Gun ban may be mortally wounded

A 2005 voter-approved ban on gun sales and handgun possession in The City was shot down again — this time in the California Court of Appeals.

All three state appellate judges hearing The City’s appeal of a 2006 San Francisco Superior Court decision against the prohibition agreed Wednesday that the law was invalid because state law pre-empted it.

Judge Ignazio Ruvolo, who wrote the decision, took issue with portions of Proposition H that banned the sale, manufacture, transfer or distribution of ammunition of firearms as well as the ban of handgun possession.

“The sheer breadth of Prop. H makes it vulnerable to a pre-emption challenge,” Ruvolo wrote. “We wish to stress that the goal of any local authority wishing to legislate in the area of gun control should be to accommodate the local interest with the least possible interference with state law.”

The announcement came a day after newly re-elected District Attorney Kamala Harris was sworn in. During her address, she called removing guns from The City’s streets “one of the greatest challenges,” adding that officials “must get it done.”

Nearly 80 percent of the homicides during her first term were committed with a gun, Harris noted. The City has witnessed the four deadliest years of the past decade since 2003.

In 2005, the two years after Harris was first elected, Supervisor Chris Daly and others put Proposition H on the ballot, and 58 percent of San Francisco voters approved the measure. The National Rifle Association immediately filed suit, which ultimately led to a stay against the proposition so it has never been enforced.

Daly said San Franciscans “believe the science” of gun control in that if “you remove handguns from these incidents you lower mortality rates.”

“I’m disappointed but I can’t say that I’m surprised,” Daly said of the decision. The decision did not come as a shock to Mayor Gavin Newsom either, who said an outright ban was unconstitutional, although he supported “defensible, practical and real” gun restrictions.

A potential response would be for the city attorney to seek a review from the California Supreme Court, but city attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey would neither confirm nor deny Wednesday whether the city attorney was considering that option.

dsmith@examiner.com

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