Restrictive Ordinances Force Last San Francisco Gun Shop to Close


It is the end of an era, and many gun owners fear it is a sign of things to come. The last operating gun store within San Francisco city limits, Highbridge Arms, announced it will be closing earlier this month. General manager Steve Alcairo confirmed the decision on Facebook and said that the store will be clearing out all available inventory as soon as possible.

“Dear friends and family, it’s with tremendous sadness and regret that I have to announce we are closing our shop. For many reasons I cannot get into at this moment, it appears our final days will be through to the end of October of 2015,” Highbridge Arms stated.

Highbridge Arms is a city landmark. The gun shop was originally opened in the 1950s by Olypmic shooter and gunsmith Bob Chow. In 1988, the store was sold to Andy Takahashi, who resisted closing down the store after the city zoning commission refused to renew the shop’s permit. The store was actually shut down several years ago due to opposition from local gun control groups, which lobbied the city to deny the shop a zoning permit. Fortunately for San Francisco gun owners, Alcairo was able to successfully reopen the shop in 2010.

Yet that seemed to only bring the gun store a half decade reprieve. When San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrel proposed a new ordinance this month that would require city gun shops—or rather, just the one—to keep video recordings of all gun and ammunition sales for at least a year, Alcairo commented that it was the last straw.

“What we don’t do is voluntarily give private information to the police department. Voluntarily, we just don’t do that. People are very private about their information,” Alcairo told KPIX 5.

Alcairo added that if the proposal passes, the store would likely close. The ordinance also targets other gun shops that make ammunition deliveries in the city, but as the only brick and mortar store in San Francisco, many gun owners say Highbridge Arms is being specifically targeted.

“Seems that they’re just trying to take the guns away from the people,” said Stephen Thorlton, a customer.

Inside the store hangs a Texas flag, which serves as a reminder of when fans and supporters encouraged the shop to move to Texas.
Inside the store hangs a Texas flag, which serves as a reminder of when fans and supporters encouraged the shop to move to Texas.

The ordinance has not yet been passed, but many say that even the specter of more gun control laws is enough for retailers to seek a more welcoming city. Professional sport shooter Chris Cheng, who proudly counted himself among the store’s regular customers, said that the ordinance and recent rent hikes are “adding insult to injury” for the gun store.

“It’s no secret that San Francisco has many anti-gun politicians in the Mayor’s office, the Board of Supervisors, and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi represents the city as well,” Cheng wrote on his blog. “While there has been no official comment from Highbridge Arms as to why they are closing, we can speculate that years of political pressure, an anti-gun climate in San Francisco, and anti-gun legislation and laws created a super storm making it challenging to run a gun shop in city limits.”

As the last gun shop in San Francisco, Highbridge Arms had become something of a tourist attraction, and definitely will leave a void. Cheng, like many others, said he will be sad to see it go. Alcairo did not say yet if the store will be reopening in a different location.

“It has been a long and difficult ride, but a great pleasure to be [your] last San Francisco Gun shop. Our warm regards, High Bridge Arms,” the shop wrote on Facebook.

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