Part 2: Getting a Home-Based FFL (Zoning & FFL Type)

    Let’s make this clear, zoning is a real pain in the arse. Before I delve into the details, my BIG thanks to all the readers who sent in tips & tricks. I would especially like to call out Jesse, Jess, Ashley, Justin of Echelon Arms, & Bryan. Thank you and keep them advice coming!

    For this installment, I will focus on overcoming two hurdles: my landlord and my city. Further, I will discuss how their covenants will choose my FFL type.

    Example apartments from my complex.

    Example apartments from my complex.

    The Lease:

    Considering that I would be opening a business for guns (not your typical mail-order business), I decided to take the route of asking for permission instead of forgiveness. Since I rent in multi-family housing, the first step was to check with my lease and ensure there were no specific prohibitions.

    Right under “Limitations on Conduct” clause there was the dreaded statement: “Conducting any kind of business (including child care services) in your apartment or in the apartment community is prohibited…” My heart sank! I thought I was done well before I got started…

    “Except…” (Whahoo!)

    My "Limitations on Conduct" clause that just about sank me...

    My “Limitations on Conduct” clause that just about sank me…

    “…that any lawful business conducted “at home” by computer, mail, or telephone is permissible if customers, clients, patients, or other business associates do not come to your apartment for business purposes.” The key word there was lawful;  I would have to see if the City would put up any roadblocks.

    Just to be safe, I stopped by and talked with the Property Manager to ensure she knew what I was doing and was OK with it. Much to my surprise, she was enthusiastic, if only to find a new less expensive source for her husband.

    Municipal Zoning

    Fort Wayne, Indiana. Great small town and very "Open for Business"

    Fort Wayne, Indiana. Great town and very “Open for Business”

    Much to my surprise, the City was very accommodating. Calls to the Planning Commission were returned the next day and they were quite happy to encourage new business (Side note- a few major employers left the city a few years ago and the mayor is doing everything to get the city going again. Shockingly, he is a Democrat. That said, Indiana Democrats are about as liberal as California Republicans).

    There were three types of home businesses, with no restrictions on the type of dwelling (ie house or apartment). Home Workshop, Home Business, and Home Occupation, going from most approvals to least. In fact, Home Occupations require no approval from the city. The other two were a quick meeting and $150 unless someone objected (of which the burden of proof was on the objector). Since I could not take visitors, only Home Occupation applied, the definition of which is very open.


    Type of FFL for Me

    Annoyingly, my lease precludes me from having customers stop by (4473 transfers) or “manufacturing” any goods. As such, I have to ship or drop off weapons at local gun shops for transfers or sell online through GunBroker/etc.. Since I cannot “manufacture”, there is little sense in applying for a FFL 07/SOT 02. Plus, with the yearly ITAR fees the FFL 07 is expensive. Guess I am stuck with a FFL 01/SOT 03… Nuts!

    Key thing to know: FFL 07s require the company to register for ITAR (International Trade & Arms Regulations) with the Department of State. This is a $2,500 fee, yearly! While many FFL 07’s did not register for years, the Government has started prosecuting those who do not. Some internet lawyers will say there is some “debate” on if you have to register. I will state unequivocally, you were/are required to (per published DoS guidance) and you should. My day job is working for a DoD company with classified projects. ITAR is serious business and you do not want to run afoul of it. All legal heck will rain upon you. 

    After reading through the FFL123 guides and online forums, I really expected my zoning to be a major issue. While it does stop me from having customers stop by, I can still sell online and market to LE agencies (manufacturer’s ship directly to the agency). For now, I am good to go and cleared hot for further pursuit

    Next step: Choosing a Company Structure & Creating It

    Current Running Total for FFL & SOT ($54.99):



    Nathan S

    One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

    The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.