San Francisco Supervisors Approve Video Recording of Gun Sales

Legislation requiring store surveillance passes City Council as SF's last gun shop prepares to close for good

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved an ordinance requiring firearms dealers to videotape all gun and ammunition sales and share data on ammo sales with the San Francisco police department.

The proposal unanimously approved by the board Tuesday requires firearms dealers in San Francisco to install surveillance equipment in order to record sales that could later be used in criminal investigations. The ordinance requires a second board vote, which is expected.

Currently, city law requires ammunition sale records only for those who buy it in large quantities.

The proposed legislation drove the city's only gun shop — High Bridge Arms — to announce in September that it would close for good rather than subject customers to any surveillance requirements.

(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));

Dear friends and family, it's with tremendous sadness and regret that I have to announce we are closing our shop. For...

Posted by Highbridge Arms on Friday, September 11, 2015

"We're getting phone calls: 'So if I buy a box of bullets from you, are you going to report us to the police department?' the store's general manager, Steven Alcairo, told NPR.

Under the ordinance, vendors would be required to submit a weekly report to police on ammunition sales, including the type and amount of ammunition bought and information identifying the buyer. The provision applies to vendors who sell in San Francisco, or deliver to addresses in San Francisco.

"Easy access to firearms continues to be a contributing factor to senseless violence, not only in San Francisco but across the country," San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell, who introduced the ordinance, said at an earlier meeting. "There continues to be more we can do."

According to information from city officials, 2,928 people died from firearm-related injuries in California in 2011, and 2,884 other people were hospitalized for non-fatal gunshot wounds. In 2011, 1,356 homicides were committed with firearms in California.

Chicago officials approved a similar requirement last year.

The owners of High Bridge Arms announced they were closing in a Facebook post on Sept. 11.

"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," the post said. "We will clearance out whatever inventory we have in the shop and offer sale prices for anything you would like us to order. This is not a joke."

The store’s owner did not return requests for comment. The store's purchasing manager, Jonathan Lopez, tells NBC Bay Area regulations by local and state are a burden, but the owner’s decision was based on several factors. "He just wants to retire," Lopez said. "You know, he’s kind of done."

Lopez said the store will shut its doors at the end of this week.

Alcairo told NPR that these days the store's best-selling item is not a firearm or ammo, it's a souvenir T-shirts that say "San Francisco's Last Gun Store."

The store has been at its 3185 Mission Street location since the mid-1950s, when Olympic shooter and gunsmith Bob Chow opened the shop, the High Bridge Arms website says.

Andy Takahashi bought the business from Chow In 1988, and began exporting firearms in 1993. The site says that the store exports firearms to several countries.

High Bridge Arms has a 4.5 star-rating on Yelp, with many customers giving it a favorable review.

However, the store's farewell post on Facebook warned: "For any of you Vultures, (you know who you are) please don't bother us. For if you do, I give you my solemn promise that we will make it a very unpleasant experience for you. For all our true friends and followers, I would like to sincerely thank you for all your support, likes, positive feedback and best of all, your friendship. Hopefully, we'll see you soon. It has been a long and difficult ride, but a great pleasure to be your last San Francisco Gun shop."

The news has upset the store's regular customers, including Chris Chen, who runs the blog Top Shot Chris.

"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," Chen wrote. "While there has been no official comment from High Bridge 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."

NBC Bay Area's Mark Matthews and the Associated Press contributed information included in this report.

Contact Us