View Full Version : Is Home-based FFL Ban Legal?

Southwest Chuck
08-07-2012, 10:29 AM
City of Big Bear Lake, CA. Quote below was taken from page 5 of their Home Based Business License application pdf located HERE (http://www.citybigbearlake.com/images/stories/DOWNLOADS/BUSINESS/BUSINESS_LICENSES/APPLICATIONS/Home%20Occupation%20Permit.pdf)

I thought State had pre-emption of the regulations on firearms, No?

17. No home occupation shall include the sale or storage of fire arms, ordnance, ammunition,
or other weapons which are regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms,
at the site of the home occupation.

I know other Cities have tried this and CDN and CGF members have fought those proposed regulations. Are cities who have these bans opening themselves up for legal action? Is this ban legal? I ran across this while doing research on business licenses, since I was considering starting an internet business and getting my FFL when I retire since I own property up there.

08-07-2012, 7:35 PM
Yes, it's legal. It's a zoning issue, regulating what occupations/businesses are allowed to be conducted in homes or residential areas, not a ban on firearms as such.

08-07-2012, 8:21 PM
See also the wiki article on preemption -- http://wiki.calgunsfoundation.org/State_Preemption_of_Some_Gun_Regulation

08-09-2012, 4:31 PM
I think the full answer is that it is probably legal. However, given that firearms are protected by the 2nd Amendment, they would be on the firmest ground if they have either:

1) A compelling public safety reason for the zoning rule.


2) Rules against other in home businesses that are at least somewhat similar.

Local governments have more leeway in regulating commercial activity than non-commercial activity - at least from a civil rights perspective. That said, they often push the limits. For instance, some have tried to regulate home Bible Study groups - while leaving parties (Tupperware and otherwise) and all other gatherings unregulated. That is a clear violation.

Most people don't realize that churches and other houses of worship have to meet some zoning requirements too. Having had to apply for use permits for two churches, I certainly agree that requiring a permit for religious assemblies is reasonable. Issues such as safety and parking do need to be addressed. However, since religion is a civil right, trying to zone churches into or out of a particular area is highly questionable. Yet cities often try to do just that.

Personally, I think that there is at least a chance that this blanket ban could be unconstitutional. If the FFL is not going to actually be operating a storefront at the residential location AND other business that involve "hazardous" items have been permitted to operate from home (say, a painting contractor) - then it would be clear that firearms are being singled out. That MIGHT be a violation of the 2nd Amendment. Ditto if the city allows any other business - including retail stores - to operate from home. In my area there is an FFL who does nothing except process Internet sales - by appointment only. The city gave him a permit to operate from his home on that basis. I doubt that they would have approved a full on retail operation.

I think when SCOTUS gets done, whenever that is, cities will have to treat gun shops at least as well as they do other businesses. Since most cities severely limit home businesses, they are probably on firm ground keeping them out of residential areas. However, since Heller/McDonald a total ban on FFLs anywhere probably would not fly.