Update 4:45 p.m. Oct. 1, 2019: The NRA issued a statement Tuesday calling the contents of a city memo first reported by the San Francisco Examiner on Monday a “concession” in its lawsuit against The City.
“The memo serves as a clear concession and a well-deserved win for the First and Second Amendments of the United States Constitution,” said William A. Brewer III, an attorney for the NRA. “It is unfortunate that in today’s polarized times, some elected officials would rather silence opposing arguments than engage in good-faith debate. The NRA – America’s oldest civil rights organization – won’t stand for that.”
In response, John Cote, spokesperson for City Attorney Dennis Herrera said, “The memo is not a concession. It just explains what has always been true — the resolution does not change the law. If the NRA thinks this is a win, it’s only because their lawsuit completely distorts what the resolution actually does.”
The Board of Supervisors recently declared the National Rifle Association a domestic terrorist organization, but while the resolution touched a nerve among gun rights supporters, it has no effect on city laws or policies, according to a new city memo.
The resolution, introduced by Supervisor Catherine Stefani and unanimously approved by the board, calls for The City to investigate what financial ties its contractors and vendors have to the NRA and pressure them to stop doing business with the gun rights group.
But that will apparently not happen.
A joint memo sent to department heads last week from Mayor London Breed and City Attorney Dennis Herrera told department heads that the resolution has no impact on them.
The memo said that “no department will take steps to assess the relationships between City contractors and the NRA, and no department will take steps to restrict any contractor from doing business with the NRA or to restrict City contracting opportunities for any business that has any relationship with the NRA.”
For that to occur, the board would need to approve an actual ordinance.
“Resolutions making policy statements do not impose duties on City departments, change any of the City’s existing laws or policies, or control City departments’ exercise of discretion,” the memo said.
The memo comes after the NRA filed on Sept. 9 a lawsuit in federal court against The City.
The lawsuit argues that the Board of Supervisors’ violated constitutional rights of free speech and association after it “unanimously adopted a new government policy: blacklist anyone linked to the NRA.”
Legal experts have said that the NRA’s lawsuit could have merit if The City began to cut ties with contractors who have a relationship with the NRA.
The reason the memo was sent, they wrote, was to explain the resolution’s impact “in light of the recent public attention” on the city’s contracting policies.
Another point made in the memo was that Breed did not sign the resolution. She did not have to sign it for it to become law, but a signature often indicates support or opposition.
But the Sept. 23 memo said that the absence of Breed’s signature is “consistent with the Mayor’s regular practice regarding resolutions that make non-binding policy statements.”
The resolution declared “that the National Rifle Association is a domestic terrorist organization” and urges “other cities, states, and the federal government to do the same.”
It also stated that The City “should take every reasonable step to assess the financial and contractual relationships our vendors and contractors have with this domestic terrorist organization” and that The City “should take every reasonable step to limit those entities who do business with the City and County of San Francisco from doing business with this domestic terrorist organization.”
The NRA’s lawsuit said what San Francisco did “is far from original.”
“New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and city councilmembers in Los Angeles, made similar unlawful efforts to coerce businesses to cut ties with the NRA,” the lawsuit said.
The City memo concludes, “Even though the Resolution did not change City law or contracting policy, we appreciate and take seriously the Board’s thoughtful statements about the impacts of gun violence and the NRA leadership’s role in our society.”