Take a good look at that “Guns Gunsmith” sign above, because it may not be a gun or gunsmith shop much longer. That sign sits above High Bridge Arms, the last remaining gun store in San Francisco near the intersection of Mission and Valencia streets. High Bridge Arms has been doing business there since the mid-1950s, but a new proposal before the Board of Supervisors may snuff the shop out with extensive new gun control requirements that the store feels will make it too difficult for SF’s last remaining gun store to continue operations.
The ordinance comes from Supervisor Mark Farrell (District 2), and proposes to require that all gun sales in San Francisco be videotaped. The proposal would further require that all gun and ammunition buyers’ names, birthdates, addresses and driver’s license numbers be supplied to the SFPD. Sup. Farrell proposed the idea in July, and it may be voted on this month. “My hope is that we can shepherd this through the legislative process before the end of this year and have it take effect at the beginning of 2016,” Farrell tells SFist.
High Bridge Arms’ general manager Steven Alcairo sees this proposal as so intrusive it would prevent any law-abiding firearms users from buying a gun in San Francisco. “Should this pass, we'll probably close,” Alcairo told KPIX. “What we don’t do is voluntarily give private information to the police department. We just don’t do that. People are very private about their information.”
Alcairo is currently traveling and could not be reached by SFist for comment, but a High Bridge employee confirmed that a closure is likely should this proposal pass. “Why would you shop here if you could just go to Pacifica?” the employee told SFist, noting that neighboring communities have less intrusive gun purchasing restrictions. “I wouldn’t shop here.”
Farrell, however, sees this as a matter of bringing San Francisco up to speed with gun control laws already being enacted in 17 other California counties. “There is similar legislation in multiple other counties across California,” he said. “What we are doing is essentially closing what amounts to a loophole between federal and state law and making sure that San Francisco continues to stay at the forefront of gun control legislation in our country.”
The supervisor’s office insists it doesn’t mean to close anyone’s brick-and-mortar business, and is looking for ways to apply the proposal to online sales as well. “We want this to be as broad as possible,” Farrell told SFist. “One of my top concerns always has been and always will be public safety. To me, that trumps all else.”
For those keeping score at home, this week saw San Francisco’s 31st homicide of 2015, and as of July the city’s homicide rate is up 71% compared to 2014. Whether videotaping gun and ammunition sales would lower those rates is something San Francisco might find out in 2016.