Panel Votes To Lift Some Restrictions On Shooting Ranges In Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago aldermen on Monday grudgingly endorsed an ordinance that would ease restrictions on where shooting ranges can be located in the city.

Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) was one of four aldermen to vote against the measure at a joint meeting of the Committee on License and Consumer Protection, and the Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards.

“I do not understand why our previous attempt to restrict the locations of shooting ranges is being eliminated; particularly the limitation on schools, daycare, liquor,” she said.

Assistant Corporation Counsel William Aguiar said a federal appeals court has thrown out restrictions which prohibit gun ranges near residential areas.

“It also ruled the city could not constitutionally restrict ranges from being within 500 feet of certain special uses; such as schools, churches, and other like places,” he said.

That prompted Smith to respond “this is ridiculous.”

The city’s rules for shooting ranges had banned them within 500 feet of any residential zoning district, school, daycare facility, place of worship, liquor store, library, museum, hospital, or children’s activities facility. The rules also prohibited gun ranges from opening within 100 feet of other gun ranges. A federal appeals court panel ruled those restrictions unconstitutional in January.

The court also ruled there was no justification for the ordinance to ban anyone under 18 years of age from entering a gun range. Under proposed changes backed by aldermen at Monday’s hearing, anyone under 18 would have to be accompanied and supervised by a parent, guardian, or certified firearms instructor.

The proposed changes now go to the full City Council for a vote on Wednesday.

Chicago had banned gun ranges entirely — other than those with use restricted to police officers — until 2011, when a federal appeals court ruled the ban unconstitutional, and the City Council approved an ordinance limiting ranges to manufacturing districts, and setting other limits, such as the age requirement and the restrictions near schools, churches, etc.

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