Joe Veni’s neighbors in Brick, N.J., noticed how many people visited his house starting in 2012. “My one neighbor says, ‘What are you selling that everybody wants?’ ” Veni told NJ Advance Media from his kitchen table, which doubles as his sales counter. “I said, ‘An AR-15.'” Such semi-automatic rifles are legal in New Jersey with some modifications. When efforts in Congress to tighten restrictions on them fizzled after the Newtown, they became a hot commodity for firearms dealers like Veni. “I must have bought about 50 of them, and I had them all in my living room,” said Veni, whose home-based store is in a neighborhood of evenly spaced, modest homes with well manicured lawns. “People were coming in and out.”
Selling guns out of a home in New Jersey is perfectly legal, as long as proprietors are zoned for home-based businesses and have the proper state and federal paperwork — called federal firearms licenses, or FFLs. In fact, it’s downright common: There are 368 FFL gun businesses in New Jersey, and at least 140 operate from homes. The businesses run the gamut, from gun-club enthusiasts who help their friends with online transfers and background checks a few times a year, to home businesses that sell dozens of guns out of neighborhood homes every month. The number of those home-based gun businesses are steadily increasing as the number of gun shops in New Jersey grows at a faster rate than in any other state except South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida. Just five years ago, there were about 100 home-based shops, while today there are at least 140, according to NJ Advance Media’s analysis.