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San Francisco is posed to pass an ordinance to require all guns not carried on your person to be unloaded and locked up. It would be very close to the Washington, D.C. case of District of Columbia v. Heller, where the Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Second Amendment was a fundamental, individual right to keep and carry arms for self defense. The difference with this ordinance is that it allows a person to carry a loaded handgun on their person, in their home, but requires all other firearms to be unloaded and locked up.
The proposal comes after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal filed by the National Rifle Association seeking to block a city 2007 ordinance that requires residents to store handguns in a locked container or disabled with a trigger lock that has been approved by the Department of Justice.It is likely that the ordinance will be challenged. One of the main findings in the Heller case was that it was unconstitutional to remove a whole class of firearms as being useful for self defense in the home. From Heller:
Farrell is now proposing to add what are called long guns to the requirement, which are rifles or shotguns.
Farrell’s legislation advanced toward approval Monday out of the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee. The full board is expected to approve it next week.
3. The handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment . The District’s total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of “arms” that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense. Under any of the standards of scrutiny the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, this prohibition—in the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is most acute—would fail constitutional muster. Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional. Because Heller conceded at oral argument that the D. C. licensing law is permissible if it is not enforced arbitrarily and capriciously, the Court assumes that a license will satisfy his prayer for relief and does not address the licensing requirement. Assuming he is not disqualified from exercising Second Amendment rights, the District must permit Heller to register his handgun and must issue him a license to carry it in the home. Pp. 56–64.The ordinance essentially removes most possibilities of using long guns for self defense in the home. Long guns are used for self defense many times more often than accidents occur in the home. While defensive uses of firearms are not tracked by police or any official agency, surveys show that firearms are used for defensive purposes between 500,000 and 3 million times each year. Long guns total about 2/3 of all guns in the United States, and many households only own long guns, and not handguns. Anecdotal accounts of the use of long guns for defensive purposes are common. From 26 April, 2016 wtvm.com:
"I think when he punched me, he thought he'd knocked me out. Because he kept coming toward, down the hallway. And that's when I went right back into the bedroom and grabbed the gun,” said Linton.
Now armed with the 12 gauge, she intended to use it to keep her daughter safe.
"The only thing I can remember is the guy at the door hollering 'oh...' and running. And I just fired, like I said, all I could think was it was him or me. And I had to protect my daughter,” Linton said.
Total accidents involving firearms have been trending down for decades. In 2014, the last year available for record, the CDC reports 15,928 accidental, non-fatal injuries involving firearms. There were 586 fatal firearm accidents. It is likely that there are about 30 - 180 defensive uses in the home for each accidental injury with a firearm.
It seems doubtfull that this ordinance could survive a Constitutional challenge on its face. But the San Francisco Board of Supervisors may be emboldened by the refusal of the Supreme Court to hear the challenge to the 2007 ordinance, and by the death of Antonin Scalia, a strong supporter of a literalist interpretation of the Constitution.
The ordinance has yet to be passed, challenged, or heard in an court. Any judical decision will be months or years in the future.
Update: Supervisor Mark Farell states on Facebook that the Board of Supervisors has unanimously passed his firearms storage ordinance:
Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence for their partnership with me on this proposal and for all of their work to reduce gun violence!
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch