Legal challenge: The National Rifle Association says two San Francisco gun laws violate the Second Amendment and “fundamental civil rights to keep and bear arms.” (AP file photo)Legal challenge: The National Rifle Association says two San Francisco gun laws violate the Second Amendment and “fundamental civil rights to keep and bear arms.” (AP file photo)

Legal challenge: The National Rifle Association says two San Francisco gun laws violate the Second Amendment and “fundamental civil rights to keep and bear arms.” (AP file photo)Legal challenge: The National Rifle Association says two San Francisco gun laws violate the Second Amendment and “fundamental civil rights to keep and bear arms.” (AP file photo)

NRA, San Francisco battle over gun-control laws

San Francisco attempted to strengthen two local gun-control laws Tuesday to protect from legal challenges that could strike them from the books.

Handguns in someone’s San Francisco residence cannot be left out in the open, but instead must be either locked in a container or disabled with a trigger lock, under a 2007 city law. Another law, adopted in 1994, prohibits the sale of ammunition such as hollow-point bullets, which expand upon impact.

The National Rifle Association has sued The City over these two laws in federal court as being unconstitutional.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi’s legislation that added more facts justifying the passage of the laws to bolster their chances to survive the legal challenge was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.

The NRA’s lawsuit said the gun laws violate one’s constitutional right “to possess an operable handgun ready for immediate use and loaded with proper ammunition for self defense” and doing so puts the gun owner at risk of harm or death.

“San Francisco’s latest effort reflects its inclination to resist and limit the fundamental civil right to self-defense and the right to choose to own a gun to defend oneself or one’s family,” said attorney C.D. Michel in a Sept. 14 letter to the supervisors.

The NRA’s lawsuit says San Francisco’s gun laws are unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. The litigation followed a the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in the District of Columbia v. Heller case.

“That case changed the interpretation of the Second Amendment to mean that it protected an individual’s right to posses a gun for self-defense,” said Mirkarimi, who is running for sheriff. “Since then, gun advocates have been challenging local gun laws across the nation. San Francisco is in the bull’s-eye.”

The legislation adds amendments to the laws citing studies and statistics that suggest, among other things, suicides and accidental shootings are more likely to happen when there are  unsecured guns in people’s homes.

Gun advocates refute that the city laws impact public safety.

Michel called The City’s position “ironic” since San Francisco “has historically embraced and zealously defended the concepts of freedom and individual rights, no matter how controversial” but refuses to show the same attitude toward the “fundamental civil rights to keep and bear arms.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

Under the gun

The National Rifle Association has sued The City over two of its gun-control laws.

1994: Law adopted prohibiting sale of ammunition such as hollow- point bullets.

2007: Law adopted requiring that handguns in a residence be locked in a container or disabled with a trigger lock.

Source: Board of Supervisors

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