Brendan P. Bartholomew/Special to The S.F. ExaminerAlbert Teglia spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new transit hub at Top of the Hill

Brendan P. Bartholomew/Special to The S.F. ExaminerAlbert Teglia spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new transit hub at Top of the Hill

Gun advocates promise to renew assault on gun ban in San Mateo County parks

Gun enthusiasts and ordinary park-goers will have to coexist more or less peacefully in San Mateo County, now that an appellate court has upheld the county's ban on firearms in protected parks and recreation areas. Local politicians praised last week's decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal, which ended a two-year battle with the Calguns Foundation and other staunch proponents of the right to bear arms.

Even in tranquil San Mateo County, which is home to several shooting ranges and no shortage of Second Amendment acolytes, guns are a divisive issue. County counsel John Beiers noted that the Roseville-based Calguns Foundation wouldn't have acted without local support.

But San Mateo County's government generally opposes possession of firearms, even by licensed owners. District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said that when he nabs someone for unlawful gun possession, he routinely charges a felony instead of a misdemeanor, just to send a message. And the county enacted its ordinance prohibiting weapons in parks in 1934, and it has stoutly defended the law for decades.

Beiers deems the court decision a victory for local governments. “I think it reaffirms that, absent an unequivocal state pre-emption, the courts are reluctant to disturb the power of local governments to determine what is right for their communities,” he said. “We think the court got it right.”

But Calguns attorney Donald Edward Joseph Kilmer said the fight isn't over, yet.

“We're disappointed in the ruling, but this doesn't end the case,” Kilmer said. “We can file a new suit in federal court, or we can take it to the California Supreme Court.”

Since the appeals court ruled on a very narrow question — whether or not the county should bring its park ordinances in line with state laws — Kilmer said gun-rights advocates can always revise their complaint and start the battle anew. The larger issue pertains to civil liberties for gun owners who have already shown a need for self-defense, he said.

“Why does it make sense that somebody who has a license to carry a firearm can do so in downtown Redwood City, but they can't go out in the wilderness where there are mountain lions?” Kilmer asked.

Wagstaffe said that he, for one, would like to visit the county parks without having to worry about someone pulling out a gun during an argument. Yet he knows such sentiments rankle gun owners, who send a flurry of emails every time he makes a public statement on the matter.

But for now, he and Beiers will stick to their guns, so to speak.

Bay Area Newsgun controlPeninsulaSan Mateo County parksSteve Wagstaffe

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

Organizer Jas Florentino, left, explains the figures which represent 350 kidnapped Africans first sold as slaves in the United States in 1619 in sculptor Dana King’s “Monumental Reckoning.” The installation is in the space of the former Francis Scott Key monument in Golden Gate Park. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
What a reparations program would look like in The City

‘If there’s any place we can do it, it’s San Francisco’

Officer Joel Babbs at a protest outside the Hall of Justice in 2017 (Bay City News file photo)
The strange and troubling story of Joel Babbs: What it tells us about the SFPD

The bizarre and troubling career of a whistle-blowing San Francisco police officer… Continue reading

Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a COVID-19 update at the City College of San Francisco mass vaccination site in April. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Gavin Newsom under COVID: The governor dishes on his pandemic life

By Emily Hoeven CalMatters It was strange, after 15 months of watching… Continue reading

People fish at a dock at Islais Creek Park on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
What Islais Creek tells us about rising sea levels in San Francisco

Islais Creek is an unassuming waterway along San Francisco’s eastern industrial shoreline,… Continue reading

Deputy public defender Chris Garcia outside the Hall of Justice on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
As pandemic wanes, SF public defender hopes clients will get ‘their day in court’

Like other attorneys in San Francisco, Deputy Public Defender Chris Garcia has… Continue reading

Most Read