It shouldn’t be news, but it is: a Court of Appeal in California held that San Francisco cannot unilaterally make itself a little gun free oasis by the Bay:
San Francisco’s ban on handguns, blocked by a legal challenge since voters approved it in November 2005, suffered a possibly fatal blow Wednesday when a state appeals court ruled that local governments have no authority under California law to prevent people from owning pistols.
The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco agreed with a June 2006 ruling by Superior Court Judge James Warren, who said state laws regulating gun sales, permits and safety leave no room for a city or county to forbid handgun possession.
State courts have upheld some local restrictions, including prohibitions on the sale or possession of guns on public fairgrounds, Presiding Justice Ignazio Ruvolo noted in the 3-0 ruling. But in general, “when it comes to regulating firearms, local governments are well advised to tread lightly,” he wrote.
San Francisco’s ban was challenged by the National Rifle Association, whose lobbyist Chris Cox called Wednesday’s ruling “a big win for the law-abiding citizens and NRA members of San Francisco.”
Alexis Thompson, spokeswoman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera, said the ruling was disappointing, “particularly in light of the continuing plague of handgun violence here in San Francisco.”
The city could ask the state Supreme Court to review the case. History would not be on the city’s side, however, as the state’s high court refused to review a 1982 ruling by the same appeals court striking down an earlier San Francisco ordinance that prohibited handgun possession in the city limits.
Drafters of the 2005 measure, Proposition H, sought to comply with the 1982 ruling by limiting the handgun ban to San Francisco residents. The ordinance allowed only law enforcement officers and others who needed guns for professional purposes to possess handguns.
It also prohibited the manufacture, sale and distribution of any type of firearms and ammunition in San Francisco.
Prop. H was approved by 58 percent of the voters but was challenged by the NRA a day after the election in a suit on behalf of gun owners, advocates and dealers. The proposition has never taken effect.
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