Gun-rights advocates have a near-perfect track record of hauling San Francisco into court over gun-control laws, and a new set of proposed rules on high-capacity magazines also is “highly likely” to get The City sued, a document shows.
A ban on the possession of magazines containing 10 or more bullets was introduced earlier this year by Supervisor Malia Cohen, who represents The City's southeastern neighborhoods.
But the proposed ban is a “significant litigation risk,” the City Attorney's Office informed San Francisco elected officials in a June 5 memo.
Laws banning certain types of hollow-point ammunition, also authored by Cohen, have passed the Board of Supervisors recently. The sales or transfer of large magazines have been outlawed in California for most people — aside from law enforcement — since 2000.
Citizens who possessed large magazines before that date can legally own them now, a right that would be revoked if a state ban on high-capacity magazines, similar to Cohen's law, is passed in Sacramento.
However, a court could find that San Francisco's proposed ban is pre-empted by state law that allows pre-2000 ammo magazines, the City Attorney's Office advised.
Gun-rights advocates also could argue that a key U.S. Supreme Court case that allows weapons in “common use” could invalidate the magazine restrictions.
In District of Columbia v. Heller, the high court ruled that weapons in common use for self-defense cannot be banned. A judge could find that high-capacity magazines are in common use, according to the City Attorney's Office, which believes that San Francisco would win such a lawsuit, “but there is no way to be certain.”
If The City goes to court and loses, attorney fees of up to $1 million would go to taxpayers, the memo said.
There is one licensed firearms dealer in San Francisco.