New lawsuit filed over Chicago’s gun limits

By Bob Unruh

Only months after the Supreme Court struck down the city’s restrictions on guns, Chicago is the target of a new lawsuit because it now requires gun owners to practice at gun ranges but bans the ranges themselves.

“While the city has adopted new regulations that make it legal to own handguns,” said Alan Gottlieb, executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, “they have crafted this new ordinance to make it virtually impossible for prospective gun owners to meet all legal requirements unless they travel outside the city for mandatory training. The new ordinance prohibits public gun ranges inside the city yet the city demands that handgun owners get at least one hour of range training time.”

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In the previous precedent-setting Otis McDonald case challenging Chicago’s gun restrictions, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Second Amendment right to bear arms applies to individuals.

“The right to keep and bear arms must be regarded as a substantic guarantee, not a prohibition that could be ignored so long as the states legislated in an evenhanded manner,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion.

The decision followed the 2008 Heller case in the District of Columbia that declared the Second Amendment to be an individual right. That case, however, pertained only to D.C. The McDonald case established the precedent across the nation.

However, Gottlieb said Chicago, ordered to drop its handgun ban, instead decided to “make it hard” to meet all of the other restrictions it added.

“To be able to get the Chicago firearms permit, you have to train and have to have range time,” Gottlieb said. “Then the city bans ranges.”

“Are they complying with the spirit of the Supreme Court ruling? No,” he said.

City officials did not respond to WND calls and e-mails requesting comment.

The Second Amendment Foundation said the city’s regulations are depriving citizens of their rights.

The Illinois State Rifle Association, Action Target Inc. and three individuals joined in the case.

The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Alan Gura of Virginia and David Sigale of Chicago, who earlier were victorious over the city in the McDonald case.

Gottlieb called it a “Catch-22.”

It “seems deliberately designed to discourage Chicago residents from exercising their firearm civil rights barely two months after those rights were restored by the Supreme Court,” Gottlieb said.

Plaintiffs include Rhonda Ezell, a victim of three burglary attempts who has disabilities and cannot travel easily; Joseph Brown, a World War II U.S. Army veteran who was among the liberators of the infamous Dachau concentration camp; and William Hespen, a retired police detective.

Action Target makes shooting ranges and equipment and supplies. The Utah company now is prohibited from building public target ranges in Chicago.

“Chicago is acting under color of law to deprive citizens of their right to keep and bear arms, and to conveniently receive the education required under the ordinance that is necessary to obtain a Chicago Firearms Permit,” Gottlieb said. “The city is violating both the Second and First amendments, and we are asking the court to put an end to this nonsense.”

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It is the fourth case that the foundation has pursued since the McDonald ruling. They earlier disputes are:

  • A claim against Maryland by a man who alleges the state is violating the Second Amendment by refusing to renew his handgun permit. Raymond Woollard originally was issued a carry permit after a man broke into his home during a family event in 2002. Woollard’s permit was renewed in 2005 after the defendant in the case was released from prison. But state officials now have refused to renew the permit, even though the intruder now lives some three miles from Woollard.
  • A claim against Westchester County, N.Y., because officials there were requiring residents to have a “good cause” to ask for a handgun permit. The federal lawsuit alleges the requirement conflicts with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment establishes a personal right to “keep and bear arms.” Individual plaintiffs in the case are Alan Kachalsky and Christina Nikolov, both Westchester County residents whose permit applications were denied.
  • The earliest case to result from the McDonald decision challenged a practice in North Carolina of banning guns during “emergencies.” The case claimed state statutes forbidding the carrying of firearms or ammunition when officials declare “states of emergency” are unconstitutional. Further, the plaintiffs said a state law allowing the government to prohibit the sale, purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition is unconstitutional. WND reported earlier this year when residents of King, N.C., were startled by the banishment of firearms during a “declared snow emergency.”

The high court’s 5-4 ruling in the first Chicago case was forecast to bring on such challenges.

It flipped “the burden onto the government and legislatures to show why they need to restrict what the court has already said is an individual right,” John Velleco, director of federal affairs for Gun Owners of America, told WND after the decision.

There is other action on the state level regarding gun rights. Already, eight states have adopted laws that exempt guns made, sold and kept inside the states from any federal gun regulations.

A court case already has over that effort in Montana – the first state to take the step of ordering federal regulators to stay out of the state’s business of regulating its citizenry’s weapons.

In Wyoming, lawmakers even adopted a $2,000 penalty for federal agents trying to enforce federal regulations against an exempted weapon.

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