Out of Range

Chicago's gun training trap


After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Chicago's handgun ban in 2010, the city adopted new rules that continue to circumscribe its citizens' Second Amendment rights. The most maddening may be Chicago's demand that gun owners complete at least one hour of range training, which sounds reasonable—except that Chicago also prohibits gun ranges from operating within the city. The only exceptions are open solely to government employees.

Now Alan Gura, the lawyer who successfully challenged Chicago's gun ban and won D.C. v. Heller, the 2008 case recognizing that the Second Amendment protects an individual right, has launched a lawsuit challenging the city's regulations. In Ezell v. Chicago, Gura, joined by the Second Amendment Foundation and the Illinois State Rifle Association, argues that the combination of the range requirement and the range ban violates Chicagoans' Second Amendment rights.

Gura asked U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall to enjoin the city from enforcing the range ban until the case is settled. Kendall denied that request in October, on the grounds that Chicagoans could go outside the city to meet the requirement. Indeed, Gura's lead client, Rhonda Ezell, had done so, even though she is suffering from kidney failure and awaiting a transplant.

In December, Gura asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit to reverse Kendall's decision. "Chicago cannot ban something it mandates as a condition of exercising a fundamental right," he argued, adding that the city "has utterly failed to identify any legitimate governmental interests for the regulation, let alone a relationship between those interests and the law."

It seems no other city has such a range ban, and Gura mocked Chicago's claim that it is justified by fear of gunfights in range parking lots. Ezell may end up being the first federal case to establish whether the Second Amendment right recognized in Heller goes beyond self-defense in the home.