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Old August 30, 2014, 10:17 AM   #1
Bibbyman
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Gunsmithing as part-business

Many years ago I did a lot of part time gunsmithing. I started by working on my own guns but soon buddies would bring me their guns to fix. It kept escalating until I was doing a lot of stock work, drilling and tapping, glass beding, general repairs. I obtained an FFL and charged for my services. For about 10 years, no problem. Then new regulations were always being issued - designed to drive people out of business. I let my FFL go when the BATF started breaking in doors and shooting people.

Now that I'm near retirement and getting involved in CAS, I'm back doing my own gunsmithing again. Time will tell if I start working on guns for others.

How much aggravation is it to manage an FFL? Are the regulations on a home base, part time business too convoluted to mess with? Are you just setting yoursef up for harassment by the BATF?
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Old August 30, 2014, 01:19 PM   #2
AirForceShooter
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The era of home FFL's is over.

But, do you need an FFL to do smithing?

AFS
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Old August 30, 2014, 01:46 PM   #3
rcmodel
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Yes.
https://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/gun...nse-activities

You also need liability insurance out the wazzo too., IMO.

rc
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Old August 30, 2014, 02:52 PM   #4
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Bottom line - You don't want to end up with nothing due to a lawsuit or federal charges for operating a gun smithing business without a license. Get the license. Get insurance through the NRA. Locate your business away from your home. Set it up in a separate building even if it is on your property. Lease the building to the business.

A recent thread covered the insurance issue - http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=759386
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Old August 30, 2014, 03:00 PM   #5
newfalguy101
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AirForceShooter View Post
The era of home FFL's is over.

According to whom???

But, do you need an FFL to do smithing?

Absolutely!!

AFS
The trick is deciding which license to get, more than if you need one.

I have an 01 and do NO smithing, so have no experience on that part of the business, however, the record keeping requirements are not horribly difficult as far as the ATF, the business record keeping , in my experience is way worse than what ATF requires.

Check with your local zoning board or whatever they call it there about whether or not you can even legally run a gunsmithing business out of your home/shop/garage in your neighborhood
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Old August 30, 2014, 03:54 PM   #6
Bibbyman
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Thanks guys, I've lately talked with a guy that runs a local gunshop. He gave a pretty discouraging account of the pressure the ATF had been putting on gun dealers. He use to make minor repairs, mount scopes, etc but apparently doesn't do it any longer. He has a guy that runs a gunsmith shop come in a pick up guns that need repear. A pawn shop up the street had its FFL pulled. The owner said they wrote him up for having a gun not in his books. He explained he'd just gotten it in and hadn't got it in the books yet. He was just going to get a warning but put up an argument that things were said that shouldn't have so they revoked his license.

Even 20 years ago they wanted FFL holders working out of their home to have all their activities in one area separate from living area and with its own entrance.
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Old August 30, 2014, 10:29 PM   #7
Zeke/PA
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PEE on the ATF. I do smithing FREE for all of my friends, and I do mean FREE!Mount scopes , sight in, glass bed,alter stocks,dissamble and clean!'No charges,EXCEPT maybe a beer drinking session at pick-up time.
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Old August 30, 2014, 10:44 PM   #8
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Free is different then charging for it!

I do free for Very Close friends anymore to.
And I am not trying to skirt the very clear laws.

And it is Very unlikely they are going to sue me over something I helped them with on one of their guns.

Doing it for fun occasionally, and doing it for profit every day are two very different things in the eyes of the law.

rc
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Old August 30, 2014, 11:14 PM   #9
Jim K
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AFAIK, a Type 1 FFL is good for both dealing and gunsmithing, two licenses are not needed.

The liability problem is another issue, and would/should be a concern whether a person is licensed or not. If I take a friend's $100,000 Purdey home to fix and my house burns down, he would have to be a pretty good friend to tell me, "no problem, buddy".

Jim
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Old August 30, 2014, 11:46 PM   #10
rcmodel
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Fix a $100,000 dollar Purdy?

Yikes!

A man has to know his limitations!!!
And that is well beyond mine.

But you made a perfectly good point for sure!!

rc
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Old Yesterday, 02:42 AM   #11
LAGS
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I do Gunsmithing as a Hobby, and for a few selected friends on request.
I am not required to have a Licence, as I am not running it as a Business.
But If I have cards made, or tell people I "DO gunsmithing", then I have to have a License.
All I want is my hobby to pay for itself.
I build Custom Rifles for Myself, and when I get tired of them, I sell them in Private Sales to perpetuate Funds to Buy more guns for me to build for myself.
I am lucky if I sell them for what parts I have in them.
I seldom recouperate any labor costs.
If you intend to Profit, or even Suplement your income in any way, I suggest you go the route of getting a License and making it a Business.
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Old Yesterday, 06:31 AM   #12
Bibbyman
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Maybe a guy can buy the gun. Actual money change hands. And then sale the gun back to the same person at the original price plus whatever improvements have been made. .??? Maybe just looking for a loophole in the law. You may be able to talk yourself out of serious trouble with the ATF. But it won't solve the liability insurance problem. But maybe the gun would be covered under your home owners insurance if destroyed by fire or stolen?

