FFL Dealer Resources

A Guide to Starting an FFL Business

Running a gun store is not just opening a shop and waiting for the customers and money to start coming in. Before the doors ever open, every business including a gun shop has some pre-opening steps that must be covered. Here is a look at those steps and some of the unique issues that face gun stores and some resources to handle those issues. 

All this is written with the understanding the business owner already has a federal firearms license (FFL). The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATF) is where every gun dealer gets a federal license to buy, sell and sometimes make firearms. A license is not needed to sell ammo. An FFL is needed to commercially manufacture and sell ammo. For help obtaining an FFL, please review the FFL Business Blogs

The first three steps are: 

  1. A business plan, business solutions, credit cards processing, finance, etc. 
  2. Professional development and assistance. 
  3. Knowing local, state and federal regulations. 

Gun stores have an added step that is just as important. Security is vital. 

SECURITY 

BATF is BIG on security. The agency has some FFL resources including a report of 40 pages worth of security advice . 

This emphasis on security is justified. From 2013 to 2017, FFL burglaries went from 338 to 577, a 70.71 percent increase and an increase every year. Over the same period, FFL robberies went up 266.67 percent and guns stolen during robberies went up 200 percent. 

Orchid Advisors breaks down  the BATF burglary report into more manageable pieces. 

"The most common means of entry was breach of front / rear doors and breaking windows. It is recommended additional security measures be taken to assure all doors and windows are secured during and after business hours, and that all security devices are routinely inspected to assure proper functionality," says Orchid. 

BATF even has a report on what happens after a firearms loss. The National Shooting Sports Foundation breaks down the burglary of an FFL business

An FFL business must take extraordinary measure to be secure and safe. Simply locking the door is not enough. Here are some ways to beef up the security. 

Law Enforcement 

Have a good working relationship with the local Thin Blue Line. Ask officers to come in and get their impression of what security measures are in place and what can be improved. Police can also be a good source of revenue. 

Report unusual activity. It is law enforcement’s job to check out reports of unusual or suspicious people. 

People 

Know the business neighbors, especially if a gun store is in a bay in a building. Arrange a watch system. If one business' alarm is tripped, everyone on the block should then get a phone call. A call tree is the most effective way to do this. 

Background check all employees. Any time an employee is let go or leaves, change locks, passcodes and PINs. If the business has a vault, which can be expensive to modify, keep the combination private. 

Cameras 

A security system is more than cameras that dump video to a box in the back of the store. Certainly, a good camera system is needed. It should load into an on-premises recording device as well as off-site locations. Good camera systems can load video to the cloud as well as a record at the owner's house. 

Some cameras need to be obvious. These are targeted by criminals. Others need to be hidden. Disguised cameras are good. Here is a list of other places to hide cameras. 

Check video regularly by going back several days. Once the recording begins to degrade, it is time to replace the recording device. Quality video may be the difference between solving a break-in and the criminals going free. 

Alarms 

An alarm system is necessary. Many insurance companies that insure FFL business require an alarm system. The system should be connected to doors and the windows so if one is broken, the alarm goes off. Ideally, the alarm is loud inside the shop - people outside can hear - and sends messages to the store owner and the alarm company. 

Make sure the system has a cellular backup in case phone lines are cut. A battery backup is needed for the times when the power goes out. 

If the power goes out, head to the store whether or not the alarm is tripped. 

Test the system regularly. Change passcodes frequently, even if employee turnover is zero. 

Inside motion sensors that trip alerts are ideal. 

Storage 

The best storage is a safe attached to the floor or a vault. Burglars are not going to spend hours trying to pull a safe out. A safe can be cut open with an angle grinder but these things make a huge racket and throw sparks everywhere. 

What to look for in a safe: 

  • Internal hinges. 
    • Safes with external hinges often have removable screws. 
    • Taking them out does not guarantee access to the side, but does make it easier. 
  • Side, top and bottom locking bolts. 
    • The more bolts it has, the harder it is to get the door open. 
  • Fire rating. 
    • A higher and longer rating is good. 
  • Watertight, especially in flood-possible areas. 
  • Movable shelves. 
    • Shelves need to be repositioned to fit guns. 
    • Fixed shelves limit what can be placed in the safe. 

