This year, my husband and I decided to take our first trip to Shot Show to explore the possibility of a business venture in the firearms world. I’ve only really been shooting for the last year, and already I’m approached on almost a daily basis. I’m in California, so shooting can be a bit of a taboo. It goes something like this:
Random non-Shooter: “Oh…you shoot?”
Me: “Yes, range day is usually every Wednesday around 7pm. I’d be happy to give you a quick lesson and let you try out some different gear if you’re interested.”
Random non-Shooter: “I’ve always wanted to do that, will you teach me?”
This then progresses to “can you help me pick out a gun / gear?” and “I can’t find [insert gun model here] can you help me find it?”
I’m very particular with gear. I come from the backpacking world, where your gear better be spot on if you’re going to hump it 15-20 miles in a day, otherwise you’ll be crippled before you get to enjoy the trip. We call that being a “gear whore…” Well, my “gear-whore-edness” has definitely translated over into my shooting sport. I’ll spend hours…hours…agonizing over specs and reviews on a firearm before I’ll recommend it and, because of that particularity, I’m good at choosing the right firearm for many people. As a business model, this would lend itself well to a home business based on teaching basic shooting, and then sourcing gear for the new shooter. It doesn’t seem like this would be difficult to get started as an FFL, certainly not when you’re already a lawyer and have had to deal with things like Attorney Trust Accounts and all the fun accounting that goes with it. Well, it is a bit harder than that.
Here is a little primer on what it takes to become and FFL in California.
Getting the FFL itself is really the least of your worries. Jumping through the California specific hoops is your biggest worry. If you want the end result of being able to ship firearms in/out of this state, your end goal will be a listing on the CFD (centralized firearms dealer) list. The CA DOJ will not issue you a valid CFD number unless you have all of the following items first:
1. Local Business license stating “Valid for the retail sale of firearms”. It must say exactly this, or there is a good chance your application will bounce
2. Certificate of Eligibility (COE) from the CA DOJ (that’s the Department of Justice)
3. Retail Sales Permit (Board of Equalization)
4. Federal Firearms License
5. If accepting consignment guns, you need a Secondhand Dealer License, which would come from your local law enforcement official in charge. B&PC 21641, if you really need the code.
6. Then you need to sign up for the Firearms Dealer Acquisition System (FDAS) here: http://oag.ca.gov/firearms/fdasoverview
Now that doesn’t seem all that complicated, right? I’d specifically be looking at an 07 FFL, and with that, you have to add another item – registration with ITAR. That along can cost $2500! So that’s starting to sound a bit cost prohibitive.
When you add in all of the other fees, plus the business taxes, you’re probably at $3500+ to get rolling in California as an FFL 07. I would want the 07 specifically for the ability to custom assemble and sell firearms at retail. This is really where I think a small / local / cottage home business could shine, but it would be a big step. An FFL 01 would probably be around $1200 to get rolling, so that is something I may look into.
For now, I think I’ll stick to blogging, get the consulting / teaching business running, and leave the rest to my local gun shops!