San Francisco takes small steps towards big idea of gun control
In the halls were framed photographs of groups of men, who looked pretty ordinary – one set looked like half a dozen hippies from the 1980s – and presumably these were undercover police officers posing for pictures. Back at the conference about 40 journalists were looking sombre in one of the building’s warehouses, just to the left of the truck belonging to the San Francisco bomb squad
The press conference had been called to announce a citywide ban on what it called extra-lethal hollow point ammunition, which is issued to the US military and law enforcement agencies. But the sale of hollow point ammunition is banned in San Francisco already. Lee and Cohen want to make it illegal to possess hollow point ammunition in San Francisco.
Cohen spoke about how she is weary of getting phone calls from the police or from the families of young men under 25 whose bodies had been destroyed by hollow-point ammunition.
“When they strike the victim it’s like a bomb going off inside the body,” said Campbell, referring to hollow point bullets. He has worked at San Francisco’s only trauma unit for 19 years. “The unique sound of a mother as she screams ‘My baby is dead. My baby is dead’ – I hope to never hear this sound again,” he said.
Yet things in San Francisco are getting better. In 2007 Campbell’s trauma unit saw 381 victims of gunfire. Last year it saw 182. The city’s attempts at limiting firearms have been opposed, on at least one occasion, by litigation funded by the National Rifle Association.
The other measure announced was that Lee and Cohen want to compel gun retailers to inform the police, at the time of purchase, whenever a customer buys more than 500 rounds of ammunition.
Lee paid tribute to his weightiest predecessor as mayor, Senator Diane Feinstein, who tried at a federal level to ban semi-automatic weapons of the type used in the Sandy Hook shootings. Lee said that that measure would be reintroduced in the new year.
Police chief Suhr announced that his department was retraining every SFPD officer in school safety tactics. He also said that his own gun had not been fired in 32 years on the job “except at target practice”. He seemed the most unabashed at the process, however timid, that was in train. “We’re coming together,” he said, “over a big idea – and that’s gun control”.