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Hobby becomes a business

Leroy Van Brunt has retired from the insurance business to focus on Lone Rock LLC, a licensed firearms transfer business.

Guns are a recurring theme in Leroy Van Brunt's office. On one wall, there is a frame that displays a series of bullets in different sizes. On another is a poster with the Second Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing citizens the right to bear arms. There is a Ziploc bag on his desk filled with large-caliber bullets, and Van Brunt holds one in his hands as he talks.

Firearms have been a nearly lifelong hobby for Van Brunt, but now they are the way he makes his living. After 40 years in the insurance business, Van Brunt is putting all his energy into Lone Rock LLC, a firearms transfer business he started a couple of years ago largely as a convenience for local NRA fundraisers, which needed a licensed transfer agent to hold weapons until the people who win them can clear a background check.

The business grew over the years as others found Van Brunt, so when he was ready to step back from selling insurance, he turned his attention to weapons.

Firearms transfer agents like Van Brunt are a necessary step for anyone who buys a weapon online. The weapons have to be shipped to a transfer agent, who holds it until the purchaser can prove he or she can legally own the weapon. Van Brunt doesn't have to handle the sale to act as transfer agent, but if someone is looking to order a firearm, Van Brunt has connections with half a dozen distributors.

For Van Brunt, the new business is a fun way to keep busy rather than a way to make a living. He was getting burned out on insurance, and his new business, which he runs by appointment only, gives him much more flexibility. He was able to travel to Indiana last month to attend grandparents' day at his grandchild's school. He's going to Texas this weekend to see family.

'I'm basically retired," Van Brunt said. "I just do this as a hobby. It can be a service for local people. It's a reasonable cost, and they don't have to run all over creation to find someplace they can transfer (their firearms)."

Most of the weapons Van Brunt handles are rifles, but he deals with a little bit of everything. As long as it's a legitimate firearm, he can transfer it.

There is a lot of recordkeeping involved in running the business. Van Brunt has to know where the weapons are coming from and where they are going. He's had one customer fail a background check, and he's heard from the FBI once looking for transfer information on one of the weapons he handled. He didn't ask for details, because he figured they weren't likely to share.

"You've gotta make sure everything is done exactly right or you'll be in deep trouble," Van Brunt said. "I don't need that at this time in my life."

Van Brunt has been around firearms nearly all his life. Growing up on a farm in southern Minnesota he enjoyed hunting. He bought his first deer rifle when he was in seventh or eighth grade.

"I know I was too young to buy it," he said. "My brother had to go down with me."

Van Brunt has been involved in the Dakota County Gun Club since it opened, and he competes regularly in cowboy action shooting, an event in which participants dress up as Old West cowboys and fire period-appropriate weapons. The rifle Van Brunt uses for competition is more than 130 years old.

"It's a fun hobby," he said. "It's like golf."

Now, his hobby just happens to be the way he makes his living.

To contact Lone Rock LLC call 651-402-0368 or email

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

(651) 460-6606