Constitutional Problems With Chicago’s New Firing Range Ordinance Post-Ezell?

July 8th, 2011

Chicago’s new firing range ordinance, which was drafted before the 7th Circuit’s opinion in Ezell v. Chicago (analysis here), but enacted after that opinion, is now available here. Beyond issues of mootness, there may be some constitutional problems with this ordinance, on its face.

Focus on section 4-151-030 and 4-151-100 in particular.

  1. 4-151-030(b)(5)- asking to list identity of *all* managers who will be managers seems awfully broad (and a lot to ask up front). Also not sure what agreements they are looking for.
  2. 4-151-030(b)(10) – “any other information . . . may require” — awfully broad discretion
  3. 4-151-030(f) – “deleterious effect on the health, safety or welfare of the community” — that could be interpreted broadly to deny all permits, depending how they view gun ranges as dangerous. That bit about “substantial number of arrests” seems to be only one way to show of deleterious impact, meaning there could be other means. And how much is a substantial arrest? I’d be curious to type in any address into Chicago’s crime map (, with a 500 feet radius, and see if any place exists without a sizable number of arrests. Also a biggie in that section is what “reasonable regulations” the City may impose on a range.
  4. 4-151-030(k) – The duty to update all of this could be quite onerous
  5. 4-151-100 – “type or firearm or caliber of ammunition is not suitable or safe for use at the shooting range” – this is not defined. in theory they could limit it to a bb gun. Also 1 range master for every 3 patrons is absurdly high.
  6. 4-151-100(g)(2)- people can only get the training once. What if they fail? (can you fail?) are you permanently rendered ineligible. Regardless this is really narrowly tailored. Only people who have undergone whatever steps are required to get to the training course (onerous I assume) can even shoot in the first place. So much for learning a new hobby.
  7. 4-151-120 – restricted areas. With these 1,000 feet zones, is there anywhere in the City that could actually host a range? These are usually pretty devastating.
  8. 4-151-180- Regulations- broad discretion here
I’ll have more thoughts soon. I’m sure we will see this in Court fairly soon.