Supervisors approve tough gun measure
Wyatt Buchanan, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
San Francisco's already tough laws on firearms will get even stronger -- becoming some of the most restrictive in the country -- after a vote at City Hall Tuesday. But even new restrictions won't do much to stop the gun violence escalating on city streets, one sponsor of the new laws said after the vote.
The violence that has been generally confined to more crime-plagued neighborhoods crossed into a major tourist area Monday afternoon, with a shooting that left one person dead and put bullet holes through the front window of a popular restaurant.
Gun-related homicides, injuries from shootings, and gun crimes in and around schools are becoming increasingly common, according to the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice.
The laws -- which gained final approval from the Board of Supervisors -- would restrict both the sale and possession of firearms.
Specifically, they would prohibit the possession or sale of firearms on city property, require firearms in residences to be in a locked container or have trigger locks and require firearm dealers to submit an inventory to the chief of police every six months.
The last provision is intended to allow city officials to know how many guns are sold, though there is only one gun shop in the city.
"We're pleased that, as soon as the mayor signs this, San Francisco has the strongest anti-gun laws in the nation," said Nathan Ballard, spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom. The mayor sponsored the legislation, along with Supervisors Sophie Maxwell and Ross Mirkarimi.
Despite the laws, however, Mirkarimi said he doubts they will quell the kind of violence that erupted on Monday afternoon, which police suspect may be tied to a feud between a San Francisco gang and an East Bay gang.
The shooting happened at the corner of Ellis and Cyril Magnin streets, across from the Hilton hotel and near the Powell Street cable car turnaround.
"Nobody should be surprised about the migration and proliferation of gun violence in San Francisco," Mirkarimi said. "We've been saying this for two-and-a-half years, that the murders, homicides and gun violence that have been occurring in the more routine areas ... have now migrated into other areas."
The number of shootings resulting in nonfatal injuries continues to rise, with 269 such incidents in 2005 and 303 in 2006. As of May 10 of this year, there were 105.
Supervisor Maxwell said the new restrictions, which passed 8-3, are separate issues from the violence in the streets. Supervisors Aaron Peskin, Chris Daly and Ed Jew voted "no."
While the mayor has praised these new restrictions, he only expressed tepid support for Proposition H in 2005, which would have required gun owners to surrender their weapons to police and would have made it illegal to buy and sell firearms and ammunition in the city.
Voters passed the proposition with 58 percent in favor, but it is tied up in court after the National Rifle Association challenged its constitutionality. Newsom said the vote amounted to a "public opinion poll."
The gun owners association did not return a call for comment on the new restrictions Tuesday afternoon.
Peskin said he didn't support the laws because he believes they will have no impact.
"It is silly feel-good legislation with no teeth," Peskin said.
Daly has questioned Newsom's commitment to gun control, noting that the mayor wasn't a strong backer of Prop. H, which Daly sponsored.
Jew said sufficient laws already are in place and he questioned the further use of city resources on the issue in the wake of challenges to Prop.