Hi all. There is a lot of misinformation on this topic. So hopefully I can give a comprehensive answer, since I just got a home based FFL in CT.
First, let me say one thing. And I will keep hammering it again, and again, and again.
Getting zoning approval is the ONLY think standing between you and a home based FFL. Zoning, Zoning, Zoning.
The ATF is more than happy to give you an FFL for a home based business, provided you have zoning approval from your town.
How strict is the ATF about this? So strict that despite the fact that I included my zoning permit in with my FFL application packet, they STILL went to my Town Hall and pulled an original of the permit for their records.
So . . how does one go about getting zoning approval? Well, just like its best to know the law prior to applying for a pistol permit, its best to know your town's zoning regs prior to applying for a zoning permit.
If your town's zoning regs have language that allows a "Customary Home Occupation", then you are home free.
A customary home occupation, as defined in the regs, could be anything. Provided that it has minimal impact on your neighborhood. The regs typically limit:
2) the use of hazardous materials
3) the creation of dust, noise, or anything else that may adversely affect the residential nature of your neighborhood.
4) foot and car traffic
5) customer and employee parking
6) the parking of equipment outside
In my case I referenced the reg allowing a Customary Home Occupation in my zoning permit application, and showed how in every way, my business would fit in with both the spirit and the letter of the law. Simple.
My Zoning Enforcement officer (ZEO) didn't like it, but there was nothing she could do. I was 100% compliant.
If your town's zoning regs don't allow Customary Home Occupations, then you will have to do more homework. But most towns do have this language.
If my ZEO had refused to issue, I could have gone to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). This would have added time. These boards tend to side with the homeowner, so you will most likely prevail if you are within the spirit and letter of the Customary Home Occupation language.
In my case, my ZEO wrote me a permit that had a restriction that limited me to 2 customer visits to my home per month. I'm fine with that.
Once you have a zoning permit, you are off to the races with the ATF.
At that point you should DEFINITELY invest in a 90 day subscription to the FFL123.com site. He will walk you through all the paperwork and provide materials to prepare for the ATF's visit.
Contrary to popular thought, the ATF ****WILL**** issue you a FFL if you don't have a storefront and do not have extensive business hours. In my case, my business hours run for 2 hours, one evening a week. This is not a formality. The business hours are when the ATF can come do a compliance review. The ATF understands that you may have no interest in actually running a store, with business hours out of your home. But they need a period when they can be assured that you will be available to do a compliance review.
They fully understand that with sites like Gunbroker.com, you can have a legitimate, thriving firearms business and never keep normal "retail" hours. So again, the hours are just for their use.
In all, the ATF was the easiest branch of government to deal with.
So now you've got your FFL. Are you done?
You now need to engage the CT DPS. There you will need to sign up to get your access code to the NICS check system. You'll also need to get a "permit so sell pistols and revolvers at retail" signed by your Mayor or First selectman, and submit that to them.
This requirement blindsided me.
If you can't get this signed, you are not dead in the water. You can still sell pistols and revolvers via gunbroker. You can still sell long guns at retail. But you can't sell handguns out of your home.
The next couple of sentences are speculative, because I didn't run into it: I believe the permit to sell pistols and revolvers grows out of the residential aspect of my FFL. i.e. if I had a store in a commercially zoned area, I wouldn't need this signed. I'm not sure about this. Either way. Its my opinion that you are better off bringing this to the Mayor/first selectman's attention AFTER you have your FFL. Then you can present it to him as a done deal. "Our zoning enforcement officer and the ATF have already signed off on this, this is just a technicality". YMMV
Once you have the state stuff. You are good to go. I'm sure this raises as many questions as it answers, so fire away.