The City’s Only Gun Shop Fights to Reopen

En Español

As city authorities prepare today to consider the request of High Bridge Arms to be allowed to sell guns at retail in San Francisco, the Mission District has become ground zero for the larger issues surrounding gun control, raising questions about the right to sell guns, the impact of gun sales on violence, and in particular the impact of gun sales in a neighborhood with a history of violence.

“The Supreme Court gave the people that fundamental right to go buy a gun,” said Chuck Michel, a civil rights attorney for National Rifle Association and the California Rifle and Pistol Association.

The wholesale gun outlet has operated at Mission and Powers since 1988, and now wants to sell retail. The opposition, Michel said, is just “ridiculous,” and he’s offered his legal services free of charge.

The permit hearing is set for 1 p.m. today at the San Francisco Police Department Permit Station on 850 Bryant Street.

Steve Alcairo, the store’s manager, said that he has taken Michel’s offer into consideration but at this point doesn’t feel that the store is being treated unfairly. People have their concerns about the store and they have a right to voice them, he said. Moreover, he remained confident that the community will support him once they hear him out.

The organization Northwest Bernal Alliance sent out a mass e-mail asking its members to e-mail the San Francisco Police Department Permit Office to protest the gun shop. “We’ve been successful in causing delays in the permit process by forcing the owner to comply with the SF Planning Code but the hearing is slated for Sept 8th and we believe unless there is a great outcry from the neighborhood, the permit will be granted and once again we’ll be home to the ONLY GUN STORE IN ALL OF SAN FRANCISCO,” the e-mail read.

The San Francisco Police Department’s crime-tracking service reported 240 gun-related crimes in the Mission within the last three months.

High Bridge Arms’ owner, Andy Tamakashi, bought the store in 1988 and put the current storefront on Mission and Powers. Earlier this year he decided to shut down because it was “too much work and [I] wanted to convert the storefront into an office building.”

Alcairo said that Tamakashi had a change of heart, even though gun sales is a hard business to be in. “This is all he knows,” said Alcairo. To reopen the store, Tamakashi decided to renovate. This area is a retail zone, and Tamakashi had to get a permit to be allowed to sell guns again.

Nearby business owners have mixed feelings. Parawarti Roy, owner of the Copy Center next door, said, “I am totally against it. I don’t even know what to do. Before they only to supplied to the police, I did not feel threatened, but now anyone who wants a gun could go and buy one.”

Roy, who has lived in the area for 22 years, said she doesn’t feel comfortable having a gun shop so close. “We don’t need guns for safety. If someone wants to buy a gun, then they can go buy them at the gun expos.”

Alcairo noted that to buy a gun, a customer must go through a rigorous process that includes a background check, a test and a fingerprint check with the U.S. Department of Justice. “We are the most regulated business. We answer to three agencies: the San Francisco Police Department, the [federal] Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the California Department of Justice.

“If someone wants to have a gun, then they have the fundamental right to have one. The same blanket that grants them the right to speak their mind, the First Amendment, gives us the right to be in business with the Second Amendment.”

Kim Njuyen, who works at the Queen’s Nails, a neighboring nail salon, said High Bridge Arms had been there a long time. Her coworkers nodded in agreement. “A long time, so it is no problem,” she said.

Mission Precinct’s acting commander, Lieutenant David Smith, said that because the gun shop’s orders would be by appointment only, “the presence of the store is not a problem.”

Filed under: Front Page, Trouble

17 Comments

  1. Mark

    I would suggest to Parawarti Roy that part of the cost of living in a free society is that people get to do things that you do not approve of.
    I would also suggest that what she feels is irrelevent. She was issued a brain at birth, she should use it to do the research and make a reason argument, instead of, “I feel X.”

  2. Stu Strickler

    “We don’t need guns for safety”. What rock has this person been under their entire life?
    You are responsible for your own safety. Owning and carrying a firearm provides that safety. Firearms are increasing important in this age of reduced Police budgets. Police can not everywhere to protect you and the United States Supreme Court has ruled that they are not obligated to protect you. The Supreme Court has also ruled that individual ownership of firearms is an individual right. Firearms do not cause crime. Some people are so brain washed that they cannot understand this!

  3. JD

    Whoever the idiot was that said, you dont need a gun for safety, maybe for her but not me I have a CCW and carry a Glock 27 everyday , that is my assurance of safety in this crime filled society. Nuff Said

  4. kdoucette

    “We don’t need guns for safety.” In a neighborhood with 240 firearm related crimes in THREE MONTHS?

    Just remember: “When seconds count, the police are just minutes away!”

