Yesterday, San Francisco Superior Court Judge James Warren struck down the San Francisco handgun ban, asserting that under California law local officials do not have the authority to ban firearms from law-abiding citizens. The National Rifle Association (NRA) opposed the ban from its inception.
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre stated, "This ruling is a major victory for freedom and for the National Rifle Association. Proposition H was an ill-conceived gun ban scheme that would have violated the rights of only the law-abiding in San Francisco. We fought this outrageous attack on the constitutional rights of the good guys and we prevailed. We are determined not to see this gross injustice happen again and will fight any effort by politicians to resurrect this faulty proposal."
The San Francisco gun ban would have prohibited law-abiding city residents from purchasing firearms - rifles, shotguns and handguns - for any lawful reason, whether for self-defense, hunting or recreational shooting. In addition, current law-abiding gun owners would have to surrender their registered handguns to the police.
Chris W. Cox, NRA chief lobbyist, stated, "We are pleased with the decision of Judge James Warren of the California Superior Court. In today's ruling, Judge Warren ruled California law prohibits a city or county from banning handgun possession by law-abiding adults. This ruling supports the premise of NRA's argument. The NRA filed it's lawsuit soon after Proposition H passed arguing that the proposition was in violation of California preemption laws that say firearm laws are regulated by the state."
The San Francisco Police Officers Association also opposed the ban, stating that the new law nullified "the personal choice of city residents to lawfully possess a handgun for self-defense purposes."
Cox continued, "It seems evident that the authors of this measure either intentionally misled voters during the election or authored this proposed measure with gross disregard of California law. Regrettably, the biggest losers were the voters in this municipality who had to bear the considerable financial burden to satisfy the careless political whim of their elected officials."
NRA and its Civil Rights Defense Fund presently support more than 60 cases involving the constitutional rights of gun owners. NRA filed a lawsuit challenging gun confiscations in the wake of Katrina (NRA v. New Orleans) and to clarify California's so-called "assault weapon" law (Hunt v. Lockyer). It successfully challenged the San Francisco gun ban (NRA v. San Francisco), and it is challenging seizures of firearms at New York and New Jersey airports contrary to federal safe passage law (John Torraco and William Winstanley in New York and Gregg Revell in New Jersey). Successes include striking down unconstitutional laws in Wisconsin (State v. Hamdan), New Mexico (Baca v. New Mexico Department of Public Safety), Oregon (State v. Dalgado), and West Virginia (State ex rel. City of Princeton v. Buckner). NRA also supported cases involving successful self-defense, for example, Jeffrey Kinder, Sr., and Jeffrey Kinder III (Arizona) and Tracey Roberts (Iowa).
NRA Statement on Latest Developments in San Francisco Gun Ban
City to appeal handgun ruling
State court will be asked to restore Proposition H ban
San Francisco will ask a state appeals court to restore a ban on handgun possession by city residents, City Attorney Dennis Herrera said Tuesday.
Superior Court Judge James Warren ruled Monday that local governments have no authority to enact such prohibitions.
Herrera said the city would appeal Warren's ruling to the same Court of Appeal that overturned another San Francisco gun ordinance in 1982, a measure that prohibited both residents and nonresidents from having handguns in the city.
Sponsors of Proposition H, the measure invalidated by Warren, argue that it is a proper subject for local control because it would apply only to people who live in San Francisco.
Prop. H, approved by 58 percent of city voters in November, would require all residents except law enforcement officers and others whose jobs require firearms to turn in their handguns.
The measure also would prohibit sales of all guns and ammunition in the city.
In Monday's ruling, Warren said California law, which authorizes police to issue permits for concealed weapons, gives the state exclusive authority to regulate both the possession and sale of handguns and leaves no room for bans in individual cities and counties.
The judge also struck down the ban on sales of long guns and ammunition, saying he could not consider the legality of such a ban as a separate matter because it was closely tied to the handgun prohibition, the dominant feature of Prop. H.
The lawsuit at the heart of the case was filed by the National Rifle Association on behalf of gun owners, advocates and dealers the day after the measure passed.
In announcing plans for an appeal Tuesday, Herrera said he believes that San Francisco voters "acted within their authority to restrict handgun possession and firearm sales within the limits of their own city.''
"Gun violence is a grave problem in this city, and our citizens have a right to do what they can legislatively to reduce it,'' Herrera said.
"The enormous human toll of gun violence requires different treatment in San Francisco County than in Mono County.''
Deputy City Attorney Wayne Snodgrass said the city would argue that an ordinance limited to city residents was within the power of municipal self-government; that state regulation of handgun licensing leaves local governments free to ban sales; and that even if the handgun provisions of Prop. H were struck down, the voters who passed the measure would want to preserve its ban on the sales of rifles and shotguns.