Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Big Second Amendment Decision

In Ezell vs Chicago, the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision and instructed the lower court to issue an injunction to prevent Chicago from banning private indoor pistol ranges within the city limits. Interesting that that there are already eleven pistol ranges in Chicago: four federal, five CPD and two for private security guards.

Some excerpts from the decision, and it's a doozie:


The City urges us to import the “undue burden” test from the Court’s abortion cases, but we decline the invitation. Both Heller and McDonald suggest that First Amendment analogues are more appropriate, and on the strength of that suggestion, we and other circuits have already begun to adapt First Amendment doctrine to the Second Amendment context...


As the record comes to us at this stage of the proceedings, the firing‐range ban is wholly out of proportion to the public interests the City claims it serves. Accordingly, the plaintiffs’ Second Amendment claim has a strong likelihood of success on the merits.


Properly regulated firing ranges open to the public should not pose significant threats to public health and safety. On the other side of the scale, the plaintiffs have established a strong likelihood that they are suffering violations of their Second Amendment rights every day the range ban is in effect. The balance of harms favors the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs asked the district court to enjoin the enforcement of Chicago Municipal Code § 8‐20‐280—the prohibition on “[s]hooting galleries, firearm ranges, or any other place where firearms are discharged.” They are entitled to a preliminary injunction to that effect. To be effective, however, the injunction must also prevent the City from enforcing other provisions of the Ordinance that operate indirectly to prohibit range training. The plaintiffs have identified several provisions of the Ordinance that implicate activities integral to range training: CHI. MUN. CODE §§ 8‐20‐020 (prohibiting the possession of handguns outside the home), 8‐20‐030 (prohibiting the possession of long guns outside the home or business), 8‐20‐080 (prohibiting the possession of ammunition without a corresponding permit and registration certificate), 8‐20‐100 (prohibiting the transfer of firearms and ammunition except through inheritance), 8‐24‐010 (prohibiting the discharge of firearms except for self‐defense, defense of another, or hunting). To the extent that these provisions prohibit law‐abiding, responsible citizens from using a firing range in the city, the preliminary injunction should include them as well. Similarly, the injunction should prohibit the City from using its zoning code to exclude firing ranges from locating anywhere in the city.

Finally, because range training is required for the issuance of a Chicago Firearm Permit, a registration certificate, and ultimately, for lawful possession of any firearm, the firing‐range ban implicates not only the right to train at a range but also the core Second Amendment right to possess firearms for self‐defense. Accordingly, the preliminary injunction should include sections 8‐20‐110(a) and 8‐20‐140(a) to the extent that those provisions operate to prohibit otherwise eligible persons from “carry[ing] or possess[ing] a firearm” at a range without a Permit or registration certificate while they are trying to complete the range‐training prerequisite for lawful firearm possession.

Those are the bounds of the proposed preliminary injunction, which should be entered upon remand.

And Judge Rovner concurs:

Stung by the result of McDonald v. City of Chicago, 130 S. Ct. 3020 (2010), the City quickly enacted an ordinance that was too clever by half. Recognizing that a complete gun ban would no longer survive Supreme Court review, the City required all gun owners to obtain training that included one hour of live‐range instruction, and then banned all live ranges within City limits. This was not so much a nod to the importance of live‐range training as it was a thumbing of the municipal nose at the Supreme Court. The effect of the ordinance is another complete ban on gun ownership within City limits. That residents may travel outside the jurisdiction to fulfill the training requirement is irrelevant to the validity of the ordinance inside the City. In this I agree with the majority: given the framework of Dist. of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), and McDonald, the City may not condition gun ownership for self‐defense in the home on a prerequisite that the City renders impossible to fulfill within the City limits. The plaintiffs have a strong likelihood of success on the merits of that claim and the district court should have granted an injunction against the operation of the ordinance to the extent that it imposed an impossible pre‐condition on gun owner ship for self‐defense in the home. There are two obvious ways for the City to remedy this problem: it may either drop the requirement for one hour of live range training or it may permit live‐range training within the City limits.


h/t to Days Of Our Trailers and Of Arms And The Law.


Old NFO said...

Yes!!! :-) Thank you Alan Gura and SAF!!!

Turk Turon said...

Amen to that!