Need FFL advise
Hi boys and girls. This is my first post here so please bear with me..
I am seriously thinking about trying to break into firearm sales and am wanting to file for my FFL and actually have the application in hand ready to be filled out. However, a gun shop owner has informed me that doing so without a storefront is pretty much a waste of time and that the ATF will deny it. I am wanting to eventually open a gun shop in south Alabama but wanted to get my feet wet through online sales and transfers first. Can anyone advise me on this please? Also any advice on filling out the application would be appreciated as well.
The first place to go is the local zoning office to see if such a business can be run where you want.
Then Business license (and liability insurance).
Got the building secured? Yea, that is needed, too.
Now go to the BATF website. They have a good FAQ section on how to apply for your license. One part is asking your store hours if you are not into gunsmithing.
The best source for answers is the BATF itself. They have agents all over and can assist you. Getting advice from the internet is worth just as much as you pay for.
There is one way to get a small pile of money from the firearms business. Start with a large pile of money.
Its not a waste of time. The advice given to you above is good. Zoning is the one thing that stops more FFL businesses from starting up than anything else.
Currently its pretty difficult. Firearms themselves do not bring a lot of profit. Ammo used to be better, obviously not so much now. I am currently home based and working on getting a storefront built.
Read everything you can on ATF.gov, when you get done i assure you, you will still have questions. That is where there IOI comes in. The ATF folks are almost always very easy to deal with and very nice. They will answer any questions you have then and it will be from the horses mouth.
I have my FFL and am home based. Like others said ZONING is the largest obstacle. I have found that also another item is the wholesale places would rather deal with storefronts rather than homebased. Not all of them, but quite a few. Hardest thing for me is getting ammo. Another issue is storefront can get items reduced even more, thru programs so they place an ad for a pistol for 10 more than you are paying for it. Best of luck to you.
Zoning in many cities won't let you run a business out of your home. Some will let you run a small business that has no customers at the premises, such as an internet sales business. Find your zoning, find the rules and, if need be, plan on renting a location.
The second part of a FFL location is security for the weapons. Alarms, safes, locks, etc. are going to be required. Insurance is smart.
The third part is that you have to be a business. Ordering a few guns a year for your friends won't cut it. You have to intend to make a profit.
And the last is record keeping. Lord knows there's a ton of it. :)
Start at the BATFE web site.
Thanks for your input guys.
I would be basing the business in a small rural community in south Alabama and the zoning shouldn't be an issue due to the property being outside of any local city limits and it is also surrounded by a couple hundred acres of farmland so pissing off the neighbors shouldn't be a problem either. :^p
The business part I plan to tend to as soon as I get the chance. Being a tower crane operator and working away from home all the time limits the time I have to do all I need to do in any sort of timely fashion, but now that I have a little more info (thanks to you and the ATF site) I am developing a better game plan.
Thank you all again for the input.
Email, write, or call the BATF about your concerns and what the feasability is of doing what you want to do. I few years ago I had a lengthy conversation with one of the agents via telephone and I was assured that there wouldn't be any problem with a home based FFL license as long as I was zoned properly and passed the legal requirements. (license, background check, zoning etc.) It's likely that you will fill out the form properly, but if you have any doubt, there a few sites which offer advice and "guarantees" that you will get your FFL. I did not follow through with mine however, but It's always a possibility for me.
I just went through what you are wanting to do. I am currently home based and outside the city limits. So I am in an area with no zoning. What I had to provide was documentation from my county stating that I was in an area with no restrictions. That was the hardest part of my gathering needed documentation. The county itself provided me with a DBA (doing business as) but they couldn't/wouldn't help with the zoning documentation. Of course the surrounding cities also couldn't help. I finally got my county commissioner to provide me a letter with the county letterhead stating my address was not zoned and there were no restrictions. I sent copies of all the required documents along with my FFL app and included copies of these as well: my DBA from the county; the letter from the county commissioner; my state sales tax permit. I also put together a folder with copies of everything for the ATF agent to have for the inspection. I also printed copies of regulations, guidelines, etc that can be found on the ATF site and put them in binders. I studied those and highlighted important items. These were also on display for the agent to see. The agent scheduled a visit about 2 weeks after they accepted and cashed my application fee and then in about another 2 weeks I received my FFL. Then I filled out my NICS application and faxed it in and was approved within an hour.
Do not believe folks who tell you that you have to have a storefront to get your FFL.
Finding distributors that will work with home based is tougher but still doable. My goal is to have a storefront in a month or so and am in the process of doing that.
I got a 07 and SOT 2 at my house. That gunshop owner is just trying to discourage you. A lot of successful businesses start at the house. However my advice would be to incorporate in your state. That means do not go sole proprietor, just form a corporation to protect your personal liabilities. Get a SBA loan or grant when you are ready.
As for distributors, a lot will work with you even if you are a home based business. As for myself I lease a warehouse for receiving commercial shipments, and storing inventory.
Get your business licenses first, and make sure you can get a retail business license out of your home. Don't even try getting an FFL without getting the license to make sure there is no issues.
2nd Fill out and send your FFL application form.
Wait 60-90 days for the app to reach the FFLC. (Mine took about 3 months for a 07 FFL)
From there a IOI will call you to setup a meeting at your home. (I had 2 ATF task force agents instead due to my location)
IOI will basically go through a list of regulations, and check if your zoning and licenses are good. IOI will then mail a review to the FFLC for approval.
Wait 2-6 weeks and your FFL is here!
What would deny you for a homebased FFL?
1) You live in an apartment, or the owner of the home declines to have the business at their property.
2) Zoning doesnt allow a retail front in your store
3) You lied on your application
4) If you are just doing this for personal gain
5) Any state or local laws that prohibit such businesses.
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