At-home firearms sales business nixed by BOA

Published 4:38 pm Friday, September 18, 2020

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A proposal to operate a home-based online firearms brokerage was denied this week by the Troy Board of Adjustments.

Austin Steen came before the board on Thursday seeking a variance to allow him to operate an online firearms business out of his home. “Online firearm sales are a $2 billion industry with about 2,000 players in it right now,” he told the board. “That’s primarily what I’m targeting.”

The plan, as Steen outlined it, would be sell firearms through a website, managed from his home. Consumers would order the firearms from his website, and he would then contact the manufacturer to arrange delivery of the firearm to an authorized drop-ship location, such as a licensed firearms store or another Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) location.

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“Ideally it would primarily be drop-shipping, but I can’t lie and say I won’t be getting some shipped to me to take to the post office to be mailed to the customer,” he told the board. “But I don’t plan to have people coming to my house to purchase firearms or pick them up.”

Securing local approval was the first step is an extensive licensing process overseen by the ATF, Steen said.  “You have to be in compliance with all state and local regulations,” before seeking the necessary approval from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Steen told the board.

While Troy’s home occupation regulations do allow for online based businesses, the policy states that “the operation of a home occupation shall not involve any potentially dangerous or deadly weapons of any kind, including but not limited to knives, firearms, or air guns.”

“From a brokerage standpoint I don’t have an issue,” Dax Pugh said. “But when we do something outside the code, we have to make sure it doesn’t adversely affect the people around you.”

Board members raised potential safety concerns, for both Steen and his neighbors, relating to the shipping of firearms to the house and the possible storage of firearms at the house, even for short periods of time.

“I’m torn,” Pugh said. “On one side, I’m saying you should be able to operate a business with a computer from your house, but the part with guns coming to you in your house is a concern, especially with no one from your neighborhood here to support this.”

Steen reiterated that his goal was to create an online business. “I don’t want to be selling guns out of my house to strangers I don’t know,” he said.

But when board members suggested they might consider granting a variance with a stipulation prohibiting any delivery of firearms to his house, Steen declined. “I don’t think the ATF will accept that,” he said.

Board members voted unanimously to deny the variance.

In other business, the board members approved a variance to allow the placement of an additional wall sign on the secondary street-side elevation at 101 Southland Village and a request to allow a 6-foot privacy fence on the street side yard at 211 Dendron Ave.