Judge rejects NRA challenge of San Francisco gun restrictions

AP File PhotoVictorious: City Attorney Dennis Herrera touted a U.S. District Court judge’s decision as a good step for public safety.

San Francisco is claiming a legal victory over the National Rifle Association, but an attorney for the group says its fight against local gun control laws is just beginning.

A 2007 city law — strengthened by then-Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi in 2011 — compels gun owners to “safely store” firearms in their homes and generally requires them to use trigger locks. A 1994 ordinance outlawed possession of “particularly dangerous ammunition” such as fragmenting bullets and expanding bullets with “no sporting purpose.”

The NRA first went after the restrictions in 2009, but on Monday, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the group’s lawyers had failed to prove the restrictions inhibit constitutional rights to bear arms. As a result, an injunction sought by the NRA was not granted.

“This is a thoughtful and persuasive ruling that affirms our position that San Francisco’s gun laws protect public safety in a manner that’s reasonable and constitutional,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a statement.

NRA attorney C.D. Michel said his group will appeal.

“This is not over, not by a long shot,” he said. “What if you’re old and need glasses in the middle of the night, or you have kids at home to protect? Why are they being forced to keep their guns locked up?”

The case — Espanola Jackson v. City and County of San Francisco — is one of several cases the NRA hopes will eventually be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The NRA won a $380,000 settlement from The City in 2009 over a voter-approved gun ownership ban for anyone but law enforcement officers and certain security guards. In 2008, Mayor Gavin Newsom defied a court ruling shooting down a law banning handguns in public housing. Later that year, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a similar handgun ban, causing the San Francisco Housing Authority to agree not to enforce it.

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

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