Earlier this week, a Holladay man got the thumbs up from a Salt Lake City planning commission to set up a home-based firearms business in his residential neighborhood.
The city’s seven commissioners all voted to grant Nelson Gardner a conditional-use permit to sell firearms; provided he squares things away with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“This is a first for me,” Rick Whiting, who has worked as a Holladay city planner for the past four years, told the Salt Lake City Tribune.
“We have no [land-use] ordinance that prohibits firearms sales in the neighborhood,” Whiting said.
And apparently, it’s not all that uncommon. According to Raymond Saunders, a resident in nearby Clinton who for the past 17 years has operated Sierra Guns out of his home, there are plenty of residential firearm retailers, despite the paltry profits.
“It’s not really that lucrative,” Saunders said of the highly competitive Utah firearms market, in an interview with the SLC Tribune. “There are tons of home-based [firearms] businesses. I know of at least 10 in my area.”
However, for Mr. Gardner it’s been an uphill battle, particularly with respect to wary neighbors who strongly oppose the idea of a gun store on the tree-lined, suburban streets of Holladay.
“The increase of firearms is an inducement to a spirit of violence,” Holladay native Scott Fisher told the SLC Tribune.
“I’m opposed to it dramatically,” he added.
Fisher’s joined by Pamela Urry, a Holladay resident and attorney, who delivered a petition signed by 18 of Gardner’s close neighbors.
“The sale of firearms should be a commercial enterprise only and not be allowed to creep into residential neighborhoods,” Urry told the SLC Tribune, noting that operating such a business on a secluded, dead-end street is neither necessary nor desirable.
Meanwhile, Gardner believes he is doing everything possible to assuage the fears of the opposition. He said he is only going to run the business as a part time gig and has pledge to keep inventory low, no more than 8 eight weapons on hand at a given time.
Additionally, he has agreed to forgo advertising publicly. All his business will be exclusively word of mouth and he will limit sales to a total of 10 per month.
“I know this is a very volatile issue,” Gardner told the SLC Tribune, “any time the words firearms and neighborhood come together, I know that if I had received a letter like my neighbors did that I would have been concerned as well.”
Yet, despite his best efforts to deal with the matter delicately, neighbors are angling to take legal action.
“There‘s some serious opposition in the neighborhood,” City Planner Whiting said, adding that neighbors have “lawyered up” and contacted the city with their concerns.
Where does it go from here?
Well, according Paul Allred, Holladay’s community development director, opponents could challenge the ruling at the City Council. If the City Council fails to reverse the decision, then those disgruntled neighbors can file a lawsuit and battle it out in court.
So, what are your thoughts? Are you in favor of residential gun stores?