San Francisco Becomes First U.S. City Without Gun Shops

Facing increased gun control regulations and mounting pressure from liberal residents, High Bridge Arms on Mission Street in San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood announced plans to close on Oct. 31, which will make it the first U.S. city without gun shops, Christian Science Monitor reported.

High Bridge Arms has been open since the 1950s, but the business has faced growing restrictions and organized campaigns demanding its closure, thanks to the concerted efforts of lawmakers and voters. General Manager Steve Alcairo announced the closing on Sept. 11 via the company's Facebook site.

Alcairo also told Fox News the breaking point happened earlier this year when San Francisco City Supervisor Mark Farrell proposed a new bill that would require gun shops in the city to record every sale on video and submit weekly reports of all ammunition sales to the local police department.

"This time, it's the idea of filming our customers taking delivery of items after they already completed waiting periods. We feel this is a tactic designed to discourage customers from coming to us."
Fox News also reported that past city regulations have required High Bridge Arms to remove any ads and displays from its windows and to install a number of cameras and safety barriers around the gun shop's perimeter. There are currently 17 cameras installed and Alcairo says video is turned over promptly to police upon request.

High Bridge Arms on Mission Street in San Francisco's Bernal Heights neighborhood announced plans to close Oct. 31, which will make it the first U.S. city without gun shops.

Despite the fact that California has the strictest gun control regulations of any state in the U.S., Farrell said in a recent statement that he is confident more could be done to improve gun safety and protect the public.

"Easy access to guns and ammunition continue to contribute to senseless violent crime here in San Francisco and across the country. 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."
According to Alcairo, the bill's introduction in July caused sales to slow in the city because customers assumed every purchase would be recorded and turned over to the police, causing High Bridge Arms to lay off three employees despite the fact that gun sales were soaring statewide.

The California Department of Justice reports that 931,000 guns were sold statewide last year, which is the second highest annual number since 1991 and is three times more than the number of guns that were sold in 2004. Also of note, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors reported that at least a dozen other local and city jurisdictions in California have adopted ordinances that require gun shops to maintain records of ammunition sales. Farrell says those jurisdictions have already "had great success" using the records to locate purchasers of ammunition that gets used in a crime, as well as to find individuals who illegally possess firearms.

"Other jurisdictions throughout the State with similar laws in place have made it more difficult for those to get access to guns and ammunition who are prohibited by law, and have made it easier for local enforcement to complete investigations and enhance public safety."
Still, Second Amendment supporters nationwide have expressed outrage at the announcement that High Bridge Arms will close, making San Francisco the first U.S. city that is completely without gun shops. California attorney Chuck Michel summed up much of the opposition when he told Fox News that politicians are "inappropriately" blaming licensed and inspected gun dealers – along with law abiding gun owners – for crimes committed by criminals who often obtain guns illegally.
"The City has imposed a crushing burden of redundant and pointless regulatory red-tape on firearm retailers, all in an effort to put them out of business. Now they have gotten their wish."
[Photos (top to bottom) by: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images; Joe Raedle /Getty Images; Scott Olson/Getty Images; Staff/Getty Images]