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Holladay residents get a chance Tuesday to weigh in on whether a home-operated firearms business should be allowed in one of the city's tree-lined neighborhoods.
This eastside Salt Lake County city's Planning Commission will consider Nelson Gardner's request to sell pistols and rifles from his home on a part-time basis to a select group of customers.
Reached Monday by phone, Gardner said he is applying for a federal license through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to sell firearms to close acquaintances and relatives. Gardner works a full-time job, and the business would be a sideline that would not involve "storing a bunch of firearms at my home."
"I'm not quitting my day job," Gardner said. "The idea behind this is to avoid having to go to a big-box store and to possibly get a better deal."
However, the concept has already aroused opposition in a city where home-based gun businesses are rare.
"This is a first for me," said Rick Whiting, who has worked as a Holladay city planner for the past four years.
"There's some serious opposition in the neighborhood," Whiting said, noting that neighbors have "lawyered up" and contacted the city with their concerns.
Those objections have the prospective business owner scratching his head.
"There are a lot of other people who do this," Gardner said.
Raymond Saunders is among them. For the past 17 years, the Clinton resident has run Sierra Guns part-time out of his suburban home in addition to being on active duty in the military.
"This year business is really good because it's an election year, and people fear that gun laws might change," Saunders said, noting that he conducts routine background checks during transactions, which can easily be done by phone.
"We carry a pretty good range of guns," Saunders said of the merchandise he keeps locked away in safes until a customer drops by. "We're a second or last resort for people who can't find what they want in their local store."
Sierra Guns is marketed online at sierraguns.com and also on ksl.com.
"It's not really that lucrative," Saunders said of the highly competitive Utah firearms market. "There are tons of home-based [firearms] businesses. I know of at least 10 in my area."
Holladay's Whiting said the city's planning board where land-use decisions, including home-based businesses, are considered is by no means the final hoop for Gardner to clear. He also must obtain his federal-firearms permit and a city business license.
"We have no [land-use] ordinance that prohibits firearms sales in the neighborhood," Whiting said.
Home-based firearms business in Holladay?
The Planning Commission will receive comments and consider the request during its Tuesday session beginning at 6:30 p.m., 4580 S. 2300 East, Holladay.