  5. Douglas Crute

    I use to go to this Shop when it was known as Bill Fong’s Gun shop and Markels and the San Francisco Gun Exchange I cannot believed this is the only gun shop left I wish the owner luck

  6. Jeremy

    “We don’t need guns for safety”

    Until the day when a police officer is assigned to live in my closet, or I can carry around an officer in my pocket, firearms have a huge place in personal safety. In the 5+ minutes it would take police to get to my home (which is NOT a complaint, they do the best they possibly can) it could be 4 minutes too late.

    Even the California State Constitution states, right in Section 1, the following: “All people are by nature free and independent and have
    inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and DEFENDING LIFE and
    liberty, acquiring, possessing, and PROTECTING PROPERTY, and pursuing
    and OBTAINING SAFETY, happiness, and privacy.” (the caps are my own)

  7. Daniel B.

    I just wanted to stand in agreement with the two comments above. And I also want to comment on the person that said we do not need guns for safety. It struck such a funny chord in me and expecially after she said that she said “if they want a gun they can go and buy one at a Gun Expo”. So to sum up what she said is “I do not want people buying guns next door to me’. At least that is what I got out of it.

    I believe that this person that wants to re-open his gunstore should be granted his permit under our constitution. And for those that think the freedom to bear arms is only for military and national guard. Well I disagree. For the way it opens for freedom of speach, freedom of religion is no different in which it opens its ammendment to keep and bear arms. (For the people)it does not say (for the armies)Maybe try and read it sometimes. It shall not inhibit the “peoples” right to keep and bear arms. The anti gunners can argue all they want but if they come away thinking it states this only for military or national guard well they just come away with it all wrong. Theyh need to mix a little history with the understanding of the words “for the people” but no they do not have time for that all they have time for is to formulate lies so they can win their next election. The formulate these lies for the ignorant and unfortuantly it works all to well. They know that there are a lot of people out there that buy into sentiment instead of truth.

    Daniel

  8. Tory II

    Well, everyone one of you loudmouthed posters have at one time or another used the excuse of SAFETY to want the govt (my worst enemy) to prohibit something or to do something immoral, illegal, or unconstitutional. And that’s the reason why the SanFrancisco nazi govt gets to determine if the city has a gun shop.

    Make govt your servant, not your master.

  9. Jimbo96

    Criminals don’t care about laws because they are by definition law breakers already. A firearm saved my life when I was attacked by 4, clubbed in the head with club, stabbed twice in chest and the only reason I am alive is that I shot and killed one of my attackers. Those who are against firearms have probably never been the victim of a violent crime, and don’t have any idea what it means to be able to save your life only because you were armed and used it. The police showed up in 4 minutes but I would have been dead by then. Spent 4 hours in operating room and was lucky to live. So to all you who think you know better, you don’t! Freedom means taking responsibility for your own safety, and the Second Amendment gives us the RIGHT, which is something that doesn’t come from any government, but we have before it, and government has no ability to abrogate that right unless you are a convicted felon.

  10. “If guns cause crime, then all of mine are defective.” Ted Nugent

  11. Joe Law

    “I carry a gun because is cop is too heavy….”

  12. Big D

    Sadly, alot of states use California as a role model for their laws and such. If this gun shop is closed down, I fear worse things will begin to happen. Anti-gun lobbyists are already pushing their agendas hard trying to ban guns wherever they can. These people dont care about you or anyone else. Their #1 priority is money and they’ll throw whoever they have to under the bus to fatten their wallets.

  13. Freedom Lover in Texas!!!

    In the words of William Wallace – “FREEEEEEEEDOOOOM”. These people in SF are sick. When the next big earthquake occurs and their 911 dose not work, I will laugh. In Texas, we do not dial 911, we dial 9mm!!!

  14. JBCA

    Jeremy… one more thing re CA Constitution. I believe Article I states that “California recognizes the Law of The Land” as the main law referring to the US Constitution, which means it is SUBORDINATING itself to the US Constitution, yet, why is it that most CA politicians (the Democrat majority such as Feinstein, Boxer, Barbara Lee, Pelosi, etc) completely ignore these rights for the citizens of CA and, by consequence, violating the constitutional rights? Because for them (all non-democrat citizens and of this state) we are second class citizens and until we wake up and vote them out they will continue to violate all kinds of rights, not only the 2A right.

  15. comdude

    I wish them people all the luck in the world getting their permit back. Seems quite possible. Then they can sell them to their neighboring business owners to keep under the counter. win-win

  16. Willi

    “If guns cause crime, then all of mine are defective.” Ted Nugent

    Must of been before he was busted for illegal killing of wildlife in California.

  17. Douglas Crute

    I goofed It was called Bob Chow’s

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