SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco's mayor has told department heads they cannot investigate the possible ties of city contractors to the National Rifle Association, prompting the gun-rights group to declare victory in its ongoing fight with the liberal city.
Mayor London Breed issued the advisory on Sept. 23, a few weeks after the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution labeling the NRA a "domestic terrorist organization" and calling on the city to take steps to assess possible ties between its contractors and the organization.
In a memo co-written by the city attorney, Breed wrote that the board can only enact new contracting requirements by ordinance. Resolutions have no legal weight.
William A. Brewer III, counsel to the NRA, said Tuesday the memo is a "clear concession" to a lawsuit filed in federal court against the city in response to the resolution. He called the memo a positive development but said the NRA will not withdraw its lawsuit until the resolution is formally revoked.
"San Francisco publicly, officially maligned law-abiding NRA members as terrorists and publicly, officially vowed to blacklist them from government work," he said.
City officials, however, say the organization is misinterpreting what the resolution does and is inaccurate in describing the memo as any kind of retreat.
John Cote, spokesman for the city attorney's office, said the resolution was never intended to change any laws.
"If the NRA thinks this is a win, it's only because their lawsuit completely distorts what the resolution actually does," he said.
The resolution approved by the Board of Supervisors contends that the gun-rights lobby uses its wealth and organizational strength to incite gun owners "to acts of violence." It also states that San Francisco "should take every reasonable step" to assess ties between its contractors and the NRA.
The NRA sued San Francisco in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California , saying that officials are violating the group's free speech rights for political reasons and that the city is seeking to blacklist anyone associated with the NRA.
Supervisor Catherine Stefani drafted the resolution after a shooter opened fire at a popular garlic festival in Gilroy, killing three people and wounding more before taking his own life.
She said Tuesday that the resolution did not direct the city to assess contracting practices.
"We made our point: the NRA is a terrorist organization. I will keep fighting them using every tool at my disposal," Stefani said.
The memo by the mayor states that until the board approves an ordinance, "no department will take steps to assess the relationships between city contractors and the NRA," or will departments restrict a contractor from doing business with the NRA.
The mayor also said she takes seriously the board's statements on the impact of gun violence and the role of the NRA's leadership, and will work with supervisors to address the "epidemic of gun violence."