A San Francisco Board of Supervisors committee today approved two pieces of legislation targeting the sale and possession of certain ammunition in the city.
The ordinances would make certain military-grade ammunition illegal to possess in San Francisco and require businesses to notify police when someone buys 500 rounds or more of ammunition in a single transaction.
The board's city operations and neighborhood services committee voted to move both items to the full board with a positive recommendation. Supervisor Malia Cohen, representative of the often shooting-plagued Bayview District and other neighborhoods in the southeast part of the city, said, "I know all too well about the impact of senseless gun violence."
Cohen, who is a co-sponsor of the legislation along with Mayor Ed Lee, said the ordinances "are not a panacea, but can be another tool in our efforts to address gun violence."
The ammunition that would be illegal to possess in San Francisco are hollow-point bullets with barbs that inflict more damage in a shooting victim.
"These barbs cause significant damage to internal organs ... and make surgical repair effectively impossible," said Jason Elliott from the mayor's office. Violators would face up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine.
Military members and law enforcement personnel would be exempt from the legislation.
Police Capt. Denis O'Leary said the Police Department supports the ban on the military-grade ammunition, which is already illegal to sell in the city. Supervisor David Campos called the ordinances "a very measured approach to the rising problem of having too many guns on the streets" and thought the city was "on strong legal footing" if opponents potentially file lawsuits over the constitutionality of the legislation.
Federal and state legislators are also mulling other gun control laws in the wake of the massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut in December, but despite the hot button issue, only a handful of people came to speak at the public comment portion of today's meeting at City Hall.
Robert Green said he opposed the proposals, which he said "will do little to nothing to help public safety."
Regarding the requirement that businesses notify police of large ammunition purchases, Green said the city "should focus on purchases by prohibited persons" rather than an arbitrary purchase by a non-criminal.
However, Campos noted that many of the recent large-scale shootings, such as the one in Connecticut, were carried out by people who had a legal right to buy the bullets and no criminal history.
"You should not be afraid of the chief of police knowing that you're purchasing ammunition," Campos said. "If you're not doing anything wrong or illegal, the fact that the chief of police knows should not be a problem."