Each state has its own laws that regulate gun ownership, but if you want to start a business involving firearms or explosives, you will need a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Businesses that import and manufacture firearms or import and manufacture ammunition must first qualify for a FFL. The agency in charge of issuing a FFL is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). A gun dealer must also have the license. A dealer is a person who buys and sells firearms, either at wholesale or retail.
Determine if you meet the basic requirements. You must be 21 or older and not be addicted to any controlled substances. You cannot be an illegal alien, someone who was dishonorably discharged from the armed services or have renounced your citizenship. You cannot be subject to a restraining order. You cannot be mentally defective or committed to a mental institution. You do not qualify if you were convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year in prison.
Research California gun regulations. The FFL is issued through a federal agency, but to get one you must be in compliance with California state laws. California, just like all other states, have their own regulations on the possession and ownership of firearms. Federal regulations affect gun dealers and manufacturers of firearms and ammunitions.
Download the application forms from the ATF website. Fill out the forms. Remember that you are not allowed to start conducting business until you have the FFL and your are in compliance with all California regulations.
Complete all the forms required for the FFL application. Take a 2" by 2" passport photo and bring the fingerprint card to your local law enforcement office for fingerprinting. The local police department in your neighborhood will take your fingerprints.
Satisfy all local codes and ordinances in addition to California statutes. The application materials require you to certify that you are in compliance with all applicable local laws. You are responsible for items such as zoning regulations, sales tax payments and the proper insurance for your business. The ATF may inspect your records and your place of business.
Mail the application and fees to the ATF. Deliver one copy to the chief of police in the California town where the business will operate. If your business will manufacture weapons or munitions, there are additional forms required to support your application. ATF forms 5000.29 and 5000.30 are required if your business may release a discharge in navigable waters. An example is a factory that releases a chemical byproduct into a river that is large enough to support boating and other travel.
Grayson Charles has been writing and editing since 1986. He enjoys writing technical articles in the areas of government, law, public policy, computers and the impact of the Internet on society. He was previously a freelance writer for "Panacea Magazine." Charles holds a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the State University of New York at Albany.