Retired SF Cops Band With NRA To Fight Ban On High-Capacity Ammunition Magazines

A group of retired police officers and four San Francisco residents sued the city in federal court today to challenge a new law banning high-capacity ammunition magazines.

The lawsuit, sponsored by the National Rifle Association, claims the measure violates the constitutional Second Amendment right to bear arms.

“Limiting magazine capacity for law-abiding citizens to 10 rounds decreases public safety by giving violent criminals an advantage and thus decreasing the likelihood a victim will survive a criminal attack,” the suit contends.

The law was passed by the Board of Supervisors in October and signed by Mayor Ed Lee on Nov. 8. With a few exceptions, such as one for active law enforcement officers, it makes it a misdemeanor to possess ammunition magazines carrying more than 10 bullets within the city.

The bullet dispensers can be used with machine guns, semi-automatic rifles and some semi-automatic handguns.

The plaintiffs are the San Francisco Veteran Police Officers Association, retired officer Larry Barsetti, retired U.S. Navy master chief Arthur Ritchie and city residents Rainero Granados and Randall Low.

The lawsuit cites a landmark 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision in which the high court said the constitutional right to bear arms applies to individuals as well as state militias.

It seeks an injunction blocking implementation of the law, which is due to take effect on Dec. 8. If left in place, the measure will give people owning the magazines until March 8 to dispose of them or take them out of the city.

No date has been set for a hearing on the injunction request.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera vowed a “vigorous defense” of the law and said he believes it will be upheld.

“The U.S. Supreme Court—even in expanding the Second Amendment’s scope—has been unequivocal that state and local governments are constitutionally entitled to enact reasonable firearms regulations,” Herrera said.

“I have faith that the federal judiciary will agree that San Francisco’s gun laws protect public safety in a manner that’s both reasonable and constitutional,” he said.

The Supreme Court said in 2008 that the amendment protects “the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.” But it also said the right to carry guns is “not unlimited” and that some regulation is permissible.

Sunnyvale voters on Nov. 5 approved a similar measure banning possession of magazines containing more than 10 bullets.

Chuck Michel, the NRA lawyer who filed today’s lawsuit, said the association is preparing a similar challenge to the Sunnyvale law and will file the suit after passage of the law is certified, which is expected next month.

In another gun rights case, the NRA has asked a federal appeals court to strike down two other San Francisco laws that regulate gun possession and ammunition sales.

One measure requires gun owners other than peace officers to keep their weapons in a locked container or use trigger lock devices when they are not carrying the guns. The other prohibits gun shops in the city from selling dangerous ammunition, such as fragmenting bullets, that serves no sporting purpose.

The NRA and the San Francisco Veteran Police Officers Association challenged those laws in a 2009 lawsuit. They appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg of San Francisco declined to grant a preliminary injunction in 2012.

A three-judge panel of the circuit court heard arguments on the appeal in San Francisco on Oct. 7 and now has the case under consideration.

Julia Cheever, Bay City News

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!

    When are you idiots in office going to get it through your out of touch minds and realize that criminals aren’t affected by your gun laws

  • Matthew Silvey

    Seriously, you deleted my comment? Was saying the author lacked knowledge of the topic on which she was writing too harsh? Did it violate your comment policy? Grow up.

  • sean

    And what situation in SF are you planning on surviving where 10 bullets aren’t enough, but 15 is?

    • Jonathan Tz

      By that logic, you don’t NEED a fire extinguisher nor a seat belt.

      • sean

        You’re correct, I don’t need more than 10 fire extinguishers or seat belts. There isn’t a plausible situation that would call for that.

        • Jeff McFall

          Sean, I will give you the best situation of all time. It has to do with the entire reason the founders put the second ammendment in the constitution. When sometime in the future when the liberals and progressives brainwash enough people to elect a socialist or someone who decides that he/she is the only true law of the land and tries to alter our current form of government. That’s when we will all need more than 10 rounds. The second ammendment is to keep us free and to allow the people to keep our country free if EVER there is an attempt to take away our freedoms. It has nothing to do with hunting or target practice. It is the ONLY deterent to losing our freedoms. I find it amazing that people can wonder what we need weapons for and then in the next breath support our current president when he wants to send true assault weapons to the FREEDOM FIGHTERS in Egypy or Syria or Lybia. The only difference is that we will never need a foreign ruler to help us and send us weapons when we are in that same position. Please get a clue and try reading some actual history and why the founders put the second ammendment in the Bill of Rights. Your probably one of those idiots who think our form of government is a Democracy. I would say go back to school and learn something but the progressives have about taken over education and no longer teach government or American History very well.

