March 26, 2014
A federal appeals court upheld two contentious San Francisco gun laws on Tuesday, ruling that the city’s regulations do not violate the Second Amendment. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the city requires gun owners to keep firearms stored in a locked container or safe, or inoperable with a trigger lock, when in a home. The city also forbids the sale of hollow-point ammunition. In 2009, gun owner Espanola Jackson sued the city with the support of the National Rifle Association and San Francisco Veteran Police Officer’s Association.
The three-judge panel of the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that neither law proved to be a significant burden on the Second Amendment or prevented residents from possessing and using firearms for self-protection. Judge Sandra S. Ikuta addressed both of the city’s regulations in a 35-page opinion, saying that modern gun safes provide speedy access and serve a public interest by reducing the number of gun-related injuries and deaths. Ikuta also added that “the Second Amendment protects ‘arms,’ weapons,’ and ‘firearms’; it does not explicitly protect ammunition.”
Ikuta continued by reasoning that because ammunition is needed to operate a firearm, the right to purchase ammunition is also protected. However, she disagreed that the ban of a certain type of ammo, such as hollow-point bullets, is a violation of the Second Amendment.
“Jackson contends that hollow-point bullets are far better for self-defense than fully jacketed ammunition because they have greater stopping power and are less likely to over penetrate or ricochet,” Ikuta wrote. “Barring their sale, she argues, therefore imposes a substantial burden on the right of self-defense. We disagree. There is no evidence in the record indicating that ordinary bullets are ineffective for self-defense.”
Hollow-point ammunition is popular among gun owners for self-defense because of its pitted shape, which causes the bullet to expand when hitting a target. It is generally thought to have a higher chance of causing immediate tissue damage than fully jacketed ammunition.