Pressured Out of Business: From Gun Stores to Health Clinics

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In my November 2nd blog post, I wrote about how Texas is attempting to defund Planned Parenthood in response to a number of videos by an anti-abortion group. While officials cite the alleged legal violations in the videos as justification, the actual result is a reduction in women’s health care that leaves many women unable to access a number of services without traveling long distances.

Another story outside of the state features noticeable parallels, but from the opposite end of the political spectrum. In San Francisco, the last remaining gun shop in the city, High Bridge Arms, was pressured out of business by burdensome regulations in the name of public safety. This time, instead of ultrasounds, waiting periods, and other forms of legally mandated shaming, San Francisco required gun stores to record firearms sales on video and give the city police weekly updates on ammunition sales. Due to the shop’s concerns about the city invading the privacy of customers, High Bridge Arms closed at the end of October. General manager Steven Alcairo was quoted as saying, “Just the idea of giving that information willingly to the police department, for no real reason, seemed very unreasonable to me.” He also stated that the shop complied with all state and federal reporting requirements.

But perhaps unlike Texas, the sponsor of the law, Supervisor Mark Farrell, wasn’t coy about his intent on shutting down the last remaining gun store, in contrast to Texas politicians who attempt to hide behind the rationale of public safety. “From my perspective, if the last gun store in San Francisco wants to close its doors because of my legislation, so be it,” he said. “This store sold over 1,000 guns each year. I would much rather have a preschool or coffee store in the neighborhood than a gun shop.” Looking at the shop from the outside, it doesn’t seem like an opportune location for a preschool, and I doubt there’s a shortage of coffee shops in San Francisco either.

High Bridge Arms, a San Francisco gun shop opened by Olympic pistol shooter Bob Chow in 1952, closed its doors in October, leaving the city with no gun shops.

High Bridge Arms, a San Francisco gun shop opened by Olympic pistol shooter Bob Chow in 1952, closed its doors in October, leaving the city with no gun shops.

These two stories illustrate the consequences of government disallowing citizens from purchasing the goods and services of their choice. For all the talk of “preserving the life of the unborn” or “reducing violent crime,” neither Texas nor California will accomplish these goals through the State. Instead, abortion can be reduced by increased access to family planning services that Planned Parenthood and other providers offer. Gun violence can be reduced by increased economic opportunity for the lower class and reducing reincarceration rates, among other things. But neither require the State to intervene, and indeed benefit from its absence.

Holding consistent beliefs about personal liberties will end the tensions perpetuated by the two-party system. One of the comments in the San Francisco gun shop article linked above remarked that “You won’t hear these guys whining about Planned Parenthood Clinics being run out of business” and “they bitch about a woman’s right to choose, but a man’s (or woman’s) right to own a killing machine like an AK 47 is a ‘right’ that must be protected. Really?” This is a common line of thought among many on the left, who believe that those who oppose gun control also oppose a woman’s right to choose. Instead, it is fully possible to support freedom in both instances. This is an important point for both major political parties, as Republicans can appeal to women and Democrats to gun owners who vote for the other party because of these issues.

Before its closing, High Bridge Arms featured a Texas flag above the cash register. Let’s hold our politicians here in Texas accountable, so that Planned Parenthood won’t have California flags in their clinics.

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