The last gun store in San Francisco says it’s been driven out of town by proposed new regulations.
Under the proposed new rules, holdout High Bridge Arms would have been required to videotape all firearm and ammunition sales and store them for at least five years' time. Data on ammunition sales and transfers—who bought or transferred what, and when, along with other personal information—would have to be turned over to the San Francisco Police Department at least once a week.
Calling these unprecedented and "intrusive" burdens, High Bridge announced it is ready to close its doors. As of next month, the shop will be shutting down its storefront in the city's gentrifying Mission District, a move which will make San Francisco the largest city in the country without a single gun shop, according to a Fusion analysis of the top 15 cities in the U.S. by population.
“It’s with tremendous sadness and regret that I have to announce we are closing our shop,” read a post on the High Arms Facebook page. “It has been a long and difficult ride, but a great pleasure to be your last San Francisco Gun shop.”
"This year, it's this [law] and next year will probably be something else," General Manager Steven Alcairo told Fox News. "We don't want to wait for it."
Previously, the business had been made to comply with regulations requiring it to fortify the building's security and to set up video surveillance. The shop currently has 17 cameras. Its managers say they turn footage over to police when required.
Mark Farrell, the city supervisor who is bringing the new proposal to vote, says despite the fact that the city already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country on the books, more can be done on public safety as it relates to guns. SFist recently reported that so far this year, the city is on track for "its highest homicide rate in years," mostly attributed to gun deaths.
"Easy access to guns and ammunition continue to contribute to senseless violent crime here in San Francisco and across the country,” Farrell said in a statement. "We should do everything in our power to give local law enforcement the additional tools they need to prevent crime and keep our neighborhoods safe."
The stated goal of the draft legislation is to "prevent and detect the sale of firearms and ammunition by dealers to persons who are prohibited by law from possessing these items," in addition to other public safety concerns, reads the statement.
But owners argue it would subject lawful gun owners to intrusions of their personal data, while criminals continue to buy their guns on the black market.
“The element we’re concerned with, they don’t shop here. They don’t,” manager Alcairo told a local CBS affiliate. “I mean you’re going to get video surveillance of people who are coming in here legally buying stuff with their identification, criminals are not doing that.”
The closure of the shop will be historic, as its prominent storefront on Mission Street has become somewhat of an icon of the neighborhood. In the mid-50s, it was opened by Bob Chow, the first Chinese-American to represent the United States in the Olympic Games. He competed in a 25-meter pistol shooting event in the 1948 Olympics in London. Chow died in 2003, but the shop continues to be Asian-American owned and operated. Defiantly, the shop has long sold t-shirts reading: "San Francisco's Last Gun Shop."
A clearance sale of everything in stock is currently underway, up until it finally shuts its doors for good some time next month. Management has announced it has no interest in fighting the proposed law in the courts if it passes.
The city of South San Francisco, a separate municipality, still has two registered gun shops.
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.