City’s gun laws may be challenged 

Legal challenges to San Francisco gun laws, which outlaw some ammunition sales and require handguns to be locked up, could move forward following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Supreme Court justices ruled 5-4 in a decision published Monday that a Chicago ban on handguns violated the constitutional rights to bear arms for the purpose of self-defense.

Despite legislative and ballot-box efforts to ban handguns in San Francisco, California courts have twice ruled that state law prevents The City from adopting such far-reaching restrictions.

Instead, San Francisco bans its residents from keeping a handgun at home unless the weapon is stored in a locked container or its trigger is locked.

The rule is one of three San Francisco gun-related laws challenged in a federal lawsuit filed last year that has been stalled pending the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Chicago handgun ban.

The lawsuit, filed by the National Rifle Association, San Francisco Veteran Police Officers Association and a handful of city residents, alleges that the rules are unconstitutional.

Ordering handguns to be locked away requires residents to “keep their handguns inoperable and, in effect, useless for immediate self-defense purposes,” the lawsuit states.

The stalled lawsuit also challenges city rules that outlaw firing weapons within city limits and that ban the sale of ammunition unless it serves a sports-related purpose.

“Banning the sale of ammunition specifically designed for self-defense violates Plaintiffs’ right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment,” the lawsuit states.

Monday’s Supreme Court ruling is unlikely to have a major effect on the outcome of the lawsuit, but the ruling will allow the lawsuit and a handful of similar cases in California to move forward.

City officials don’t believe Monday’s Supreme Court ruling will have any effect on San Francisco, City Attorney’s Office spokesman Matt Dorsey said.

“We think today’s Supreme Court decision in McDonald [v. City of Chicago] leaves plenty of room for reasonable restrictions like San Francisco’s to protect public safety,” Dorsey said.

Chuck Michel, an attorney representing the NRA and other plaintiffs who are suing to overturn San Francisco’s gun laws, said court hearings could resume within a couple of months.

jupton@sfexaminer.com

 

Constitutional?

San Francisco gun laws:

  • Handguns must be locked up or locked away.
  • Firearms must not be discharged in city limits.
  • Only ammunition used for sport can be sold.

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John Upton

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