When buying a safe, pay no attention to names like Browning, Winchester and Remington. Look at the actual construction, the maker's reputation and warranties. Favorite gun brand stickers can be added later. 

Vaults 

Vaults are just huge safes with one difference, walls. If a vault door is mounted in a room that has Sheetrock walls, the vault door is just an impressive sight. Reinforced walls and a reinforced ceiling are mandatory with a vault door. Several companies make vault doors. Some are just gun safe doors without the cabinet. Some are true vault doors that require a forklift to bring in. Some top gun storage solution companies are: 

Click here for a long list of safe manufacturers. 

Display 

Locking guns away is the most secure way to keep guns safe, but a retailer needs to have his merchandise on display. Several companies market high-security clear-view display cases to the jewelry store and gun industry. Buyers can see the guns, but cannot get to them. The case construction prevents “smash & grab” attacks. The exact material makeup of a case will vary by manufacturer. 

Top makers are: 

Some of the gun safe and vault companies mentioned above also make high-security display cases. 

What to look for in a display case: 

  • Iron or steel support structure. The best security glass in the world is no good if the frame is weak. 
  • Secure locks. Not these
  • Multiple locking points. One lock in the middle of a long door means the corners can be pried open. 
  • Strength of the “glass” in the case. Here are some tests on security glass

NFA items like short barreled rifles, shotguns, full auto, suppressors and the like can be on display during business hours, but are best locked away when the shop is closed. 

The Building 

Check the building where the business is located. Look for structural weaknesses. These are: 

  • Windows, fixed and ones that open. 
  • The roof. 
    • How solid is it? 
  • The ventilation system. 
    • Is it big enough for someone to get access to the building from the outside? 
  • The walls. 
    • Thieves will sometimes try to break into a gun store through a next-door business that does not have an alarm system. 
  • The back door. 
  • Shared space. 
    • In a suite of businesses with drop ceilings, make sure the dividing walls go all the way to the roof. 
    • If not, a burglar can break in next door, hop the wall and be in the gun store without anyone knowing. 
  • Outside. 
    • Vegetation must be cut back. 
    • Bushes provide a hiding place for someone breaking in. 
    • Outside lights need must be bright and eliminate shadows. 
  • Parking. 
    • Put in some bollards. These stop criminals from smashing through walls with a vehicle. 

Regular Security 

Wipe down all the cases at closing. Make it easy for law enforcement to find fingerprints. 

Take home all the keys. 

Leave the cash register open and empty. 

Make regular bank drops, even during the middle of the day. 

Do not announce vacation and holiday hours anywhere. That is telling criminals, "Hey, I'm out of town which is a perfect time for you to come rob me."

Padlocks should be hardened steel and be hard to pick. Do not use Master Lock. Veteran lock picker Bosnian Bill calls Master Lock a joke. His website has links to videos where he shows how to pick Master Locks with zip ties, strips from aluminum cans and more. He also discusses true high-security locks. 

One More Thing 

An FFL dealer needs to be very careful about storing guns for another person. Reuters took a look at this idea and found the federal law wanting

MONEY MATTERS 

Having an FFL means doing business. Business means having a place to take care of finances. Money matters in more ways than one. FFL resources are a bit more limited here than for most other businesses. 

Some banks are decidedly not FFL friendly. Some do not have a policy and some actively court FFL dealers. Even if the bank accepts FFL businesses, find out the bank’s position on gun control

In general, independent banks are more likely to be friendly toward a firearm-related business than the giants. The small banks know they have to work hard to earn and keep business. 

Credit Cards 

Running a business today means accepting credit and debit cards. Smaller banks may not offer credit card processing. If so, look for a processing company that works with gun stores. 

Choosing a Processor 

When choosing a credit card processor, the top things to look for are: 

  • Fees 
  • Ease of use 
  • Money transfer timelines 
  • Cards accepted. 
    • Visa and MasterCard are universal, at least in the United States. 
    • Discover and American Express are almost always accepted by processors. 
      • If not, they are usually available as an add-on. 
    • Diners Club and Carte Blanch may require an additional fee to accept those cards. 

Fees 

Fees are very important. Firearm sales is a low-profit business so keeping costs low is a priority. 

Most card processors see gun stores as a high-risk business. Card processing companies charge higher fees to high-risk merchants. Some offer increased security measures. Additional charges for support, machine rental and more may apply. 

