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Gun Ranges Could Open In Chicago More Easily Under New Ordinance

By Heather Cherone | May 24, 2017 2:06pm | Updated on May 26, 2017 10:28am
 A new ordinance allows gun ranges to open up in more parts of Chicago.
A new ordinance allows gun ranges to open up in more parts of Chicago.
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CITY HALL — Gun ranges will be allowed to open up in more parts of Chicago under a measure approved reluctantly by the City Council Wednesday.

Aldermen approved the law to allow gun ranges to operate in areas of the city where business, commercial and industrial uses are allowed — with a special permit from city officials — after wary aldermen delayed it for a month.

Ald. Ed Burke (14th) said last month some of his colleagues still had questions about the law — and were concerned a vote in favor of it could be used by their political opponents to paint them as pro-gun.

Before the unanimous vote, Burke said if the council did not act, the city would be left without any legal restrictions on where gun ranges could open.

That would be "truly a return to the Wild West," Burke said.

The restrictions approved Wednesday toe "the line that was drawn in the sand by the federal court,” Burke said.

Under a law passed in 2011, gun ranges are only allowed in industrial parts of the city. Even then, ranges must be at least 100 feet from any other range and at least 500 feet from homes, schools, day care operations, houses of worship, liquor stores, parks, libraries, museums and hospitals.

The measure approved Wednesday would allow anyone younger than 18 to shoot at a gun range, as long as she is supervised by a parent, guardian or instructor.

There are no gun ranges in Chicago, and no pending applications to open a facility.

Under the new law, gun ranges will need a special-use permit from city officials. Those permits can be denied based on the complaints of nearby residents, according to city rules.

In January, a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Chicago's restrictions on gun ranges violated the Second Amendment.

In its arguments to the court, Chicago officials called gun violence a "serious public health and safety problem with both social and economic consequences" and argued that gun ranges would attract thieves, as well as threaten lead contamination, noise pollution and fire.

Judge Diane Sykes said the city provided no evidence to back up such claims.