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Supes want anti-gun law

Measure would ban possession by city residents.

By Alison Soltau and Bonnie Eslinger | Staff Writers
Published on Thursday, December 16, 2004
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Five city supervisors concerned with gun violence in San Francisco have created a ballot measure asking voters to prohibit the possession of handguns in The City and to ban the sale, manufacture and distribution of firearms in The City.

The bold move Wednesday triggered expressions of support from many civic leaders and an instant declaration of war from the powerful and litigious gun lobby.

"This will reduce homicide, suicide and domestic violence incidents involving guns," said Supervisor Chris Daly, who registered the November 2005 ballot measure with supervisors Matt Gonzalez, Bevan Dufty, Michela Alioto-Pier and Tom Ammiano.

The ordinance would prohibit San Francisco residents who are not in law enforcement from possessing a gun with a barrel fewer than 16 inches long, according to Bill Barnes, spokesman for the campaign.

A majority of voters would need to pass the ordinance, and then San Franciscans would have 90 days from Jan. 1, 2006, to surrender guns without fear of penalty. Non-residents, however, would not be subject to the possession law.

The ordinance campaign is "going on the road" in January for a year-long, all-out effort to persuade voters to support it, according Barnes. Campaigners hope to persuade community groups and are anticipating support from those affected by the 101 California Street massacre, where a gunman killed eight people in 1998.

Barnes said the gay community, still mindful of the 1978 assassination of Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone, would likely sign on, as would many in the African-American community, which was hit hard by slayings this year.

But the "wheels of opposition" are turning, said Chuck Michel, spokesperson for the California Rifle and Pistol Association.

"San Francisco has been cracking down on law-abiding gun owners while their gang problem runs rampant and they are looking for a scapegoat for a problem they have failed to control," he said. "This will be a very contentious and expensive fight for taxpayers."

Daly said he "didn't feel bad" about the gun lobby and the three licensed gun retailers and one manufacturer The City would put out of business.

Anti-violence campaigner Cathy Tyson, whose son was murdered, said the measure would reduce violence: "Normal, average people don't need guns."

A spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom said he had "no position yet."


No. of homicides to date this year: 83

In 2002 San Francisco had:

  • 176 handgun incidents in San Francisco, affecting a total of 213 victims.
  • Of those, 64 were fatalities, and of the 64, 21 were suicides.
  • Police only recovered 26.8 percent of the firearms.
  • Of all firearms used to cause injury or death, 67 percent were handguns.

Source: Department of Public Health

More stories by Alison Soltau and Bonnie Eslinger: