For the past several years, ATF has occasionally denied, or tried to deny, applications for federal firearms licenses in Arlington County. The agency’s position has been that Arlington’s zoning ordinance forbids retail sales from most home-based businesses. (ATF disregards the possibility that a home-based FFL might engage in a variety of business activities–such as gunsmithing, brokering activities, and taking orders for gun show sales–without conducting on-premises retail sales.)
Now, a Sun-Gazette report confirms that Arlington officials believe they don’t have the authority to prevent FFLs from operating in residential areas. That means ATF shouldn’t be able to use Arlington zoning rules to deny FFL applications. Indeed, double-checking ATF’s listing of FFLs against Google Maps shows several FFLs operating in residential areas.
The bottom line seems clear: At least some FFL business activity is legal in Arlington, and while current or would-be FFLs should be prepared for a fight, they also have strong legal arguments on their side.