"If, for whatever reason, your business is determined to be a high-risk one, the consequences can be severe. Many processors will simply refuse to approve you for a merchant account, while others will charge you significantly higher rates and fees than you would otherwise have to pay. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of merchant services providers that deliberately market to high-risk businesses that are struggling to get approved for a merchant account, only to rip them off with outrageously high fees and rates, as well as draconian contract terms," says Merchant Maverick, a website that reviews credit cards and card processors. 

Merchant Maverick has a list of FFL friendly credit card processors and a review of each service.

The top processors are: 

BlueDog - "We have a clear advantage over the competition: we don’t process firearms merchants, including Title II/Class 3 and manufacturers, as high risk. We extend our philosophy of providing unbeatable rates to the firearms industry which means the average FFL merchant saves over $1,500.00 every year. Best of all, the savings we promise are guaranteed." 

BlueDog charges a monthly fee and collects a nickel on every sale as well as a percentage of the sale. The percent varies. Only after creating an account does a business learn what the fee is. The company lets merchants bring their own swipe machine or buy one for $299. BlueDog also offers a swipe machine for mobile devices for $89. Web-based services are available for a higher monthly fee. (Recommended)

Clearent - This also specifically addresses firearms sales on its website here. It does not state what its fees and charges are. A business has to apply for an account to get that information. 

Durango Merchant Services - "If you want to open your business up to international customers in a way that will make things simple both for the shopper and for you, a multi-currency merchant account is your solution." 

Durango is one of the few credit card processors that lets an FFL do business with people in other countries. An FFL with an import-export license will find this useful. Firearms are considered high-risk. 

Electronic Transfer - According to Card Payment Options, this county reroutes FFL customers to Gun Merchant Account (see below). 

It offers some services to FFL holders. The website promises "We can beat just about any rates and fees you may currently have so give us a call to see what we can do to save you money!" Finding out the fees requires a phone call or setting up an account. 

eMerchant Broker - Gun businesses are listed a high risk. 

Rates are listed "as low as 2.99 percent," or 2.99 cents on the dollar. That is among the lowest of the advertised rates for gun dealers. Equipment and service fees are not listed. 

Gun Merchant Account - This processor's home page is covered with guns, making it clear this processor is 2A friendly. 

Gun Merchant connects to many different card processing networks including some overseas. Rates are not listed, but are available via a phone call. The company offers a free test drive

Host Merchant Services - Gun dealers are high risk. 

The equipment is free. Mobile options are available. The transaction fees and monthly service costs are not listed. Host Merchant does process Automated Clearing House payments and electronic checks. 

Payline - Payline considers FFL holders to be a high risk customer. Payline lists its costs for regular customers. To get the high-risk fees, a customer has to create an account. The website’s price comparison chart is useless for FFL holders because the companies compared in the breakdown, except for the generic "banks," will not process gun sales. 

Payment Alliance International - This company is endorsed by the NRA Business Alliance, National Shooting Sports Foundation, and Single Action Shooting Society. 

The website opens with information about ATMs only. Payment Alliance does credit card processing, which is listed on other web pages. Fee information is only available after signing up for an account. 

PaymentCloud - without saying it specifically, PaymentCloud does see gun dealers as high risk. 

Costs are not listed. Once a business applies for an account, the rates and fees are provided. 

SOAR Payments - "Soar Payments has been proud to serve the firearms industry since our company began. We have developed extensive relationships with gun friendly credit card processors and FFL friendly banks, so we can confidently and sustainably support firearms merchants. Consequently, we remain ideally positioned to offer low price, stable firearms payment processing — without the interruptions, payout freezes, and unfair terminations that businesses have seen at PayPal, Stripe, or Square." 

SOAR classifies FFLs as mid- to high-risk. The company's policies for mid-risk and high-risk are not listed on the website. A business has to fill out an application to get a quote. 

Tasker Payment Gateways - “As a BBB accredited A+ rated provider, we will set up your online firearms or ammunition website with an FFL compatible payment gateway that fits your business. We offer FFL dealers solid payment gateways and credit card processing recommendations that work with all major shopping cart platforms including Shopify and WooCommerce.” 

