The court Monday refused to hear an appeal of a US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld a San Francisco ordinance requiring owners in their own home either to store firearms in a locked container or disable them with trigger locks when not in use. Gun owners can wear the gun in a holster, but other than that, the gun must be put away.
As is usual, the Supreme Court did not explain why it didn’t hear the case, although two justices argued the court should have heard it.
“San Francisco’s law allows residents to use their handguns for the purpose of self-defense, but it prohibits them from keeping those handguns operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense when not carried on the person,” US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a six page dissent about the case, Jackson v. City & County of San Francisco.
Justice Antonin Scalia joined Thomas’ dissent.
“In an emergency situation, the delay imposed by this law could prevent San Francisco residents from using their handguns for the lawful purpose of self-defense,” Thomas stated. “And that delay could easily be the difference between life and death.”
Thomas added, “The law thus burdens their right to self-defense at the times they are most vulnerable – when they are sleeping, bathing, changing clothes, or otherwise indisposed. There is consequently no question that San Francisco’s law burdens the core of the Second Amendment right.”
According to the San Francisco ordinance, violators could face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Six San Francisco residents joined the NRA and the San Francisco Veteran Police Officers Association in 2009 in challenging the law in federal court.
Conflicts with Landmark Heller Ruling
Thomas contended that the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Jackson conflicts with a landmark US Supreme Court ruling, District of Columbia v. Heller.
In that case, the Supreme Court ruled for the first time that the Second Amendment gives citizens a right to own firearms and possess them within the home for self-defense. Heller struck down a Washington, D.C. law that banned the possession of handguns.
The court’s ruling means that the San Francisco ordinance and similar laws in states and territories in the Ninth Circuit can be enforced. The Ninth Circuit covers Hawaii, Alaska, California, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington state.
But the law also gives a boost to gun control advocates outside of the Ninth Circuit who want to see other cities pass similar ordinances.
How do you feel about the San Francisco ordinance? Share your thoughts in the section below: