The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided in favor of the Second Amendment again today. In a majority decision written by Judge Diane Sykes, the court found that the new zoning restrictions imposed by the City of Chicago on shooting ranges were unconstitutional. It also found that the city’s restriction that limited range use to those 18 years of age or older was unconstitutional.
Judge Ilana Rovner concurred on one of the zoning restrictions and dissented on another one of these restrictions and on the age restriction.
I am in the midst of reading the decision now. In the meantime, here is the response of the Second Amendment Foundation which brought the original and subsequent lawsuit on behalf of Rhonda Ezell and the other plaintiffs.
BELLEVUE, WA — A three-judge panel of the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today handed the Second Amendment Foundation a victory in its challenge of firearms regulations in the City of Chicago, striking down a zoning provision, reversing an earlier ruling that upheld “distancing” restrictions for gun ranges, and reversing an earlier ruling that upheld certain age restrictions.
Writing for the court, Judge Diane S. Sykes noted, “To justify these barriers, the City raised only speculative claims of harm to public health and safety. That’s not nearly enough to survive the heightened scrutiny that applies to burdens on Second Amendment rights.”
“We are delighted with the outcome of this lengthy case,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The extremes to which the city has gone in an attempt to narrow its compliance with the Supreme Court ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago can only be described as incredible stubbornness. In the 6½ years since the high court ruling in our McDonald case, the city has had ample opportunity to modify its regulations. Instead, Chicago has resisted reasonableness.
“We had already sued Chicago successfully to knock down its outright ban on gun ranges within the city,” he recalled. “Then they adopted new regulations that included the zoning, distancing and age restrictions that we contested in this legal action, known as ‘Ezell II.’
“The city tried to severely limit where shooting ranges could be located, and they failed,” he continued. “The city put up arguments about the potential for gun theft, fire hazards and airborne lead contamination, and they failed. Even the judge’s opinion today noted that the city had ‘produced no evidentiary support for these claims beyond the speculative testimony of three city officials.’ This nonsense has got to stop.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for citizens of Chicago who want to exercise their rights,” Gottlieb said, “and particularly for Rhonda Ezell, who has been steadfast in her resolve.”
Also on the panel with Judge Sykes were Judges Michael S. Kanne and Ilana D. Rovner.
As a side note, Judge Sykes is one of the jurists mentioned as a possible successor to Justice Antonin Scalia by President-elect Donald Trump. Given this decision and the earlier Ezell I decision, it is my hope that she be given the strongest consideration for this nomination.