Shopify and WooCommerce are online sales platforms. A business uses the platform to create a store to sell online. *Note: As of August 15, 2018 Shopify has banned some firearms and ammunition sales so we do NOT recommend using that online sales platform.

Tasker does not list prices. Apply for an account to get rates and service costs. Without saying it exactly, Tasker does consider FFL businesses to be high risk. 

Vantage Payments - "With multi currency processing you can expand your online business to untapped countries by enabling card holders to purchase your goods and services in their local currency." 

Without specifically saying so, Vantage is a high-risk payment processor. Fees are only available after applying for an account. Vantage also handles transactions from foreign countries. 

INTERNET 

Doing business online can be hard for an FFL holder. The Internet's major commerce and payment platforms explicitly refuse to handle firearms transactions. Many of the above mentioned credit card processors offer online services. 

When choosing an online payment processor, make sure business’ online shopping cart program is compatible with the card processor's system. 

The two ways to sell guns online are the business’ website or through an auction website. So far no one has created a truly viable commission-based retail website; think Amazon but for guns. 

Websit

Business today moves at the speed of the Internet. Any FFL holder who wants to run a regular business needs a website. Turning the website into a point-of-sale means: 

  • Keeping the inventory current. 
  • Having a shopping cart program. 
  • Having a contract with a company to process online payments. 
    • Most credit card companies offer this service. 

Auction 

Gun auction websites offer the opportunity to sell guns without having an ecommerce friendly website. Expect to pay a listing fee and a percentage of the sale to the auction company. 

The top online auction houses for guns are: 

Two other online auction houses also sell guns, but that is not their major sales area. 

Many regional auction houses hold both live and online gun auctions. A search on Google using the words "gun auction" and a state or region will show these places. 

CAUTION: Any guns sold through an online auction should be shipped to an FFL holder, unless they meet the BATF regulations for antique firearm. If in doubt, ship to another FFL. 

Internet Retail

Woo Commerce helps businesses set up online stores. This can connect to the main website or be a stand alone website. 

COST OF BUSINESS 

Having an FFL means having a business, according to the BATF. The license holder has to do something to generate income. The cost of that business varies tremendously. 

This section takes a look at the costs of having a gun store. 

An FFL business can be as simple as firearm transfers. A transfer is when a gun is purchased from one FFL dealer and shipped to another. The receiving dealer completes the BATF form 4473

An FFL transfer accepts a gun for a buyer when the gun come from out of state. In this case, the FFL holder does not have any inventory since the guns are transferred almost as soon as they arrive. This is the least expensive option for an FFL holder. This can be done from a house, depending on local regulations. 

The other end is having a huge retail store with guns, accessories and other items for sale. This can run into millions of dollars. 

A physical store is not required to get an FFL. The BATF still grants licenses to home-based FFLs for transfers. An FFL is not a permit to run a business. It is a permit to deal in firearms. Local and state business regulations must be followed. 

Taxes 

The kind of business is going to determine what taxes are paid. At one end, an FFL transfer business has the lowest tax burden. "All income earned through the taxpayer’s business, as an independent contractor or from informal side jobs is self-employment income, which is fully taxable and must be reported on Form 1040," says the IRS. "Independent contractors must report all income as taxable, even if it is less than $600. Even if the client does not issue a Form 1099-MISC, the income, whatever the amount, is still reportable by the taxpayer." 

On the high end, an FFL with a full retail store or manufacturing shop with employees must pay taxes into far more areas. Some of these may not be a tax per se, but they are listed here as a tax. They are: 

  • Federal and state income tax. 
  • Social Security taxes for employees. 
    • Half the tax is taken from the employee's salary. The employer pays the other tax. 
  • Unemployment tax. 
  • Property tax. 
  • Sales tax. 
  • Occupational tax, also known as a business license. 
  • Inventory tax. 
  • Special assessment tax. 
    • A special assessment is usually a locally imposed tax for a regional or local project. They also vary by state. 
  • Insurance. 
    • The insurance industry also considers guns stores high-risk. Shop around for the best rate. 

SETTING UP A BUSINESS

Business Plan 

Experts recommend a business plan. Entrepreneur magazine says the plan has seven key points: 

  1. Executive summary 
  2. Business description 
  3. Market strategies 
  4. Competitive analysis 
  5. Design and development plan 
  6. Operations and management plan 
  7. Financial factors RocketFFL.com has a kit of FFL resources aimed specifically at helping an FFL holder expand the business. 

