Gun control advocates and left leaning politicians are celebrating as the only (legal) gun store in all of San Francisco has been forced out of business over a set of new regulations.
What is High Bridge Arms?
Born in 1911, F. Robert Chow, popularly just known as Bob Chow, was a Navy veteran who served prior to and during World War II, raising through the ranks to become a Chief. An accomplished competitive shooter who picked up at least 37 championships in his career, he qualified for a place on the 1948 U.S. Olympic Team in London.
In 1952, he set up shop at 3185 Mission Street in San Francisco and, as a custom 1911 gunsmith of some renown, pioneered many "carry gun" features we see standard in combat pistols today. Operating his gun shop with the public motto of "Accuracy is our aim" he gave lessons and was even credited with helping a number of Hollywood stars of the 50s and 60s develop believable shooting skills for film roles.
In the 1980s, Bob retired and sold the shop to Andy Takahashi, but High Bridge kept trucking on in Bob's memory, selling on average about 1,000 (legal) guns to law-abiding approved buyers every year.
Enter Mark Farrell
The San Francisco City Council this year took up a proposed ordinance of Supervisor Mark Farrell's that aimed to do a lot of things to (legal) gun shops in the city. Besides the host of federal ATF regulations, state, county and city business codes and the like, Farrell wanted all transactions videotaped, allow inspections by the SFPD, and require the shops collect and transmit information on all gun and ammo sales to the city.
The information collected had to include:
(1) The date of the transaction;
(2) The name, address and date of birth of the transferee;
(3) The number of the transferee's current driver's license or other government issued identification card containing a photograph of the transferee, and the name of the governmental authority that issued it;
(4) The brand, type, caliber or gauge, and amount of ammunition transferred;
(5) The transferee's signature; and
(6) The name of the permittee's agent or employee who processed the transaction.
The end is nigh
As High Bridge was the only store affected by the rules-- since its the sole (legal) gunshop in the city of 800,000-- the new rules were aimed directly at them. Unwilling to hand over information on its customers, Andy shut the door.
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. We will clearance out what ever inventory we have in the shop and offer sale prices for anything you would like us to order. This is not a joke. 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. Our warm regards, High Bridge Arms.
When advised High Bridge was going down the tubes and the city would perhaps be the largest in the country without a single (legal) gun shop, Supervisor Farrell was nonplussed.
"We should be unapologetic about prioritizing the public safety of our residents first," said Farrell. "If the last remaining gun store chooses to shut down as a result of my legislation, so be it - I would much rather see a preschool, coffee shop or other neighborhood serving business that contributes to the vitality of our City in its place."
Farrell then went on CNN and spoke for three minutes about how closing gun stores will stop mass shootings such as Sandy Hook and others. He compared the legislation to similar measures in Chicago-- that had the same effect of running all of the gun stores out of that city-- which is now a leader in gun crime. He closed with a comparison to urban cities where in his mind, guns should be restricted, over rural areas "like Alaska" where guns are needed for hunting.
Because Washington crossed the Delaware to get to a duck blind, right?
In the end
Sure, would-be legal gun buyers in the Bay Area just have to leave the city limits (nearby Daly City has a number of big and small gun shops) and seek out a suburban retailer to purchase a firearm, which in the end just means an hour or so trip from even the center of rice-a-roni ville, but to be sure this adds yet another inconvenience to lawful firearms ownership.
"Look who is shopping here. Do you see any criminals? Those guys, they don't shop here. If anything, he's just inconveniencing people," Jonathan Lopez, 26, a former Marine and High Bridge employee told the San Fransisco Examiner. "They are just going to drive a little further and buy the exact same thing."
Illegal gun dealers in San Fran, however, are likely to continue business as usual while the availability of stolen firearms from unattended police vehicles to the criminal element in the Bay area remains unchecked.