As of October 31, 2015, San Francisco will sport a grand total of ZERO gun stores. No, that wasn't a typo.
On September 11, 2015, High Bridge Arms - the last remaining gun shop open in San Francisco - announced via Facebook that they would be closing their doors for good. Why, you ask? Because they don't want to comply with newly proposed regulations by the city to monitor and control gun ownership. Local politicians, in an effort to protect their city and its citizens, are proposing a new law that would require any gun shop to video record every gun sale and submit a weekly report of ammunition sales. High Bridge Arms considered this a personal attack since they are the only gun shop left.
"I'm not doing that to our customers. Enough is enough," said Steve Alcairo, the store manager. "Buying a gun is a constitutionally protected right. Our customers shouldn't be treated like they're doing something wrong."
However, the proposed bill will not even be voted upon for months, at least. City Supervisor Mark Ferrell said that he proposed the bill to help police "combat violent crime in the city." He also stated that the gun shop was "comical" for blaming their closing on his proposal, especially considering that the store's sales have slumped so badly over the summer.
Alcairo rebutted, saying that while he did have to lay off three clerks because of sliding sales, it was all a result of the bill being proposed and publicized back in July. He said that customers started calling and coming in, concerned that their purchases were being recorded and turned over to the police. Alcairo said that he and the store's owner finally grew weary of the "continued opposition and mountains of paperwork" that they were expected to turn in to the various authorities, including the San Francisco Police Department, the California Department of Justice, and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
While this excuse may seem plausible, the resulting slump at High Bridge Arms is actually shocking if you take a hard look at gun sales in California. The California Department of Justice reported 931,000 guns sold last year. That is three times the number sold in 2004. It's also the second highest annual number since the department began keeping sales records in 1991. (Keep in mind: those are only the numbers for legal requisitions.)
If the state's residents are buying MORE guns, then why is this one shop failing? Is it a result of the city's atmosphere?
High Bridge Arms was opened in 1952. The original owner was a champion shooter named Bob Chow. He decided to open the store four years after returning home from the London Olympics. Chow owned the store until 1988. The store has long been seen as a quirky city fixture and has attracted athletes and enthusiasts from around the world. You can even buy a t-shirt with the shop's logo and the boasting claim of being the last gun store in San Francisco.
Alcairo is angry and confused. Why would the city's citizens not want to fight harder to keep the last remaining gun store in business?
"This is the city that defended gay marriage and fights for unpopular causes like medical marijuana," he said. "Where's my support?"