Sunday, February 26, 2006


The National Rifle Association urged a state judge Thursday to overturn an ordinance voters overwhelmingly approved in November banning handgun possession and firearm sales. Chuck Michel, an attorney for the NRA and gun enthusiasts suing to repeal the law, said he was "sympathetic with the victims of gun violence" but said lawful weapon owners "are part of the solution, and not part of the problem." Without addressing the Second Amendment dispute over whether individuals have a right to bear arms, Michel said a local government cannot ban weapons because the California Legislature allows their sale and possession, and has almost exclusive authority to regulate them.

Measure H was put on the November ballot by the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors, who were frustrated by the alarmingly high number of gun-related homicides in this city of 750,000 residents. The NRA sued the day after 58 percent of voters approved the law.

Deputy City Attorney Wayne Snodgrass told San Francisco County Superior Court Judge James Warren the city can adopt such an ordinance because state law "is simply not protecting San Franciscans enough." He noted at least two California court decisions that he said vested San Francisco with the right to enforce Measure H. In 1998, a state appeals court upheld West Hollywood's ban on the sale of so-called Saturday night specials, small and cheap handguns that city leaders said contributed to violent crime. And three years ago, the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of Los Angeles and Alameda counties, saying local governments could ban the possession and sale of weapons on government property, such as fairgrounds. The high court, however, did not address the issue of private property sales and possession, as outlined in the San Francisco law.

Michel said that a San Francisco state appeals court in 1982 nullified an almost identical San Francisco gun ban largely on grounds that the city cannot enact an ordinance that conflicts with state law. San Francisco's Snodgrass replied that the ban was a municipal affair and was slightly different from the city's earlier version. The new version only applies to city residents, meaning nonresidents in the city or even tourists are not affected. He said the West Hollywood, and Los Angeles and Alameda county cases weighed in San Francisco's favor.

Judge Warren asked Snodgrass that if the real intent was for the safety of San Francisco residents, why wouldn't the measure apply to outsiders and tourists. Snodgrass said he didn't think the ordinance would be lawful if it applied to all, and said the measure was directed at gun violence in the homes of San Francisco residents. The NRA's Michel wondered how the law protects a San Francisco family with "somebody coming through your bedroom window at 2 o'clock in the morning."

The law bans gun and ammunition sales beginning March 1 and handgun possession April 1. The NRA and Snodgrass said they would probably agree to shelve the law pending Warren's decision, due in about 90 days. The city has not approved penalties for violators.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is considering a challenge to a similar handgun ban in the District of Columbia that alleges the law violates a Second Amendment right of individuals to bear arms. The NRA lawsuit here avoids those allegations.


NC: Authorities investigate deadly home invasion : "Robeson County authorities are investigating a home invasion that killed one man and left a homeowner in the hospital. Officials say Mario Sosa was at home with his wife and two young children about 8 a.m. Sunday morning when he heard gunshots.The Robeson County sheriff says a gunfight broke out between Sosa and three armed men. Sosa shot and killed one of the three men but not before he was shot himself. Sosa underwent surgery at Southeast Regional Medical Center. Deputies say they're still looking for the two other men who ran away."

No comments: