Re-opening of SF's only gun store stirs debate

September 7, 2010 7:06:57 PM PDT
A battle over a gun shop is really heating up in San Francisco. But it is not the average standoff over gun rights and the Second Amendment -- even the owner is reluctant to open the store.

Andy Takahashi is perplexed. The city says he cannot set up an office for his wholesale gun business unless he re-opens the High Bridge Arms gun shop. The Planning Commission says his building is zoned only for retail.

"Very strange to me; it's my building, you know," Takahashi said.

Takahashi closed San Francisco's only gun shop late last year after more than 50 years in the same location in the Mission District.

"I do export-import," he said. "If I don't open retail shop, I'm going to lose export-import license."

So reluctantly, he has applied for a permit to open it again so he can legally set up his wholesale office in the back room.

Now, Takahashi faces a fight he really does not want to take on.

"It's running about five to one that the community wants to deny the permit," SFPD Ingleside Station Capt. Louis Cassanego said.

The Northwest Bernal Alliance opposes the permit, but not for Second Amendment reasons.

"We would like to see something in the storefront that supports the neighborhood, like dry cleaners, a coffee shop, those kinds of things," alliance member Jamie Ross said.

Others object because they say a gun store brings in the wrong elements, a concept not everyone understands.

David Pinch runs a coffee shop across the street.

"It brings police to the neighborhood; that's their main shoppers," he said. "It's the police, how is that causing more crime?"

Cassanego says he supports the gun shop's permit, but only if it has good security systems.

Store manager Steve Alcairo says that is not a problem.

"We're going to do everything in our power to make sure that we do not get ammunition or firearms into the wrong hands," he said.

The showdown will continue Wednesday at the Planning Commission meeting.


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