City Attorney Convinced That Issues Involved in City Voters’ Response to Gun Violence ‘Are Serious, and They Deserve a Full Hearing by the Court of Appeal’
SAN FRANCISCO (June 13, 2006) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today announced that he intends to appeal to the California Court of Appeal a trial court ruling by San Francisco Superior Court Judge James Warren yesterday that granted a writ of mandate invalidating both substantive sections of the voter-approved Proposition H, which sought to restrict handgun possession among San Francisco residents within City limits to police and certain security professionals, and to ban the manufacture, distribution, sale and transfer of firearms and ammunition within San Francisco. Warren’s 30-page ruling held that the entirety of Proposition H was “invalid as preempted by state law.”
“I respectfully disagree with the court’s reasoning, and believe that San Francisco voters acted within their authority to restrict handgun possession and firearm sales within the limits of their own City,” said Herrera. “Gun violence is a grave problem in this City, and our citizens have a right to do what they can legislatively to reduce it. The case law weighs against preemption here, and I don’t believe that the state legislature ever intended to occupy the entire field of gun regulation to the exclusion of any municipal response. The enormous human toll of gun violence requires different treatment in San Francisco County than in Mono County, as even the court’s ruling acknowledged. The legal and practical issues at stake in this case are serious, and they deserve a full hearing by the Court of Appeal.”
Proposition H was passed by nearly 58 percent of voters in the Nov. 5, 2005 election, immediately after which it was challenged by the National Rifle Association and several other plaintiffs in the California Court of Appeal, which declined to hear the challenge until a trial court had ruled. The NRA’s subsequent challenge in San Francisco Superior Court led the City to voluntarily stay enforcement of the measure while the case was under submission. With the trial court’s issuance of a writ of mandate yesterday, the City is legally prohibited from enforcing the measure unless and until an appellate court reverses the ruling and reinstates the ordinance.
The two substantive provisions of Proposition H are Section 2, which sought to ban the sale, manufacture, transfer and distribution of firearms and ammunition within City limits; and Section 3, which would have limited handgun possession among San Francisco residents to peace officers and those requiring them for professional purposes. The measure was placed on the ballot with supporting signatures from Supervisors Tom Ammiano, Chris Daly, Bevan Dufty and former Supervisor Matt Gonzalez. San Francisco’s Charter allows four or more individual Supervisors to place proposed ordinances before voters directly. The case is Fiscal v. City and County of San Francisco, San Francisco Superior Court, Case No. CPF-05-505960.