Gun Ban in San Francisco Is Voided

Times Staff Writer

A countywide ban on handguns that would have been among the nation’s toughest was overturned Monday by a state judge.

In his decision, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge James Warren struck down a measure that passed with 58% of the vote in November.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. June 15, 2006 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday June 15, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
Gun ownership: An article in Tuesday’s California section said more than 250 million Americans owned guns. According to several studies by gun-rights and gun-control organizations, between 75 million and 80 million Americans own firearms.

Warren sided with gun advocates such as the National Rifle Assn., which sued to overturn the law within hours of its passage.

The NRA argued that officials could not ban weapons because California law allowed for their sale and possession.


The handgun measure made it illegal to buy, sell, distribute and manufacture firearms in San Francisco.

The legislation was placed on the ballot by the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors in response to a soaring homicide rate over the last two years.

City officials were deflated by the decision.

“We’re disappointed that the court denied what we viewed as a reasonable and narrowly tailored law,” said Matt Dorsey, a spokesman for the San Francisco city attorney’s office.

He said the office would decide whether to appeal Warren’s ruling in the next few days.

An NRA spokesman hailed Monday’s development.

“We think it was the right move,” said spokesman Andrew Arulanandam.

“It’s a sound decision that’s on the side of law-abiding citizens in the city of San Francisco.”

More than 250 million Americans own guns. Arulanandam did not know how many of them were in liberal San Francisco, a consolidated city-county that has a population of 750,000.

At the time of the law’s passage, proponents hoped surrounding counties would follow suit. A similar ban exists in Washington, D.C., and a milder one in Chicago.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is considering a challenge to Washington’s ban.

Gun advocates say the law violates a 2nd Amendment right of individuals to bear arms.

San Francisco’s ban also was opposed by the San Francisco Police Officers Assn., which said the new law nullified “the personal choice of city residents to lawfully possess a handgun for self-defense purposes.”