Categories: News

S.F. May Ban Guns at Large Demonstrations


Here’s a scary thought: All the times you’ve danced in a thong through the crowds at Folsom Street Fair, chugged PBR in your skivvies while running Bay to Breakers, or clapped along to drummers during the Lunar New Year Parade, there could have been someone next to you with a gun on them — and no, we’re not talking about cops. California’s state law allows those with a license to carry concealed firearms, and while S.F. isn’t exactly a trigger-happy gun-toting community, it is technically legal to bring a firearm to a large event in the city.

At least, it has been. New Supervisor Catherine Stefani, who took over Mark Farrell’s district when he became mayor, is seeking to amend the police code, creating a ban on guns at any large city demonstration with more than 20 people, be it a protest or a parade.

Gun violence generally isn’t an issue for events like Bay to Breakers, but it is at less-controlled events, like the Castro’s notorious Halloween celebration. The event has been officially canceled since 2006, when nine people were shot in an altercation between two groups. Nevertheless, revelers have continued to gather, and occasionally violence breaks out; an officer was shot in the neighborhood on Halloween in 2017.

Also in 2017, right-wing group Patriot’s Prayer threatened to descend upon Chrissy Field for a protest, raising concern that they would show up armed. Thanks to a 2010 federal firearm law, legally-permitted guns are allowed in national parks.

“It struck the fear of violence in many, and that must end,” Stefani said about the rally, noting that kids’ activities in the area were canceled, and the entire incident cost the city more than $1 million.

“The fear of gun violence is tangible, it’s real. They [kids] think about this all the time, they think about this when they go to school,” said Sup. Jeff Sheehy, who chairs the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services committee, which heard the proposal Wednesday.

Under Stefani’s police code amendment, a violation of the ban would be a misdemeanor and could come with a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. The item will be heard by the full Board of Supervisors in the coming weeks.

Nuala Sawyer Bishari

Nuala Sawyer Bishari is the News Editor at SF Weekly. You can reach her at (415)-359-2644 or nsawyer@sfweekly.com. Follow her on Twitter at @TheBestNuala or nualawrites.com.

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