The local Chamber of Commerce can direct an FFL holder to agencies that help build a business plan. The chamber also has contacts who can explain local and state business regulations. 

PROFIT 

Profit is the money left over when all expenses are taken out. To be successful a business must price its goods and services high enough to make a profit. 

The profit margin on new guns is thin. Writing for AmmoLand.com, Jim Shults takes a hard look at what running a gun store means in terms of money. Internet forums are packed with discussions about the small profit margin on new gun sales. 

Tactical Retailer suggests dealing in used guns turns a better profit. " Used guns (if not neglected or banged up) can be purchased for relatively cheap, cleaned up and resold for a tidy profit. Smart business owners will often buy up used hunting shotguns and rifles right after hunting season concludes, then wait to sell them until the next season when demand increases," writes Jim Grant

The low margin on guns is why most brick and mortar retailers stock far more than just guns and ammo. Accessories, fishing gear and clothing deliver a higher profit and counterbalance the low margin on firearms. 

FINANCING 

FFL resources include money management. Financing is more than just getting a loan to open a business. It is a checking account, a way to accept credit and debit cards (see section FFL Finances for more on the cards) and other needed financial services. 

A good credit score goes a long way to getting help when setting up a business. 

A business plan should include how and where to get needed financing. 

EMPLOYEES 

If the business is big enough, employees are needed. If an employee is going to sell guns, they can be added to an FFL using the responsible person form from BATF. Employees selling firearms must be legally able to own the firearm they are selling. 

Employees also incur expenses other than salary. These are listed below. 

LICENSES 

For a home-based FFL transfer business, that may be the only license needed. Some local governments require a home-based business to have a local license. Some do not. 

For a full retail business, a business license is needed. Licenses are available at City Hall or the Courthouse complex. In some places, a state business license is needed. 

OVERHEAD

Overhead is a catchall term for the expenses associated with running a business of any kind. Overhead can be fixed like rent or variable like a monthly utility bill. 

Patriot Software offers help with computing overhead costs. 

Briefly, overhead costs are: 

  • Taxes. 
  • Employee fringe benefits. 
  • Salaries, including a salary for the owner. 
  • Mortgage or rent, if applicable. 
  • Utilities. 
  • Building maintenance. 
  • Advertising and promotion online and offline
  • Association dues. 
  • Fees for service and equipment. This includes credit card fees, accounting, software, supplies and more. 
  • Insurance. 
  • Inventory. 
  • Supplies. 
  • Security. ATF is serious about security and secure storage for FFL holder. 

STORE 

An FFL business, by law, must have a physical address. Since an FFL transfer business can be in a home and not have inventory, calling it a "store" is not entirely accurate. 

Online 

An online-only store is a cheaper alternative to a brick and mortar building. Online stores can have drop shipping (see section on Drop Shipping). Firearms can be drop shipped but must go to an FFL when crossing state lines. 

Online stores must also have a way to online accept payments. (See section on FFL Finances.) 

An online presence can be combined with everything from an FFL transfer business to a full brick and mortar retail store. 

Another way to have an online store is with an affiliate program. With an affiliate program, the FFL holder promotes products and earns a commission when someone buys through the affiliate link. This does require promotion to be effective and successful. 

Zoning 

While not exactly a cost of doing business, zoning is one of the business rules that must be observed. 

Zoning ordinances are local laws that say how real estate may be used. Residential zoning (homes) is single-family houses to apartment complexes. They can be on several acres to small plots barely big enough for the home. On the other end is heavy industrial use zoning. 

The local zoning or building department at City Hall or the courthouse have records showing the various zoning codes and how a property is zoned. 

The FFL application does ask about zoning. If the zoning code does not allow a business, the license application will be rejected. 

Some zoning regulations allow home-based businesses. Others do not. Local zoning codes may restrict gun stores in certain areas. 

Property can be rezoned. 

SHIPPING 

An FFL holder will be asked about shipping and receiving firearms eventually. Here are federal regulations and shipping company-specific requirements. Each state can have additional rules. 

Wholesale 

When receiving guns for sale from a wholesaler, the process is simple. Accept the gun when it arrives. Log it into the FFL record book. 

