Borough council voted unanimously last night to issue a permit allowing a local business to manufacture and sell firearms ammunition in Bridgeville—with a few conditions attached.
Fully Cocked Ammo is startup company run by Antonio Carosella, who also owns Pittsburgh Powder Coat on McLaughlin Run Road. He plans to use a portion of his powder coat building to assemble and sell “reloaded” gun cartridges—ammo that’s made by putting new bullets, new primers, and gunpowder into once-used brass casings.
Before Fully Cocked Ammo can begin selling to the public, however, Carosella needs a federal firearms license (FFL) from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Part of the ATF’s vetting process requires applicants to demonstrate compliance with local zoning laws.
Specifically, Carosella needed a conditional use permit fro Bridgeville, which grants him permission to run a small manufacturing operation in the borough’s mixed-use zoning area on McLaughlin Run Road.
Council approved the request with four conditions aimed at fire prevention:
- The business will install a hardwired smoke/fire alarm system linked to a central monitoring station.
- Prior to opening, the business will provide the Bridgeville Volunteer Fire Department with a floor plan allow firefighters access to the building as-needed, without prior notification.
- The business will hang signs indicating flammable powders are stored on site.
- The business will adhere to all other local, state, and federal regulations.
Unlike the highly explosive black powder employed in historical firearms (and in Wile E. Coyote cartoons), modern handgun ammunition uses smokeless powder, a substance that doesn’t explode unless it’s ignited in a space where gases can’t escape—like the inside of a gun cartridge. In an open spaces, it simply burns.
While the ATF regulates who can manufacture ammunition for retail sale, the agency does not dictate how—or how much—smokeless powder is stored at an ammo assembly facility. Those details are specified by state or local code.
Carosella said that his reloading operation would be small—basically him, a reloading press, and a few eight-pound jugs of smokeless powder.
One eight pound canister is enough to load approximately 2,200 AR-style rifle rounds or 8,000 9mm handgun rounds.
Reloading isn’t uncommon among firearm devotees and, most likely, Bridgeville already has few reloading set-ups in residents’ basements or garages around town. Federal law allows individuals to reload cartridges for their own use, but selling ammunition is illegal without an FFL.
ATF license approvals can take many months, but when Fully Cocked Ammuntion is up and running, the company will sell new, unfired ammunition, in addition to the reloaded rounds it manufactures on site, Carosella said last month at a planning commission meeting. The business’ license will permit it to sell firearms as well, but Carosella said that he doesn’t foresee gun sales becoming a component of Fully Cocked Ammunition’s business.
This is a pretty great time to get into the bullet business. For much of 2020, gun owners around the country have complained about an “ammunition shortage.” They say that either gun shops sold out of cartridges, or that the ammo that is available is selling at exorbitant mark-ups: