The owner of a Lower Merion gun store has followed through on his threat to sue the township for trampling on his constitutional right to sell firearms. 

Grant Schmidt is the founder of Shot Tec LLC, holds a federal firearms license (FFL) in Bala Cynwyd, and provides training in the use of firearms. He also sells guns and other equipment through his website. For more than a year, he has been embroiled in a major controversy in the community and fighting a group of residents who are trying to block him from doing business — or run him out of town completely.

According to court documents, Schmidt, Shot Tec, and Firearms Owners Against Crime — Institute for Legal, Legislative and Educational Action (FOAC-ILLEA), a pro-gun PAC, are suing Lower Merion Township for enacting an ordinance that prohibits Schmidt from operating out of his current location at Montgomery and Bala Avenues. He has plans to open a second, larger location in the future, but Lower Merion’s new law could hamper that move.

The ordinance, passed unanimously by the board of commissioners in April, restricts where guns can be sold throughout the township by limiting sales to only four commercial districts. It also bans sales and transfers from people’s homes. 

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Schmidt says this is illegal. In court filings, he cites a section of the state’s Uniform Firearms Act: 

“No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms…”

During township meetings, residents have taken aim at Schmidt’s business for trying to arm members of Bala Cynwyd’s largely Jewish community who are disproportionately affected by gun violence. An online petition has garnered more than 2,000 signatures condemning Shot Tec, primarily for its proximity to several schools in the area. Schmidt, who is Jewish, said that schools, synagogues and other places targeted by antisemitic attacks ought to be prepared for the next one. 

“If you’re faced with the same attackers from Columbine, the Tree of Life synagogue, Parkland — you name it — what are you doing differently? Because you can’t do the same thing and expect different results,” he said. “And if people’s solution is, ‘oh, we’re gonna give Shot Tec a hard time,’ they are not serious. I am the solution to the problem. I am not the problem.” 

Reached by phone, Lower Merion Township Board of Commissioners President Todd Sinai said he couldn’t comment on pending litigation.

Schmidt is seeking injunctive relief in the form of a court order declaring the township’s FFL ordinance unlawful and for the township to pay his legal fees. An August court date has been set for a preliminary hearing.

Jenny DeHuff has been a multimedia journalist for the past 15 years in Philadelphia. Her bylines include the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, Playboy Magazine, The Morning Call, and Philly Voice. She’s won multiple awards for investigative journalism. @RuffTuffDH

14 thoughts on “A Lower Merion gun shop owner is suing the township over restricting gun sales”

  1. I often wonder what part of “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” in the Second Amendment do so many people not understand.

    1. Nice GOP talking point. I wonder what part of “well regulated militia” so many people don’t understand.

      1. Here’s the part of “well regulated militia” that you don’t understand:
        In the late 18th century most families were well armed. The Founders anticipated that from time to time the community would have to come together to defend itself, against, say, terrorist organizations like BLM, Antifa … you know, the modern day military divisions of the Democrat Party.

      2. Militia means citizens defense against a rogue or tyrannical government. The US military defends the government.

  2. Another case of big government Republicans trampling on the rights of local municipalities to decide what’s best for their own community. What else is new?

  3. It is amazing how easily people fall for propaganda from the US Government and the media about guns and the “problem” of guns in the US. Gun control supporters’ claim that there are fewer motor vehicle traffic accident deaths than the grand total of firearm suicides, criminal homicides, self-defense homicides, law enforcement homicides, and accidental deaths – which is a silly “apples-to-oranges” comparison.
    Suicides accounted for the largest share of gun deaths in 2022. According to the CDC data, 26,993 people died by gun suicide last year, accounting for 56 percent of all gun deaths. A total of 19,592 people died in the US by gun homicide in 2022, accounting for 41 percent of gun deaths. That amounts to a 6.5 percent drop from 2021. A direct comparison of accidents to accidents alone, motor vehicle traffic accident deaths outnumber firearm accident deaths by 83 to one, and those involving firearms have decreased at a faster rate than those involving motor vehicles. As in years past, people of color bore the brunt of gun homicide in 2022, while white people were disproportionately affected by gun suicide. More than a third of gun homicide victims last year were Black males between the ages of 15 and 34, a group that accounts for only 4 percent of the population. Meanwhile, white males between the ages of 55 and 74 accounted for nearly a quarter of gun suicide victims in 2022, more than any other group. But gun suicides rose 4 percent between 2021 and 2022 among Black people, a group that doesn’t typically have high gun suicide rates.

  4. Regarding the issue of “well-regulated militia.” This actually refers to all citizens who would be able to serve in armed forces. In the time period of its writing, the drafters were very familiar with this concept, it forms the historical context for the National Guard (which in the 19th Century was often organized as a state militia) and later as one of the justifications for a national conscription. Every citizen a soldier. As far as Republican AND Democrats trampling on communities deciding what is best for them. That argument does not recognize that the right to determine what is best comes with the duty to see what is best does not abrogate the rights of the minority in that community. It most often is expressed as “I want what I want when I want it and the Hell with everybody else.”

  5. When did Shot Tec LLC begin operating as a business? How long has it been a fully-operating business?
    And in all that time, does there exist any proof of a crime (or any crimes) being committed that involved firearms purchased at Shot Tec?

    Asking for an inquisitive friend~

    1. Would you hold a car dealership liable for the post-sale crimes committed by one of its customers, such as drunk driving?

  6. It seems on April 19th, 2023, the Township amended the zoning code specifically to prevent this business from continuing to operate at their current location. It is important to note that currently people cannot simply walk in and purchase a gun at this business location anyway. Weapons are offered through their website. Nor do they have a showroom. In 2015 Lower Merion tried enacting an ordinance banning guns in parks and that ordinance was struck down in the courts. I guess Lower Merion officials think this ordinance is different, and not an example of “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable treatment” by a local zoning ordinance? It seems to me that Spot Tec’s first mistake was not realizing Hot Yoga types would freak out and simultaneously be delighted to find a new purpose of meaning in their lives so they could bully someone while adorned in their own righteousness. Children are not going in there to buy guns like a vape shop. Totally ridiculous.

  7. It would seem to me that with all the gun laws on the books the number of deaths by guns would be in decline. I’m not going to address the lead off story presented here about gun violence stats. Since we seem to be guided by data what I would like to know is how many shootings and gun deaths, excluding suicide, have been committed by licensed, registered, legal gun owners in Philadelphia since the pandemic stopped? Laws are only as effective as the people following them. Hmmmm seems to me we should be discussing criminal control instead of gun control.

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