San Francisco Considers Handgun Ban
Sunday, January 02, 2005
SAN FRANCISCO — The city that bucked state law and sanctioned gay marriage (search) is now taking aim at the constitutional right to bear arms (search) by proposing a ban in San Francisco on private ownership of all handguns.
"When you get guns out of people's homes and off the streets, it means that that gun is not going to be used in a shooting that kills someone, whether a murder or an accidental shooting," said Chris Daly, supervisor of San Francisco.
San Francisco officials are pushing a ballot measure to prohibit just about everyone who isn't a cop, security guard or member of the military from having a handgun in their home or office.
Supporters of gun rights, however, say the ban would deny basic rights.
"What it's really about, the end game is, taking away civilians' firearms and depriving them of the most effective tool that there is for self-defense," said Chuck Michel, spokesman for the California Rifle and Pistol Association (search).
Despite state laws that prevent local governments from banning handguns, the city believes doing just that will stem a wave of homicides that's left 87 people dead this year.
Washington, D.C., banned handguns in response to its skyrocketing homicide rate in 1976. But nearly three decades later, it had more murders per capita than any other city its size.
Opponents are already planning lawsuits, but argue that even if it does pass, this ban won't stop crime as law-abiding citizens give up their guns while the criminals flock to a city that ensures they won't be shot at by the people they're robbing.
"And what's going to happen if this passes is people in San Francisco are going to be deprived of their ability to defend themselves," Michel said.
"I don't feel like I need to own a gun to protect myself. Certainly, I am a high-profile elected official and now a lot of gun owners don't like me individually, but if I'm in a situation where I feel threatened, I'll call the police," Daly said.
If approved by voters next year, the ban will take effect in 2006.