WASHINGTON — A Mount Airy, Maryland, man’s wish to sell historic guns from his home has led to a heated debate in the town over whether it should be permitted.
“It’s been a hotbed of activity recently, [between] residents, pro and con, with regard to changing this ordinance,” Mount Airy Town Councilman Scott Strong told WTOP.
The man pushing for the change, Michael Wonsala, writes in his online petition that the ordinance would allow him to pursue his passion of firearm restoration, and would include doing appraisals and buying and selling weapons online from his Mount Airy home.
In order for him to do that, he has to get a federal firearms license, also known as an FFL, which requires town approval before he receives the license. At the moment, he can’t do that.
Wonsala in his petition says his effort is to allow his neighborhood to maintain its residential integrity while allowing people like him to pursue his passion. He also specified the parameters under which he would work — his business would be appointment only, shipped weapons would not be left at his door and he would secure all weapons on his property.
He adds that his proposal would have minimal impact on his neighborhood.
For Strong and the town government, this proposed ordinance is not a one-time special permit.
“[People] look at it at face value and think ‘Oh, this one individual wants to do this. It should be fine. I don’t have an issue with what he is proposing,'” Strong said.
But if this ordinance is passed, he adds, anyone with a federal firearms license could buy or sell guns from their personal residence.
“It could be done out of an apartment right across from one of the elementary schools. It could be done out of somebody’s basement. It could be done out of their shed.”
THE WAY STRONG EXPLAINS the gun sale permitting process, any adult without a criminal history can apply for a federal firearms license and go through a background check. If they pass, they could sell most kinds of weapons with a Class 1 license.
However, someone could then apply for a Class 3 license, pay a fee and be able to sell larger weapons, Strong said.
“So essentially, somebody could theoretically get their FFL, get a Class 3, and next thing you know, they’re selling machine guns out of their house,” Strong said.
“And that draws concern from me … it is not this individual saying ‘I want to sell this one type of weapon’ — it’s the next person that comes behind him and says he wants to sell AR-15s.”
Strong did not say how he plans to vote on the ordinance, but wants to know how the town feels about the proposal before it goes to a vote. A public hearing will be held at Mount Airy Town Hall at 7 p.m. Monday before the council makes its final vote on the matter.
Gun sales are currently permitted within the town, but not from private residences. Strong says gun shops are allowed in the downtown district.