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Court tosses Chicago's shooting range ban, as Emanuel imposes tight restrictions

A federal appeals panel Wednesday tossed out a Chicago gun ordinance banning shooting ranges in the city. But Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city council were ready to impose new rules.

Emanuel told reporters that city lawyers saw the appeals court's decision coming. So they drafted and quickly ushered through the council a strict set of rules about where any future shooting ranges can be located. They must be more than a thousand feet from schools, parks, liquor stores, hospitals, churches, libraries - the list goes on.

"Based on the reading of where we thought the case was going, I wanted to make sure the rest of the [city's gun control] ordinance did not get dragged down as it relates to the gun ranges," Emanuel said.

Other lawsuits remain against the city's gun control laws, but Wednesday's appeals court ruling specifically wiped out the ban on firing ranges within the city limits. The court wrote, "The right to possess firearms for protection...wouldn't mean much without the training and practice that make it effective."

The ruling points out the city itself recognized as much, by requiring all gun permit holders to take training at a firing range - even though they'd have to travel outside the city to do so. That changes with the court decision, and Emanuel's new ordinance.

It was an effort, the mayor said, "to address what the court just struck down and to get ourselves in line legally with what is required constitutionally."

But guns rights advocates said the fight is not over.

A spokesman for the Second Amendment Foundation, which was involved in the lawsuit, called Emanuel's ordinance "a day late, or maybe just an hour late, and way too short of the mark."

Likewise, Todd Vandermyde of the National Rifle Association claimed the rules are more restrictive than the court will allow. He said his group is willing to talk with Emanuel.

"They can either, you know, try to negotiate a resolution to this issue, and respect the rights of Chicago residents, or they can continue to throw good money after bad and litigate this ad-nauseum," Vandermyde said.

Emanuel's office said city lawyers are reviewing the court's opinion and its implications.

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