NRA is ‘continuing its attack on common sense with its lawsuit today,’ S.F. City Attorney says, vowing aggressive defense of gun safety laws ‘that save lives’
SAN FRANCISCO (Nov. 19, 2013)—City Attorney Dennis Herrera today committed his office to a vigorous defense of San Francisco’s recently enacted ban on the possession of gun magazines capable of firing more than ten rounds of ammunition, following an announcement by lawyers for the National Rifle Association that the gun rights lobby will sue in federal court later today to invalidate the local ordinance for violating the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment. The news release from the Long Beach, Calif.‐based law firm of Michel & Associates contends that such magazines are “commonly possessed” by gun owners for target practice, shooting competitions, hunting and self‐defense.
“The NRA is continuing its attack on common sense with its lawsuit today, and San Francisco is prepared to litigate aggressively to defend gun safety laws that save lives,” said Herrera. “The NRA is clearly focused on a litigation strategy to push its extremist agenda. But the U.S. Supreme Court—even in expanding the Second Amendment’s scope—has been unequivocal that state and local governments are constitutionally entitled to enact reasonable firearms regulations. The high court has explicitly recognized that the constitution does not extend an unfettered individual right to keep and carry dangerous and unusual weapons. I have faith that the federal judiciary will agree that San Francisco’s gun laws protect public safety in a manner that’s both reasonable and constitutional. San Francisco has been one of the NRA’s top targets for years, and I’m proud of the success we’ve made to protect our sensible gun safety laws.”
Herrera’s office is currently engaged in separate litigation in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal against the National Rifle Association, which has sought an immediate halt to San Francisco’s enforcement of two local gun safety ordinances: a safe‐storage law requiring handgun owners to keep guns locked when stored at home, and a ban on the sale of “enhanced‐lethality ammunition” designed to maximize injury to victims of gun violence. The NRA’s federal appeal in that case seeks to overturn a Nov. 26, 2012 federal court ruling that denied the Fairfax, Va.‐based gun lobby’s motion for a preliminary injunction in its challenge to the constitutionality of San Francisco’s gun safety laws. In that case, the U.S. District Court found that the NRA failed to demonstrate a likelihood that its case would ultimately succeed on the merits, siding with Herrera’s contention that City gun safety laws protect the public without impinging on residents’ right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. To succeed on appeal, the NRA must demonstrate that the district court abused its discretion in denying the injunction. The case remains under consideration following oral arguments last month.
Herrera’s office has been among the public law offices most extensively involved in federal legal battles over the scope of the Second Amendment, which evolved significantly with two recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court’s 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller held that the U.S. Constitution protects an individual’s right to possess firearms, and its subsequent holding in 2010’s McDonald v. Chicago established that individual right as being applicable to states and local governments. The two decisions opened the door to aggressive efforts by the NRA and other gun rights advocates to push the limits of the Second Amendment even further, potentially undermining the viability of state and local gun safety laws nationwide. Public law offices like Herrera’s have been at the forefront of efforts by major cities to preserve reasonable public safety regulations of firearms.
The new case, which the NRA said it intends to file “by the end of the day,” is: San Francisco Veteran Police Officers Association v. City and County of San Francisco et al., U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The pending case in the Ninth Circuit is: Espanola Jackson v. City and County of San Francisco, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit No. 12‐17803.
PDF of the NRA’s complaint against the City and County (Nov. 19, 2013)
PDF of the Michel and Associates press release