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Appeals court upholds San Francisco laws regulating gun ownership

This post has been updated, as indicated below.

SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal appeals court unanimously upheld the constitutionality Tuesday of two San Francisco laws that regulate gun storage and ammunition.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the city had adequately justified an ordinance that  requires gun owners to keep weapons either stored in a locked container or disabled with a trigger lock when not carried.

Gun owners sued San Francisco in 2009 to overturn that law, arguing they needed to keep their  weapons ready to fire for self-protection in their homes.

In a ruling written by Judge Sandra S. Ikuta, the court said modern gun safes can be opened within seconds, and the requirement “does not substantially prevent law-abiding citizens from using firearms to defend themselves in the home.”

San Francisco demonstrated that the law “serves a significant government interest by reducing the number of gun-related injuries and deaths from having an unlocked handgun in the home,” wrote Ikuta, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush.

The panel also upheld a San Francisco ordinance that bans the sale of hollow-point ammunition, designed to expand or fragment upon impact. The city argued that such ammunition was more lethal than other kinds.

The court said there was no evidence “indicating that ordinary bullets are ineffective for self defense.”

The ruling upholds a district judge’s refusal to block both laws.

[Updated 1:38 p.m. PDT March 25: Chuck Michel, a lawyer for the National Rifle Assn., said gun owners would seek immediate review of the ruling, either before a larger 9th Circuit panel or the Supreme Court. “We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will clarify that it meant what it said in its decisions from 2008 and 2010 -- that the 2nd Amendment is not a second-class constitutional right,” Michel said.]

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Chuck Michel, a lawyer for the National Rifle Association, said gun owners would seek immediate review of the ruling, either before a larger 9th Circuit panel or the Supreme Court.

“We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will clarify that it meant what it said in its decisions from 2008 and 2010 -- that the Second Amendment is not a second class constitutional right,” Michel said.

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