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NRA to sue SF next week, Sunnyvale a week after

As promised, the National Rifle Association soon will sue San Francisco and Sunnyvale over their recently approved gun-control ordinances.

“Our office, in representation of the National Rifle Association, will first be filing suit with the city of San Francisco on Monday or Tuesday of next week and then file with the city of Sunnyvale on or about the following Tuesday 11/26,” Mark Selmi, spokesman for NRA West Coast counsel Chuck Michel, said in an email sent late Thursday afternoon. “The National Shooting Sports Foundation may also independently file with both cities.”

San Francisco supervisors on Oct. 29 unanimously approved a ban on possession of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The state’s assault weapon ban has forbidden their manufacture, sale or transfer since 2000, but let people who owned them before then keep them; the city’s possession ban will require owners to get rid of them within 90 days, no matter when they were bought.

Sunnyvale voters on Nov. 5 approved Measure C, which requires gun owners to notify police within 48 hours of the loss or theft of their firearms, and to keep firearms locked up when not in the owner’s immediate possession. It also requires ammunition sellers to keep buyers’ names for two years, and includes a magazine possession ban similar to San Francisco’s. Each provision mirrors bills that failed this year in Sacramento. Unless put on hold by a court, it’ll take effect in January.

Even before it passed, the NRA had vowed to challenge it in court. State laws pre-empt Measure C, Michel had said, and it infringes on gun owners’ constitutional rights. “Measure C will confiscate the property of Sunnyvale residents and mandate an inappropriate universal firearm storage requirement that ignores individual circumstances, putting gun owners’ lives at risk.”

Sunnyvale Mayor Tony Spitaleri, the driving force behind Measure C, had denounced the NRA’s lawsuit threat: “All they are doing is bullying.” On election night, he told supporters that “What we did here, quite bluntly, is we defeated the NRA tonight.”

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San Francisco nudists’ latest court action flops

A federal judge has declined to issue a temporary restraining order blocking San Francisco’s new public-nudity law.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen ruled Thursday that nudists failed to present specific evidence of how the nudity ban has infringed their constitutional rights, or of why they’d be likely to succeed if the case went to trial.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors late last year adopted an ordinance barring people from baring their genitals on public streets, sidewalks, and most other public rights-of-way as well as on transit vehicles and in transit stations. Exceptions were carved out for permitted events and festivals, and for children under the age of five.

Chen in January issued an order dismissing these same nudists’ effort to keep the law from taking effect Feb. 1. His order back then sided with the city’s arguments that the constitutionality of local restrictions on public nudity has been repeatedly upheld in the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and that such bans are a valid and longstanding feature of municipal codes throughout the nation.

Thursday’s ruling dealt with an “as-applied” challenge filed last week, after the law was in effect, claiming the city and its police were chilling their First Amendment rights to engage as in political speech as nudists by taking them into custody rather than writing them tickets for violating the law. The city countered that the nudists have no constitutional right to expose themselves in public.

“And Plaintiffs do not explain, much less submit any evidence demonstrating, how the ordinance prevents them from engaging in political speech or artistic expression,” Deputy City Attorney Tara Steeley wrote in the city’s brief. “Plaintiffs remain free to express any message they want. They simply must cover their ‘genitals, perineum, or anal region’ while on streets, sidewalks and certain other public places.”

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Video: SF Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi’s jailhouse dance

Remember our story last month about San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, who was nearly booted out of office last year after a misdemeanor false imprisonment conviction for an incident with his wife, helping to arrange a choreographed dance for inmates and staff at county jails on Valentine’s Day?

He had invited Dancing Without Borders – a group dedicated to “the healing and unifying power of dance and music as a ritual, community building and empowerment vehicle,” according to the group’s website – to coordinate the event in the men’s and women’s jails in conjunction with One Billion Rising, an international effort to call attention Thursday to violence against women and girls. Female inmates in the Sisters in Sober Treatment Empowered in Recovery program took part, as did male inmates in the Resolve to Stop the Violence Program.

And is there video? Yes, there is video.

