SF's only gun store granted permit to reopen


It was no showdown at the OK Corral, but there was a clear victor at Wednesday's police permit hearing. High Bridge Arms, the only gun shop in San Francisco, will be allowed to resume operations.

"I have no evidence that its existence has caused an increase in crime or that firearms sold there were used to commit crimes," permit hearing officer Sgt. Bill Coggan said.

High Bridge Arms has been a fixture on Mission Street for more than 50 years. Recently, the owner applied to turn it into a wholesale gun operation, but city planning code required a primarily retail use. Some neighbors were hoping to take advantage of the bureaucratic back and forth to shut the gun store down.

"No one wants to stop anyone from selling guns, we just think it's inappropriate in a residential area," North Bernal Alliance member Jaime Ross said.

Ross organized neighborhood groups which sent more than 100 e-mails to the police department. But Wednesday, supporters of the gun shop outnumbered opponents two to one.

People need guns for home defense, without guns were all just sitting ducks," gun store supporter Tom Turner said.

Amanda Johnson hopes High Bridge Arms will offer gun safety classes.

"Maybe women's night; ladies bring your guns," she said.

The permit granted Wednesday is conditional; meaning owner Andy Takahashi must first meet certain requirements. He must devise a plan to store all the guns in a safe at the end of each day, operate a camera surveillance system inside and out, 24-7 and agree to check the identification of every customer at the front door before they enter the store.

The manager says that will quickly be done.

"Every action I take is subject to oversight of several agencies and I don't take my business responsibility lightly," Steve Alcairo said.

Opponents say they may consider an appeal. The neighborhood groups will get together to decide.

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