Gun shop remains after permit OK’d

The City’s lone gun shop dodged a bullet Wednesday.

Despite neighborhood objections, police gave conditional approval to renew a license for High Bridge Arms in the Mission district. The gun store will be allowed to continue operating after shutting down when its permit expired in February.

The business has been around for more than a half-century, but in recent years has been targeted by anti-gun activists in a city with a history of snubbing the Second Amendment. In 2005, voters approved a law that would ban handgun sales within city limits, an initiative that was later nullified by the courts.

Manager Steven Alcairo, who appeared at a permit hearing Wednesday with owner Andy Takahashi, pledged to increase security around the shop, which will now offer more retail than wholesale products.

“We can’t operate a successful business in an unsecured climate,” Alcairo said.

The approval came after more than an hour of public testimony at a permit hearing at police headquarters in which most speakers supported the gun shop. Two tenants above the store testified that they feel safer because police are frequent customers.

“I have, honestly, never felt so safe,” said John Felix Arnold III, a 30-year-old who lives above the shop.

But about 100 residents sent in letters opposing the gun shop because there were concerns that it would be a magnet for criminals and that firearms were not a necessity for the neighborhood.

The gun shop is an “anachronism” in the neighborhood, said Northwest Bernal Alliance member Jamie Ross. She said the neighborhood would be better served by businesses such as a dry cleaner or a coffee shop.

Sgt. Bill Coggan, who made the decision regarding the permit, called High Bridge Arms a well-run business, and said there was no evidence the shop attracted crime or that any weapons bought at the store were used in a crime.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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