Gunsmith 

When a gunsmith receives a gun for work, the BATF says the gun can be handled in two ways. "If the gunsmith is able to return the firearm to the owner during the same business day, it is not necessary to list the firearm in the A&D (acquisition and disposal) record as an ‘acquisition.’ If the gunsmith has possession of the firearm from one business day to another or longer, the firearm must be recorded as an ‘acquisition’ and a ‘disposition’ in the A&D record," says the federal agency. 

FFL Transfer 

Some FFL holders have a license only to accept guns on behalf of the buyer. Online auctions are a good example of this. A person in Texas buys a gun in an auction held in Illinois. The gun has to ship across state lines. 

The Texas buyer makes an arrangement with a nearby FFL holder to receive the gun. When the gun comes in, the Texas FFL logs it into his record book. The buyer then comes and fills out Form 4473. The FFL does all the needed background checks according to federal and state law. Once the background check is clear, the gun is handed over. 

The receiving FFL can charge for this service. BATF says this is a valid reason for getting an FFL. 

Handguns can only be purchased in the state where the person lives. If purchased online from another state, the handgun must be transferred to an in-state FFL. They must be shipped via a carrier like UPS

FedEx says it will ship firearms, but restricts that to "Licensed importers; licensed manufacturers; licensed dealers; licensed collectors; law enforcement agencies of the U.S. or any other department or agency thereof; and law enforcement agencies of any state or any department, agency or political subdivisions thereof; or 2. Where not prohibited by local, state and federal law, from individuals to licensed importers, licensed manufacturers or licensed dealers (and return of same)." 

In State 

Guns can be shipped within a state. A person from Reno, NV, goes to Las Vegas and buys a rifle. The buyer can either take the gun home with him or have it shipped to Reno without going through another FFL. 

Why would a person do that? The buyer may be on a business trip and not allowed to have a firearm in his possession. The buyer could be on a vacation and does not want to haul a gun around for the entire trip. The reasons are nearly infinite. 

Antiques 

An exception to the shipping and FFL transfer rules is allowed for antique firearms. Antique under the BATF definitions means more than old. Antiques can be shipped across state lines without paperwork or going through an FFL. 

As Gunbroker explains, an antique is, "Any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898; and any replica of any firearm" described above. Antiques include rimfire and centerfire weapons if the ammo for them is no longer made in the US and cannot be found through ordinary shopping. Muzzleloaders are also included in the antique firearms category no matter when they are made. Gunbroker says an exception is made for "any muzzle loading weapon which can be readily converted to fire fixed ammunition by replacing the barrel, bolt, breechblock, or any combination thereof." A good example of this is the CVA line of single shot guns. Change the barrel and go from a frontstuffer to a .308 in seconds. 

Drop Shipping 

Getting the most of FFL resources means having a good relationship with shipping companies, especially the local drivers. Guns have to be delivered to a store and sometimes to a customer. Drop shipping is one way to do this. Drop shipping means a customer places an order at one business, such as an online gun store. The gun is shipped from the warehouse to the customer's FFL transfer. 

Guns can only be dropped shipped across state lines from one FFL to another FFL. An FFL holder cannot drop ship a gun to a non-FFL holder in another state. BATF form 4473 must be filled out in person when and where the gun is picked up. 

Here is how it works: 

  1. A retailer list guns and ammo for sale on his website. These guns are not actually in his stock. The guns are in stock at a drop shipper. 
  2. An order is placed. 
  3. The retailer receives the order. 
  4. The retailer then forwards the order to the distribution company or the order is forwarded automatically. 
  5. The distribution company processes and ships the order to the requested FFL. The receiving FFL does the paperwork. The original seller never touches the package or the gun but earns a profit from the sale.

Guns can be drop shipped to the FFL holder as well. The customer pays for the gun. The gun is ordered from a distribution center. When the gun arrives, the customer fills out form 4473 and takes his gun. 

In this case, the dealer does not maintain a physical inventory. This somewhat reduces the need for security. When the already-purchased gun arrives, it must be secured until the buyer takes it. 

