Thursday, January 19, 2017

7th Circuit Overturns Chicago's Death by a Thousand Cuts Gun Range Regulation

Ezell v. Chicago, Nos. 14-3312 & 14-3322 (7th Cir. 2017) overturned a Chicago ordinance that effectively banned gun ranges in the city by only allowing them with special use permits in manufacturing districts and not within 100 feet of another range or 500 feet of a residential district or school or daycare.  They also overturned a ban on minors using the ranges even under adult supervision.  (Whatever happened to wanting gun owners to be trained for safety reasons?)

Heightened scrutiny under the Second Amendment struck these down.  If there was evidence that such location restrictions were for legitimate governmental purposes (environmental, crime) they might have survived, but even the city's own "experts" admitted that there was no evidence to support such claims.  That law enforcement and private security firm ranges are exempt from these rules shows that there is no basis for their claims.

Concerning the minor prohibition"
The City staked most of its case on the categorical argument and made little effort to justify prohibiting older adolescents and teens from engaging in supervised target practice at a range. Its rationale rests largely on an argument from “common sense” about public safety and the safety of children. Yet even common sense does not lie with the City.
Remember that "common sense" is the phrase gun control groups use to justify laws for which they have no data demonstrating a benefit.
In what must have come as a surprise to the City, Commissioner Krimbel, the City’s own witness on this subject, actually agreed with the plaintiffs’ attorney that banning anyone under 18 from entering a shooting range goes too far and extends beyond legitimate safety concerns. Here’s a taste: “I will give you this: I believe [the age restriction] is inartfully drafted because it seem[s] clear to me that the purpose of it is to not have kids running around unsupervised.” And this: “[Y]ou might want to draft that a little bit differently” because shooting ranges are a “good place” to teach a youngster “how to fire a rifle.” And this: “In fact, my own son took a shooting class when he was 12, so I’m well aware of the fact it’s okay to teach a young person how to shoot a gun properly.” Commissioner Krimbel also conceded that the City lacked any data or empirical evidence to justify its blanket no-one-under-18 rule. 

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