Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Thursday, November 5, 2009

S.F. Police Still Enforcing Obsolete Anti-BB Gun Ordinance

Posted By on Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 6:30 AM

click to enlarge 16127521_400x400.jpg
Last month we wrote about how the San Francisco Police Department considered possession of a BB gun within city limits to be illegal -- even though the District Attorney and Public Defender acknowledged that the city's anti-BB gun ordinance has been obsolete since 2004. That's when a state law regarding BB gun possession took effect; interestingly, that '04 law was passed with the overt intention of doing away with odd, persnickety ordinances like San Francisco's.

Well, there's the law and there's the law. A recent police report described officers from Taraval Station stopping a driver for an alleged road rage incident, then citing him for possessing an air pistol. A sergeant familiar with the case told SF Weekly that the citation was not due to the man brandishing the pistol or employing it during his aggressive driving -- but merely for possessing a BB gun, which the police still consider illegal within city limits (you are allowed to possess a real gun, by the way). 

The wheels of justice move slowly, it would seem. Unless you're toting a BB gun.

Incidentally, state laws allow anyone to own a BB gun, so long as he or she doesn't exhibit it in public, discharge it recklessly, or carry it onto school ground or other sensitive areas. Meanwhile, according to Section 602 of San Francisco's Police Municipal Code, anyone in the city is forbidden from possessing any "toys projecting missiles by air or gas" within city limits. Yes, the police are within their rights if they take your air pistol out of your gun locker, but leave your M-16 rifle.

But just because a local ordinance has been overridden -- for five years -- by a state law specifically penned to override it doesn't mean the cops can stop enforcing it.

"Until the chief of police tells us not to cite on this offense, we will continue to do the citations," confirms the sergeant.

He has no choice. It's the law. Even though it isn't.

  • Pin It

Tags: , , ,

About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" is a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly, which he has written for since 2007. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers... more


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • The Soiled Dove
    Vau de Vire presents The Soiled Dove, a Barbary Coast themed dinner-theater complete with the Emperor himself stumbling around in a drunken stupor. Photographs by Beth LaBerge.
  • 4th Annual Mr. Marina Competition
    Mike Thomas was announced Mr. Marina 2015 on Wednesday, March 18th. Chubbies, spray tans and unitards hit the stage for the 4th Annual Mr. Marina competition raising $195k. Highlights included a great rendition of Sia's Chandelier and a marina inspired "Fancy" performance. Photographs by Calibree Photography.