Updated 07/06/11 – 3:04 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — The City Council has approved an ordinance legalizing gun ranges within the city limits, just as a federal appeals court had struck down the city’s ban.
Aldermen approved the ordinance at Wednesday’s council meeting without discussion. At virtually the same time, a federal appeals court had ruled in favor of a lawsuit challenging the city’s ban on firing ranges and had issued an injunction against the ban.
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The move comes a year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the city’s handgun ban was unconstitutional and then-Mayor Richard M. Daley pushed through a new firearms ordinance that required gun owners to get firing range training, but that banned firing ranges in Chicago.
Gun supporters filed two lawsuits challenging the ban on gun ranges in Chicago and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, expecting the city would lose those lawsuits, pushed through the new ordinance allowing gun ranges within city limits.
“Swift and decisive action from the City Council was essential to preserve the gun control and safety elements of the ordinance,” Emanuel said Wednesday. “The action taken by the Council today ensured that the gun ranges in Chicago will be regulated as part of a thoughtful plan that is focused on the safety of all Chicagoans.”
But the gun ranges would be subject to severe restrictions. The ranges could only be set up in areas zoned for manufacturing, and could not open within 1,000 feet of residential areas, schools, parks, libraries, museums, hospitals or liquor stores.
Currently, firing ranges are not permitted in the city, except for those with use restricted to Chicago Police officers. A police firing range, in fact, was approved this past November on a marshland the city’s Far Southeast Side, despite concerns that it would threaten birds that roost nearby.
But firing ranges for the general public were banned as part of the new city gun ordinance that was drawn up when the U.S. Supreme Court rendered unenforceable the city’s 1982 ban on handgun ownership in McDonald v. Chicago.
Even when the old handgun ban was in effect, a shooting range for another type of firearms operated for many years in the city – right on the lakefront. The Lincoln Park Gun Club operated a trap and skeet shooting range along the lake at Diversey Parkway from 1912 until it disbanded in 1991, amid environmental concerns about the lead shot the club was leaving in Lake Michigan.