Gun Drop Shippers

Accessories

Ammo 

Shipping ammo and some components is another beast entirely. Live ammunition, including blanks, must be shipped under HazMat (hazardous materials) regulations. Ammo and HazMat components are also listed as Other Regulated Materials, Domestic (ORM-D). 

For reloading purposes, HazMat are primers, powders and projectiles that are tracers and incendiary. The reloading components for some Dragon's Breath and similar specialty shotgun rounds are incendiary and require HazMat shipping. 

Unprimed brass and hulls are not HazMat. Reloading dies and presses are not HazMat. Projectiles without flammable components are not HazMat. Full copper, jacketed, all lead, tungsten, tin, steel and bismuth are not HazMat. 

UPS has a web page listing its regulations for shipping ammo and HazMat components. FedEx also has special rules for shipping ammo and HazMat components. 

The Post Office will not ship ammunition. If there is any question about the HazMat applicability of a shipment, call the US Department of Transportation toll-free 1.800.467.4922. 

Drop Shipping Ammo 

Drop shipping ammunition is easier than shipping firearms in one respect. Ammo does not have to transfer through an FFL in most cases. Some states have more regulations on how and to whom ammunition may be shipped. 

Some ammo drop shippers are: 

Some of the firearms wholesalers will also drop ship ammunition. 

Ammo & Guns 

When shipping ammo and guns should be separated. Under no circumstances should a gun be loaded when shipped. 

SUPPORT AND HELP 

Running a gun shop can be trying under the best of times. Finding support and help is pretty easy. Several gun rights organizations offer FFL resources to gun dealers. At the same time, these organizations need help. They need money to fund campaigns in support of gun rights, gun friendly legislators and laws. An FFL business owner should consider putting some money toward these groups. 

Leading anyone's list of groups that promote gun rights and lending a hand where needed is the National Rifle Association "The National Rifle Association is America's longest-standing civil rights organization. Together with our more than five million members, we're proud defenders of history's patriots and diligent protectors of the Second Amendment." 

The NRA has come under fire from some gun owners and gun groups as being too willing to compromise

The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) takes a stronger stand than the NRA on gun issues. "We are dedicated to promoting a better understanding about our Constitutional heritage to privately own and possess firearms. To that end, we carry on many educational and legal action programs designed to better inform the public about the gun control debate." 

Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO) is open to anyone. The JPFO says it has the word "Jewish" as an identifier intentionally. "The fact that we are a Jewish organization enables us to criticize Jewish Leaders such as the Anti -Defamation League and Elie Wiesel who support prohibition of civilian ownership of firearms. JPFO can criticize these people and organizations without fear of being labeled anti-Semitic. We also attack non Jewish gun prohibitionists such as Sarah Brady and Dianne Feinstein whose falsehoods erode the Constitution's protections that are most vital to all Americans." 

Gun Owners of America (GOA) is another no-compromise 2A supporter. "The GOA Board of Directors brings over 100 years of combined knowledge and experience on guns, legislation and politics. GOA's Board is not satisfied with the 'status quo.' Americans have lost some of our precious gun rights and WE WANT THEM BACK! This is why GOA is considered the 'no compromise' gun lobby. From state legislatures and city councils to the United States Congress and the White House, GOA represents the views of gun owners whenever their rights are threatened." 

National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) is a lobbying association with several state-and regional-based affiliate organizations. "Accepting NO COMPROMISE on the issue of gun control, NAGR works tirelessly to hold politicians accountable for their anti-gun views, and has made great strides in protecting and preserving the Second Amendment. But our effectiveness in the battle against the gun grabbers depends entirely on the support of gun rights supporters like you." 

Some list the Constitutional Rights PAC as a gun rights supporting agency. The CR-PAC is a political action committee that pushes a greater respect for the Constitution. Gun rights are a part of that. 

State and Regional 

The website Every 2nd Matters keeps a list of other more than 100 organizations, First Amendment bloggers and websites at the state and regional level. Some of these are specifically aimed at certain groups, like the Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, but any support from gun rights activists is appreciated. Some are industry specific like the American Suppressor Association

By naming themselves for a particular group, ethnicity or religion, they are able to attack within the ranks without being called out for racism or not understanding what it is like to be a member of that particular group. 

MORE INFORMATION 

This is an opening primer for running an FFL-based business. We have more ideas, tips and guides in our blog. If you have a topic we need to cover, please let us know.

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