A man who trains clients in proper gun use and safety was told Wednesday that he cannot sell the weapons out of his home.
Howard Slaughter, who lives on the East Side, approached the city about selling guns to his clients, but the Zoning Board of Appeals denied his request.
A neighborhood meeting was held last week, and about 30 nearby residents attended and were unanimously opposed to the idea, fearing an influx of guns into the community, Common Council Member Darius G. Pridgen of the Ellicott District told the board.
Several of Slaughter’s clients told him they didn’t feel comfortable buying a gun from other retailers.
“That’s why I got into this venture of acquiring my federal firearms license, to retail firearms,” Slaughter said.
“That way people in my community can come back to me and feel as though they’re making a wise decision in the purchase of a firearm and that they’re getting the respect they should get from a licensee.”
Slaughter’s intention was to purchase guns from wholesalers that had been picked out by his clients after they had researched them online.
The guns would be delivered to Slaughter’s Adams Street home and then sold to his clients, who hold pistol permits.
Slaughter said he would follow the same rules on background checks as other sellers.
As owner of a small business, Vernal’s Arms Sales and Safety Courses, Slaughter said that he is interested in educating people about gun safety and that he has nothing to do with illegal sales of firearms.
Two people who attended the neighborhood meeting supported Slaughter’s plan, but they didn’t live nearby, Pridgen said.
“I hold a pistol permit, but I didn’t think this was a great fit for the neighborhood,” he said.
Crime statistics for the area showed police calls for gun violence and break-ins, Pridgen said.
Board Chairman James A. Lewis III suggested that Slaughter secure commercial space in which to sell the guns.
“Once you had permission to have guns, that would open it up to all kinds of guns, even assault weapons, and there wouldn’t be a limit on that,” Lewis said.
The chairman recalled a robbery of a gun shop on Bailey Avenue that “flooded” the city with guns for years.
“You really are not protected,” he told Slaughter. “You need to get a secure location.”
The city does not allow firearms to be sold in residential districts, which is why a zoning variance would be required.
Slaughter was seeking his federal license to sell guns, which required that he receive local approvals.