The ban in San Francisco bars people from carrying handguns on county property, including in parks, schools and community centers. Mayor Gavin Newsom said city attorneys have been researching new regulations that might place tighter controls on ammunition and further restrict where guns could be carried.
Newsom said the ruling “just flies in the face of reality.”
“You just wish the Supreme Court could spend a week in public housing and then come out with this decision,” he added. “It’s very easy and comfortable to stand there with security guards and metal detectors and make these decisions.”
In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that “fighting illegal guns has nothing to do with the Second Amendment rights of Americans,” and that local authorities “have a responsibility to crack down on illegal guns and punish gun criminals.”
“[I]t is encouraging that the Supreme Court recognizes the constitutionality of reasonable regulations,” Bloomberg added.
The high court said that nothing in its ruling should “cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons or the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.”
The ruling was celebrated in gun shops, by gun rights advocates, and by elected officials who support greater freedoms for gun owners. The White House embraced the decision even though it went further than the Bush administration had wanted.
Meanwhile, victims of violence and leaders of jurisdictions with gun laws similar to Washington’s said the decision would only encourage violence.
“There are so many guns on the streets,” said Pamela Bosely, a Chicago resident whose 18-year-old son Terrell was fatally shot in 2006. “If you didn’t have the guns, we’d still have our children.”
Washington’s handgun ban went into effect in 1976, an attempt to stop a wave of gun-related violence. City residents cannot keep handguns in their homes, with the exception of law enforcement officials and those who owned guns before the ban.
The law’s effectiveness is questionable. More than 8,400 people have been killed in the past 32 years, many with handguns.
Fenty, the mayor of the District of Columbia, said last Thursday that the city has 21 days to draft new regulations for handgun registration, but that during that time, the ban remains in effect.
In Washington’s Trinidad neighborhood, where police recently set up controversial vehicle checkpoints to reduce gun violence, reaction to the court’s ruling was mixed.
Sadie Kirkland said the Supreme Court’s decision has “legalized the turf and gun war.” Kirkland, whose brother was shot and killed in 1995 by a friend in a dispute over guns, feared the city’s crime would soar following the ban’s dissolution.
But Wilhelmina Lawson, who lives several doors down, disagreed. She said she grew up with guns and believes that as long as people are responsible they should be allowed to own them.
“If they ban honest people from having guns, the people doing the killing will still get them,” she said.
People offered similar comments near Henderson, Ky., where a worker opened fire at a plastics plant earlier this week, killing five co-workers and himself. The gunman was known to have kept a .45-caliber pistol in his car, which is legal in Kentucky.
“The law is scattered around these parts, and everyone has a right to have a gun,” said Jimmy Mooney, who described himself as semi-retired.
Material from The Associated Press and The Chicago Tribune was used in this report.