San Francisco Is Winning Its Gun War As Last Gun Shop Closes

San Francisco has some good gun news for the country at a time when good news is badly needed. The last gun shop in the city is closing its door in the face of proposed city action to further regulate sales.

San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell is trying to pass a law mandating that all commercial gun sales must be videotaped. In addition, the legislation would require the store to report ammunition sales to the police on a weekly basis.

Since the legislation hasn’t passed yet, Farrell finds it hard to believe that it is the reason the Highbridge Arms store is closing. Nevertheless, he said:

“The entire purpose is to promote the public safety of our San Francisco residents in our neighborhoods that are feeling incredibly vulnerable right now in terms of public safety and their own personal safety.”

The city has diligently worked toward that goal since two events set it on edge regarding the lack of gun safety. One was the shooting deaths of City Supervisor and gay rights activist Harvey Milk, as well as Mayor George Moscone, in 1978. The other was a mass murder in a downtown high-rise in 1993.

For years, the National Rifle Association has fought moves by the city to limit gun sales. In a court battle in 2014, San Francisco won the right to ban the possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines. In June, SCOTUS allowed the city to ban bullets that splinter or expand on contact. But in 2005, it lost the struggle to ban virtually all handguns.

Aside from city government opposition, however, the Highbridge Arms faces the disapproval of its neighbors. The store is located in the Bernal Heights neighborhood which, like much of the rest of San Francisco, is gentrifying. Many residents feel it is out-of-place there, with one neighborhood group asserting that its presence makes the area more dangerous.

When general manager Steven Alcairo announced that the shop would close its doors on October 31st, he said the proposed law to videotape sales was “just too much,” on top of other regulations and mounting paperwork. He told the AP:

“I’m not doing that to our customers. Enough is enough. Buying a gun is a constitutionally protected right. Our customers shouldn’t be treated like they’re doing something wrong.”

(which is a quote all progressive writers should save for their next anti-anti-choice articles).

Alcairo also expressed disappointment in the city:

“This is the city that defended gay marriage and fights for unpopular causes like medical marijuana. Where’s my support?”

Gay marriage and medical marijuana don’t kill. But it’s an excellent point that San Francisco often leads the way for the rest of the country on issues that no one, at the time, believed would become national phenomena. A recent example is the city’s move in 2008 to ban cigarette sales in pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS — and, later, grocery and big box stores as well.

San Francisco prevailed against lawsuits brought by national retailers. Then, last year, CVS pharmacies announced the removal of all tobacco products from its stores nationwide.

So there is hope that the tide can be turned on gun sales in this country, in spite of all the naysayers. Think how many people once clung to their cigarettes, claiming it was their ‘right’ to pollute the air for others and to kill with their second-hand smoke. And yet, public smoking has virtually disappeared.

Guns are no different. They aren’t just for the ‘enjoyment’ of the person who buys them. They pollute the atmosphere just as surely as cigarette smoke does, but are far more deadly and fast-acting.

If San Francisco can win this struggle against death-by-metal, so can other localities. It takes steadfastness and determination. But the City-On-the-Hill just lit up like a beacon, showing us the way.

Feature photo via Highbridge Arms Facebook page.

Deborah Montesano is a writer and political activist, who has just been freed from decades of wandering in the Arizona desert. She is now stunned to find herself actually living in progressive heaven — Portland, Oregon. READ MORE BY DEBORAH.