I wouldn't know that even working on your friend's gun for free would be totally legal.
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Old Yesterday, 11:52 AM   #13
LAGS
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@ Bibbyman
I think that if you have to Look For a Loop hole in the law, then you are looking to try and beat the system.
That will draw the attention of the powers to be, and hang you out to dry.
You can work on friends guns, and even get paid for your work.
You are esentually Helping them with their guns, but there are certain conditions that you have to follow.
You can not "Take In" guns to work on.
Your friends have to be there when you are in possesion of their guns while they are being worked on.
You can not run the work as a Business, advertise, or even solicite work.
And you can not just call someone you just met, "Your Friend " just so you can do work on their gun.
And if you are buying guns, with the intent to turn around and Re-Sell them. then you would need a Dealers License
I build guns for myself, and it ends up Years before I ever part with one, so I am not Intending to Build them For Sale.
Heck, Most of them get Horse Traded away for what I want.
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Old Yesterday, 01:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim K View Post
AFAIK, a Type 1 FFL is good for both dealing and gunsmithing, two licenses are not needed.

The liability problem is another issue, and would/should be a concern whether a person is licensed or not. If I take a friend's $100,000 Purdey home to fix and my house burns down, he would have to be a pretty good friend to tell me, "no problem, buddy".

Jim
You are correct that an 01 is all that is usually required, however, the lines between 'smithing and manufacturing are getting ever so closer to one in the same.

Personally, were I to take on a gunsmithing adventure, I would opt for the 07 as I can do everything an 01 can do PLUS manufacture.

For what its worth, buying a firearm and adding/changing anything that ADDS value to the firearm is considered manufacturing by ATF.
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Old Yesterday, 01:42 PM   #15
Bibbyman
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What would be the legal difference in taking a friend's gun for say a week while I refinish the stock, add checkering, and bed the action versus borrowing a friend's gun to use on a week long hunting trip? The gun is still in my control and possession.
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Old Yesterday, 01:59 PM   #16
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In the first case, you are taking the gun and working on it, presumably for pay, in the second, you are just using it.

You are correct that in each case you are in possession and control, the difference is that in one you are working on the gun FOR the guy, in the second you are using it on loan.
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Old Yesterday, 02:03 PM   #17
newfalguy101
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Be careful about getting hung up on the term "pay" . Compensation, would be a better word in fact.

Look at it this way, you offer to work on somebodies gun in exchange for the experience, you don't get PAID in the conventional sense, however, the knowledge/experience IS worth something.
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Old Yesterday, 02:21 PM   #18
Bibbyman
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We run a mom and pop sawmill operation and will barter whenever it makes sense. One guy was buying scrap wood to burn in his stove. Turned out he was heating a greenhouse. I said, "I like food. Bring me some produce next time insted of cash.". He did and no money changed hands. But legally you are supposed to assess the value of the trade and declare it as income and probably collect sales tax!

Looks like a lot of fine lines and hair splitting that could end up being how the ATF wants to interpret the situation. Turn a blind eye or make a federal case out of it.
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Old Yesterday, 04:10 PM   #19
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You can bet that they would make a federal case of it. Even barter is frowned on because it is so hard to control and tax. How do you tax a bartered transaction of a shotgun repair in exchange for a couple chickens and some produce? The gov't doesn't like that and will do everything they can to discourage it.
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Old Yesterday, 04:53 PM   #20
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You guys have hit the nail right on the head.
The Laws are written like a Chinese Menu and if you don't pick the right combination from column A or B then they go after your Fortune Cookie.
Plus the Tax and the ability to control and collect Taxes is what the government lives for.
They want their piece of the Pie too.
And will make your life a living hell if they feel there is any way you are not paying your fair share.
After all, it is YOUR money they are spending to go after you to collect more money.
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Old Yesterday, 04:59 PM   #21
Bibbyman
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For sure we're over regulated and it's getting worse. A year or so back we had to fight tooth and nail to keep the right to produce our own foods. The law was written to regulate small farmers that sold produce, milk, eggs, etc. But the way the bill was worded, a person growing their own food would have to be inspected and have your foods inspected before you could eat it. It was government gone crazy. It was ment more to run farmers from marketing their own products. And probably to create more government jobs.
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Old Yesterday, 06:02 PM   #22
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I once had an FFL but no longer.
I do "smithing" for my friends free of charge mainly scope mounting and sighting -in.
I really don't like any Feds snooping around here!
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Old Yesterday, 09:36 PM   #23
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"The era of home FFL's is over."

Not totally true. BATFE will not approve a license for a home gun business in an area that is zoned residential. If you live in an area that is zoned for business or is not zoned at all, and is not otherwise closed to business or to gun sales, they will issue an FFL. Their longstanding rule is that they cannot issue a license to violate local law which, on its face, is not unreasonable. That it is a deliberate tactic to reduce the number of gun dealers/gunsmiths is never mentioned by them.

Jim
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Old Today, 03:46 AM   #24
Bibbyman
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Thanks for the update.

I'll likely not pursue getting evolved enough in gunsmithing to get an FFL again. Just one of those passing thoughts a person gets from time to time. Maybe I'll rebuild the brakes on my Corvette and get it out on the road again.
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Old Today, 09:59 AM   #25
newfalguy101
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim K View Post
"The era of home FFL's is over."

Not totally true. BATFE will not approve a license for a home gun business in an area that is zoned residential. If you live in an area that is zoned for business or is not zoned at all, and is not otherwise closed to business or to gun sales, they will issue an FFL. Their longstanding rule is that they cannot issue a license to violate local law which, on its face, is not unreasonable. That it is a deliberate tactic to reduce the number of gun dealers/gunsmiths is never mentioned by them.

Jim
So you think ATF should issue a license to someone who is in an area where they can NOT legally operate a business??

People need to keep in mind just what an FFL is, its a BUSINESS* license, meaning you have to comply with ALL of the local and state laws/ordinance is the area where you want to operate...........no different than any other business

* an 03 FFL is a collectors license and has different rules
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