Since Donald Trump won election to President of the United States on November 8, there has been much speculation regarding who he will appoint to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court of the United States.
There are a number of individuals who are believed to be on the short list of potential nominees, one of those is Judge on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Diane Sykes.
On Wednesday, Sykes penned a very important opinion in the case Ezell v. Chicago. The issue at hand in the case is regarding certain provisions which the City of Chicago have put in place which makes it virtually impossible for residents to obtain a concealed carry permit. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. Chicago, that the handgun ban in the City of Chicago was unconstitutional.
There is not a single gun range in Chicago.
In response to the decision, Chicago required that all concealed carry permit holders complete at least a total of one hour at a gun range. However, the city also banned all gun ranges within city limits. This ban was also struck down by the 7th Court of Appeals, in a decision which was also written by Justice Sykes. Despite losing another court battle, Chicago officials attempted once again to circumvent the rulings of federal courts.
New restrictions put in place after losing the 2011 court case made it virtually impossible for a gun range to open up in Chicago, although a ban was no longer technically on the books. For example, ranges could only be in manufacturing districts, they could not be built within 500 feet of any residential, educational, or religious area, and makes it illegal for an individual under the age of 18 to enter a range. As a result, there is not a single range in Chicago — providing a drastic hurdle for those who attempt to practice their 2nd Amendment right.
Under the combined effect of these two regulations, only 2.2% of the city’s total acreage is even theoretically available, and the commercial viability of any of these parcels is questionable—so much so that no shooting range yet exists. This severely limits Chicagoans’ Second Amendment right to maintain proficiency in firearm use via target practice at a range. 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.
In response to claims made by Chicago saying that their regulations are put in place to prevent crime, protect the surrounding environment, and prevent fire Sykes writes, “The City has provided no support for these claims, nor has it established that limiting shooting ranges to manufacturing districts and distancing them from the multiple and various uses listed in the buffer-zone rule has any connection to reducing these risks.
We certainly accept the general proposition that preventing crime, protecting the environment, and preventing fire are important public concerns. But the city continues to assume, as it did in Ezell I, that it can invoke these interests as a general matter and call it a day. It simply asserts, without evidence, that shooting ranges generate increased crime, cause airborne lead contamination in the adjacent neighborhood, and carry a greater risk of fire than other uses.”
“And if more were needed, the City concedes (as it must) that law-enforcement and private-security ranges operate in commercial districts throughout Chicago near schools, churches, parks, and stores; the City acknowledges that they operate quite safely in these locations. Common sense suggests that law-enforcement ranges probably do not attract many thieves, but the City’s theft-protection rationale for these zoning rules is so woefully unsupported that the distinction between law-enforcement and commercial ranges doesn’t carry much weight. The City doesn’t even try to argue that commercial ranges create greater fire or environmental risks than law-enforcement ranges.”
Read the full opinion here.
What do you think of this decision? Was Chicago acting illegally? Is this the type of perspective which would make for a good Supreme Court Justice? Let HYPELINE News know what you think in the comments!