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Federal judge to SF nudists: Keep it zipped.

A federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit challenging San Francisco’s new ordinance banning most public nudity, clearing the way for it to take effect this Friday.

District Judge Edward Chen’s order sided with the city’s arguments that the constitutionality of local restrictions on public nudity has been repeatedly upheld in the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and that such bans are a valid and longstanding feature of municipal codes throughout the nation.

“Even though we’re not surprised by Judge Chen’s ruling, we’re gratified by an outcome that affirms established case law and preserves reasonable exceptions for permitted events,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a news release.

“Ironically, the nudism advocates’ equal protection claim raised legal questions about the validity of exceptions that the Board and Mayor approved, which allow nudity at events like Bay to Breakers and the Folsom Street Fair,” Herrera said. “The plaintiffs took an unlikely position in their case that if they couldn’t be naked everywhere, no one could be naked anywhere. We believed their legal challenge to be baseless, and we’re grateful that the court agreed.”

Chen ruled that the nudism advocates’ First Amendment-based challenge lacked merit because “public nudity alone is not expression protected by the First Amendment,” and because the ordinance was “not substantially overbroad.” He also rejected their arguments that exemptions for such permitted events such as Bay to Breakers and the Folsom Street Fair violated constitutional Equal Protection guarantees, holding that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that the exceptions lacked a rational basis.

Chen dismissed this challenge without leave to amend, but left the door open for nudism advocates to amend their pleading later with “as-applied” claims – meaning, after they’re arrested – provided they can do so.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors late last year adopted an ordinance barring people from baring their genitals on public streets, sidewalks, and most other public rights-of-way as well as on transit vehicles and in transit stations. Exceptions were carved out for permitted events and festivals, and for children under the age of five.

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Nudists to descend upon SF City Hall again

Nudists say they’ll descend upon San Francisco City Hall again Tuesday for the Board of Supervisors’ 2013 inaugural meeting.

Naturally, they stand ready to disrobe should Supervisor Scott Wiener – who authored the public nudity ordinance they so vociferously and visually protested last year – be elected president of the board at the noon meeting. And whether or not Wiener gets the gavel, they’re planning to be out on City Hall’s steps – or if it rains, at the Center for Sex and Culture on Mission Street – right after the meeting.

Later Tuesday, they’ll convene at the center for the release of their eBook – “Free Your Body, Free Your Mind!” – with proceeds to pay for nudist legal defense and direct action. The book contains more than 200 color photographs, they say, as well as essays and first-person accounts of “body freedom” and public nudity.

The ordinance that supervisors approved in November won’t take effect until Feb. 1, leaving time for the opponents to have their day in court. That day is coming next Thursday, Jan. 17, with a hearing at which U.S. District Judge Edward Chen will consider whether to grant the nudists an injunction against the new law.

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SF seeks dismissal of nudists’ federal lawsuit

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a motion today seeking the dismissal of a federal lawsuit challenging the city’s new ban on public nudity.

The city and county’s Board of Supervisors approved the ban – which provides exceptions for certain city-permitted events and for those under the age of five – at a climactic meeting Nov. 20, and affirmed it Dec. 4.

Opponents of the ban had sued even before the ordinance was passed, claiming it would violate their rights under the First and Fourteenth amendments. The plaintiffs originally sought a temporary restraining order to stop the supervisors from passing the law, but U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen opted instead to consider the challenge instead as a petition for a preliminary injunction, once the ordinance was enacted.

“Public nudity bans are a longstanding feature of municipal codes throughout the nation, and their constitutionality has been repeatedly affirmed by the courts – including the U.S. Supreme Court,” Herrera said in a news release today.

“Ironically, the only novel legal theory plaintiffs put forward in this case is an equal protection claim that could actually undermine exceptions that allow nudity at permitted events like Bay to Breakers and the Folsom Street Fair,” he added. “The nudism advocates seem to have taken the position that if they can’t be naked everywhere, no one can be naked anywhere. Fortunately, the legal challenge is without a basis in the law, and we’re confident the court will dismiss.”