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Questions for "basement/kitchen table" FFL's

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Monkeyleg, Jul 9, 2009.

  1. Monkeyleg

    Monkeyleg Well-Known Member

    I'm assuming there's at least a few THR members who have FFL's and sell out of their home offices.

    I'm curious as to how much of a headache you've found this to be. Is the insurance, record keeping, and other paperwork too burdensome, or are you comfortable with it?

    Any replies much appreciated.
  2. Lou McGopher

    Lou McGopher Well-Known Member

    Any who sell out of the back of a van, too?


    This is a good question. I've been wondering the same thing.
  3. danprkr

    danprkr Well-Known Member

    I'd be curious too if I had the time to start another business. :(
  4. waterhouse

    waterhouse Well-Known Member

    It's a slight headache, but not terrible.

    Volume has picked up lately, and the size of the 4473s has increased a few pages, which doesn't sound like much but it basically doubled the thickness. Required file space seems to be increasing exponentially.

    I had an ATF inspection last month. They were nice enough to call ahead of time, so I spent most of a day laying out all of the guns in "bound book" order so that they would be easy to go through. This sped up the inspection some, but it still took most of a day.

    You have to be very organized with your record keeping and attention to detail, but if you are naturally like that (I'm not a neat freak, but I'm sort of an organizational freak) it isn't too bad. The inspector made it sound like many home based FFLs do poorly on their inspections because, unlike a storefront where people see it as a real job, many home based dealers put paperwork and logging guns in and such on the back burner.

    The insurance isn't a huge hassle, I just got additional coverage for the inventory through the same bank I use for everything else, and I call them if there is a lot more inventory (or, in the case of the past 6 months, a lot less inventory) tohat needs to be covered.
  5. Monkeyleg

    Monkeyleg Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the reply, Waterhouse. As it turns out, it's unlikely I'd be able to get an FFL for purposes I was considering. My suburb has a in the home-based office zoning laws prohibiting firearms sales. I could try for a waiver, but I doubt I'd get it.

    Getting an office in a business district would be too costly, given the small volume I'd be doing.

    But, that's Wisconsin. I'm told the South is much more friendly to gun owners and dealers.
  6. waterhouse

    waterhouse Well-Known Member

    It can be similar here. Austin has the same rules and does not allow home based firearms businesses (at least this is what the ATF told me, I've never bothered to check.) Thankfully I'm outside the Austin city limits.
  7. KarenTOC

    KarenTOC Well-Known Member

    Same zoning issues where I live. My FFL does everything out of his house except the actual delivery of the gun to the customer. That's done, by appointment, at a relative's place of business. The relative allows him "office space," but my FFL tends to deliver evenings and weekends, and prefers not to unlock the building. He usually just does the paperwork in the parking lot. Wireless laptop, cell phone, and a clipboard are about all he needs.

    Maybe you could do something similar - find a gun-friendly businessman who would let you use a corner of his business for your FFL transfer. All you'd need is a card table and a chair - unless you just did the transfer in the parking lot.
  8. CCR

    CCR Well-Known Member

    Sounds to me like your FFL is pushing the limits of the law I am sure ATF would and should have a problem with this guy selling a gun in the dark in a parking lot. His FFL license is only good at the location printed on it or at a regulated gun show not the parking lot.

    It is FFL's that act like this that cause new tougher requirements on all FFL's
  9. dogtown tom

    dogtown tom Well-Known Member

    +1 to what CCR said except: that dealer is not just pushing the limits, he's waaaay across the line.

    Federal law (and ATF) is VERY clear on where a firearms dealer may conduct business:
    1. the licensed premises.
    2. a gun show

    Anyplace else is not allowed under Federal law.
  10. scottaschultz

    scottaschultz Well-Known Member

    I checked into this as well. The ATF will NOT issue an FFL if it is not legal to sell firearms at the address listed on the application and they will inspect the location prior to issuing the license. I found this out only after paying $50 for one of those FFL kits! I could have spend that money on ammunition... if I could find any!

  11. KarenTOC

    KarenTOC Well-Known Member

    If you say it's a bad idea, it's a bad idea. Not trying to suggest anyone cross any lines. Just relating what the FFL told me as to why we were meeting in a parking lot. He may have left out pertinant details. Sorry!
  12. iScream

    iScream Well-Known Member

    Sounds to me like the FFL place of business is the borrowed office space because zoning laws didn't allow it at home. How is doing the transaction in the parking lot, at the registered address, a problem?

  13. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm member

    Depends on what address is on the license. If the home address is on the license, that's the licensed premises. If the home address is listed as the mailing address (for ATF papers) and the office is listed as the premises, then it's fine but the business can only be conducted on the premises that are on the license listed as premises. I know of a FFL that got her license pulled because she'd drive to the customer's house and do the transfer there. ATF got wind of it and pulled the license immediately.

    Don't ever waste your money on those FFL kits. They charge you to tell you the exact information that is available on the ATF website.
  14. pharmer

    pharmer Well-Known Member

    Local zoning is what "disallowed" my 01 FFL in '95. Be aware that there are more BATmen today than when there were 275,000 FFL's(about 50,000 today), and they have nothing better to do than probe your orifices. Pay the extra few dollars and buy local. Joe
  15. iScream

    iScream Well-Known Member

    That makes sense. My guess would be that records are required to be on premise at the registered address as well, in case of inspection. Is that correct?

    The way I read the comment from KarenTOC was that the FFL had to get the license issued to the address of the borrowed office space and is going out of his way to follow the rules and only conduct transactions at the legal location.

  16. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm member

    The company's 06 FFL is located off premises from my home. The company's 07 FFL is home based. I'm looking for a space to combine both operations under one roof that isn't my home but it's not easy in my area.

    I started the business from home to save money and try my hand at it. It was a part time gig and did alright. Now I'm cramped in the ammo warehouse and my home office is cramped as well. I have too much going on to stay organized in the space I have so I need to get out of both places and find a building that will suit my needs and leave a bit of room to grow.

    If you are just going to do transfers and special orders, home based is fine. If you are going to be a stocking dealer, I suggest a retail location. Doesn't have to be a storefront, just a pole building and a people door.

    Things I do not like about the gun FFL (not the ammo FFL) at my home:

    *Too easy to mix work and personal.
    *Makes for long hours doing work at home.
    *Entire home is open to ATF inspection.
    *Shipping and receiving isn't streamlined.
    *Too tempting to get lax with paperwork (ie guns arrive just while supper is being done, easy to put it off, then you're too tired, etc)
    *Distractions effect work. Especially with small children. Hard to interact with a customer while watching a 3yo.
    *Like it or not, home based businesses don't convey a professional image these days. Even a separate, detached building 100 feet from the home, etc. Lots of home based businesses out there and I was one of the "hey that's not fair" crowd, but now I get it.

    If you can get an FFL at home, get it, do some business for a year or so, then get a retail building when revenue allows. Rent first, never buy.

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