        • Jonathan Tz

          Also, back to the analogy, it would be analogous to you only needing a fire extinguisher of a specific size, no larger. It would be implausible you would be able to put out a bigger fire so why bother with a larger extinguisher capacity? Call the fire department for that, they got the big guns and are trained for bigger fires. They’ll come to your house to clean it up after it’s completely destroyed.

          On the nail Jeff. Also, for the many who don’t bother with Google, our form of government is a Constitutional Republic.

          Strive to have an INFORMED opinion vs. just being opinionated.

        • JSebastian

          Yet there are plenty of instances where people need more than 10 bullets. Home invasions, multiple assailants. If you don’t need more than ten bullets then why do cops carry so much more ammo ?

    • buddybrewer

      I hear this argument often, usually from people who envision a TV-style scenario involving a single attacker who falls down immediately from a single shot. Just know that years ago, police departments made a costly switch from low capacity revolvers to semi-autos holding 15-17 rounds because they felt more capacity improved the survival rate of their officers. If 15-17 rounds is what police officers need to defend themselves against criminals, I don’t see why law abiding citizens should be forced to defend themselves with less.

  • sunsetcat

    you spelled a name wrong.

    “retired officer Larry Barsette”. it’s actually Barsetti. i doubt the author or SFA will notice/care, who do i contact to change it?

    • eveb

      Hi, sunsetcat — Eve Batey, Appeal editor here. Not sure why you think we wouldn’t care about this misspelling! We appreciate the correction, and will pass it on to Bay City News. Thanks for pointing it out.

      • sunsetcat

        just something ive noticed when attempting to correct newspapers/blogs etc in the past. nothing against you guys, i guess its just come to be my automatic thought. no need to contact them, i sent em an email about it once i figured it out. thanks very much for the quick reply.

        • eveb

          Ha! I just contacted them, too (right after I made the correction in the story). BCN will know know to spell that name now, for sure!

          And any time you see an error or something that needs clarification, please don’t hesitate to comment, or email us at Thanks again for the fix!

  • frenchjr25

    One of the stupidest arguments I have ever heard. We are talking about San Francisco. These officers are putting their own political ideology above their actual experiences on the job.

  • Andrew Vernon

    Most people in San Francisco are brain-washed by a poor educational system that feeds them whatever the social elites in charge want to feed them. I have worked here for years as a military recruiter, and half of the highschool seniors in this city cannot even pass the ASVAB (let alone score above the 50th percentile.
    The reason that we are allowed to own magazines containing more than 10 rounds is because it is, plain and simply, a right. A 30 round AR-15 magazine is not high capacity, as the ignorant gun control crowd claims. A 30 round magazine is factory standard for this firearm (a fact that any military or law enforcement member would know). So why should a citizen not own what is standard?
    This is the same way that people out here will ban features on a firearm without even knowing what the features do. They just ‘look scary’. Typical social elitist garbage. I cannot wait to leave this city. You can enjoy your high taxes, social welfare programs, crap educational system and intrusive city government. I’ll go back home where we have no taxes (save property and food and beverage), a highly ranked education system and the freedom to live our lives as we wish.

    • JSebastian

      I guess that large Asian population isn’t doing much to contribute to the academic scores of the city, overall. Outweighed by too many blacks and hispanics?

  • Andrew Vernon

    By the way, San Francisco is by far the most un-American city that I have ever been in. You fly rainbow flags down your streets instead of American flags. You ban gun ownership, but legalize marijuana (or might as well since SFPD is not allowed to enforce anything). Hopefully the next earthquake knocks San Francisco off of the United States so it can drift over the Communist China where it really belongs.