San Francisco backs down to the NRA... for now

As you may recall, San Francisco recently passed a municipal resolution effectively blacklisting the NRA in their city and encouraging everyone to refuse to do business with the organization or its members. This predictably resulted in the group bringing a lawsuit against the city in short order. It looks like their Mayor, London Breed, saw the writing on the wall and didn’t feel like waiting around for a court to smack them down. On Friday she issued a memorandum basically saying, our bad, nevermind. (Daily Caller)

The National Rifle Association of America declared victory in San Francisco today, after Mayor London Breed formally disavowed key provisions of a municipal resolution that signaled the blacklisting of contractors linked to the Second Amendment advocacy group…

Late last week, rather than await “instruction” from a court, San Francisco Mayor London Breed backed down. In a formal memorandum to City officials, she declared that “no [municipal] 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.”

“Through these actions and our public advocacy, we hope the message is now clear,” says NRA CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. “The NRA will always fight to protect our members and the constitutional freedoms in which they believe.”

On the surface, this certainly looks like good news for Second Amendment fans and an embarrassing loss for Mayor Breed and the City Council. You don’t issue that sort of a walk back unless someone with a basic understanding of the law whispered in your ear and let you know that you were walking into a legal buzzsaw. This was such a blatantly illegal maneuver that the authors of the original resolution should really be evaluated for criminal incompetence.

But is it really over and should the NRA drop the suit at this point? Yes, the resolution is being rescinded and the Mayor’s instructions sound clear enough. But in some ways, the damage has already been done. The city put out a very clear signal with their bungled resolution and both the people making contracting decisions and the private businesses around the city undoubtedly got the message loud and clear.

It may not be an “official policy” to reject deals with businesses associated with the NRA, but that doesn’t mean that anyone has to do business with them either. If there are multiple bidders for any particular bit of business and there’s an unofficial list of NRA associates floating around, those associates might just happen to not win the bid. Proving in court that the sort of discrimination I’m describing is taking place would be difficult, to say the least.

Now that the city has made its position clear, the NRA could face a sort of “shadow banning” of the same type that conservative Twitter accounts frequently run into. Some sort of oversight of the San Francisco municipal government at a higher level should be in order. Since all of their business dealings are matters of public record, periodic reviews of contracts awarded and bids received could be conducted to see if NRA associates are just coincidentally doing less business going forward.

Just as a reminder, the NRA is still engaged in a similar lawsuit in Los Angeles, where a nearly identical resolution was passed but the city isn’t backing down. As the Daily Caller points out, however, a federal district judge threw out the city’s bid to dismiss the suit entirely last month. All of the caveats I mentioned here should be kept in mind for that case as well.

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David Strom 8:01 AM on February 03, 2023