Issues

San Francisco Mayor Rejects NRA Ban in Wake of Lawsuit

NRA: 'Memo serves as a clear concession and a well-deserved win for the First and Second Amendments'

Mayor of San Francisco London Breed
Mayor of San Francisco London Breed / Getty Images

The San Francisco mayor sent a memo last week to city employees telling them not to blacklist contractors who support the National Rifle Association despite a city council resolution asking the city to do so.

The memo, first reported by the San Francisco Examiner, shows Mayor London Breed telling city employees the resolution is nonbinding and will have no effect on how the city hires contractors.

"Because the Resolution did not change City law, the City's contracting process and policies have not changed and will not change as a result of the Resolution," Breed's memo said. "Unless and until the Board of Supervisors enacts an ordinance imposing new requirements, no department will take steps to assess the relationships between City contractors and the NRA, and no department will take steps to restrict any contractor from doing business with the NRA or to restrict City contracting opportunities for any business that has any relationship with the NRA."

The memo comes after the NRA filed suit against the city over the resolution, which declared the gun rights group a "domestic terrorist organization" and told the city it should stop doing business with anyone who supports them. The NRA's suit argued the resolution was "obviously unconstitutional" because it violates the group and its supporters' First Amendment rights.

"The memo serves as a clear concession and a well-deserved win for the First and Second Amendments of the United States Constitution," William A. Brewer III, whose law firm represented the NRA in the case, said in a statement. "It is unfortunate that in today's polarized times, some elected officials would rather silence opposing arguments than engage in good-faith debate. The NRA is America's oldest civil rights organization—and won't stand for that."

San Francisco officials disputed that assessment, though, calling the memo a mere reminder that the initial resolution was nonbinding.

"The memo is not a concession. It just explains what has always been true—the resolution does not change the law," John Cote, spokesperson for city attorney Dennis Herrera, told the San Francisco Examiner. "If the NRA thinks this is a win, it's only because their lawsuit completely distorts what the resolution actually does."

A similar suit by the NRA against the city of Los Angeles remains pending in federal court. NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said the suits are proof the group would continue to fight any locality that tries to discriminate against it or its supporters.

"Through these actions and our public advocacy, we hope the message is now clear," he said in a statement. "The NRA will always fight to protect our members and the constitutional freedoms in which they believe."