San Francisco makes push to restrict firearms, ban certain ammo

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerMayor Lee announces new gun violence reduction legislation at a SFPD press conference.

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerMayor Lee announces new gun violence reduction legislation at a SFPD press conference.

Mayor Ed Lee is not waiting for the Obama administration to make laws restricting the use of semi-automatic weapons — he is joining forces with other city officials to try to ban certain ammunition and create a notification system for large ammo purchases.

The two pieces of legislation are expected to be introduced to the Board of Supervisors in January by Supervisor Malia Cohen. One would ban the possession of military-grade ammunition, such as hollow-point bullets. The other would require notification to law enforcement if someone buys 500 or more rounds of ammo, even through the Web.

“These weapons and this ammunition don’t belong in the hands of San Franciscans,” Cohen said. “And online suppliers have an obligation to disclose to law enforcement about residents buying large amounts of this lethal  ammunition.”

The proposals come in the wake of a shooting massacre at a school in Newtown, Conn., last week that killed 20 children and six adults. The shooter, Adam Lanza, also killed himself and his mother.

Officials are trying not only to prevent similar incidents, but also to curb other gun crime in San Francisco.

Police Chief Greg Suhr said the success of a gun buyback last weekend also will improve safety. Police collected 296 firearms during the event. Getting those weapons off the street is “absolutely making a difference,” Suhr said.

Though Suhr said gun violence is down in The City, there have been 67 homicides this year.

“I would say to the NRA, if [firearms] aren’t the problem and it won’t make a difference, then it shouldn’t make a difference banning them,” Suhr said. “Let’s err on the side of caution and keep our kids safe.”

Since the Connecticut incident, officials nationwide have said they plan to take a stricter stance on guns.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she plans to reintroduce a bill to Congress in January that would ban assault weapons. A similar ban expired in 2004. President Barack Obama said Wednesday he intends to create a task force by the end of January to develop specific gun reform proposals.

Brandon Combs, executive director of the Calguns Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at protecting firearm rights in
California, called the proposals “silly.”

“It’s probably a good thing these gun-control advocates don’t know what they’re talking about,” he said.

Combs said banning hollow-point bullets could potentially endanger people in self-defense situations.

“It would require gun owners to have solid ammunition that is more likely to pass through objects and hit something other than the intended target,” Combs said. “It makes no sense whatsoever. In a self-defense situation, it’s the best chance of stopping a deadly threat in a short amount of time.”

But Dr. Andre Campbell, a surgeon at San Francisco General Hospital, said the bullets the ban would eliminate are especially destructive to people.

“When they strike a victim, it’s like a bomb going off,” Campbell said. “It really is a battle against life or death. Some have overwhelming mortal wounds, and I cannot save them.”

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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