Wednesday, July 6, 2011

UPDATED 7th Circuit issues preliminary injunction against Chicago's new gun law

UPDATE (7/6/2011):

Today the Seventh Circuit reversed Judge Kendall's decision (discussed below) not to issue a preliminary injunction blocking Chicago's new gun law, which requires citizens to train at a gun range to get a gun permit but simultaneously outlaws gun ranges.  In sum:
[T]he judge’s decision reflects misunderstandings about the nature of the plaintiffs’ harm, the structure of this kind of constitutional claim, and the proper decision method for evaluating alleged infringements of Second Amendment rights.
If this decision stands (i.e., is not overruled by the entire Seventh Circuit or the Supreme Court) then it will likely be back to the drawing board for the Chicago City Council.  It will be interesting to see what happens without Mayor Daley around...


Court denies motion for preliminary injunction in lawsuit challenging Chicago's new gun law

In McDonald v. Chicago, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment prevents states from passing laws infringing on the individual right to bear arms announced (or clarified, if you prefer) in District of Columbia v. Heller.  In doing so, the Supreme Court struck down Chicago's gun ban.  Chicago passed a new gun law just four days later--and less than a day after most alderman had a chance to look it over.  (As one alderman said, "The details don't really matter, I mean, it's not like we're selling off the parking meters this time.")

The new law gave up as little ground as conceivably possible.  For example, it permits the possession of handguns, but only in the home.  (To get the gun home, you have to break it down and put it in a gun case.)  Handguns also must be registered, and no one may register more than one.  In order to be eligible to register a handgun, a person must have a Chicago Firearms Permit.  And to get a CFP, one must take a gun safety course that includes at least one hour of training at a firing range.  Here's the kicker:  the law also bans firing ranges!

Predictably, some folks immediately sued the City of Chicago in the Northern District of Illinois alleging that the new law violates the Second Amendment.  In Ezell v. Chicago, the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the city from enforcing the new ordinance.  Yesterday, the Court (Judge Virginia M. Kendall) denied the motion, finding for the City on each of the four preliminary-junction factors:

1)  No "irreparable harm" because there are dozens of gun ranges in the suburbs of Chicago where plaintiffs could do (and, in fact, have done) the required training:  "Plaintiffs have failed to meet their burden to show how the travel outside of the City’s borders is more onerous and therefore irreparable."

2)  No "likelihood of success on the merits" because "law involving various firearms’ ordinances is evolving on an almost weekly basis" and it is more or less impossible to predict how the case will turn out in such circumstances.

3)  No "inadequate remedy at law" because plaintiffs' damages for the alleged violation are easily quantifiable:  the costs associated with traveling to the suburbs to get the required training.

4) "Balancing of the harms" favors the City, because "ranges must be highly regulated due to the potential health and safety risks to both the users of the range and the neighboring community" and this outweighs the "inconvenience suffered by Plaintiffs having to drive a further distance to obtain range training outside of [Chicago's] borders."

Presumably, this order will be appealed to the Seventh Circuit on an interlocutory basis.

Questions:  if a city can ban firing ranges but make handgun possession dependent on training at a firing range, can every municipality in the state do the same?  Can the state?  Can the federal government?  At some point this seems like a clear violation of the Second Amendment.  The question is where.

UPDATE (11/1/2010):

Plaintiffs have appealed the denial of the preliminary injunction, so the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals will get a chance to weigh in.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments on posts older than 30 days are moderated because almost all of those comments are spam.