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Supreme Court rejects NRA's appeal over San Francisco's handgun laws

Justices deny a review of San Francisco laws that require trigger locks and ban hollow point bullets

The Supreme Court turned down a National Rifle Association-led appeal aimed at loosening gun restrictions in San Francisco.

The court on Monday let stand lower court rulings that upheld a San Francisco measure that requires handgun owners to secure weapons in their homes by storing them in a locker, keeping them on their bodies or applying trigger locks. A second ordinance bans the sale of ammunition that expands on impact, which is commonly referred to as hollow-point bullets and, according to the Court, has "no sporting purpose."

The Ninth Circuit Court held that the city had a legitimate purpose in applying laws that reduce the danger of guns, and that while it did burden the rights of gun owners, it didn’t burden them so much they couldn’t exercise the rights to self-defense enshrined in the Second Amendment.

“The record contains ample evidence that storing handguns in a locked container reduces the risk of both accidental and intentional handgun-related deaths, including suicide,” Circuit Judge Sandra S. Ikuta wrote in the court’s opinion in March of last year.

“Based on the evidence that locking firearms increases safety in a number of different respects, San Francisco has drawn a reasonable inference that mandating that guns be kept locked when not being carried will increase public safety and reduce firearm casualties.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas said they would have heard the appeal from the NRA and San Francisco gun owners.

“Despite the clarity with which we described the Second Amendment’s core protection for the right of self-defense, lower courts, including the ones here, have failed to protect it,” Thomas wrote in the dissent.

“Because Second Amendment rights are no less protected by our Constitution than other rights enumerated in that document, I would have granted this petition," Thomas, a traditionally conservative justice, wrote. 

Gun rights supporters have been frustrated by the court's unwillingness to expand on a landmark gun rights ruling from 2008 in District of Columbia vs. Heller. That year, the court overturned D.C.’s strict ban on handguns, allowing for D.C. residents to keep handguns in their home, a previously illegal practice.

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press

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