Judge Blocks New York From Banning Guns in Churches, Says Law Unconstitutional

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
October 21, 2022New York
Judge Blocks New York From Banning Guns in Churches, Says Law Unconstitutional
A display of guns for sale at Coliseum Gun Traders Ltd. in Uniondale, N.Y., on Sept. 25, 2020. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

A judge has blocked New York authorities from banning guns in churches and other houses of worship, ruling that the state’s restrictions violate the U.S. Constitution.

There is “ample Supreme Court precedent” emphasizing an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, U.S. District Judge John Sinatra, a Trump appointee, wrote in a 40-page ruling. That precedent dictates that the New York law is unconstitutional, he said.

In New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, for instance, the nation’s top court said that restricting gun rights is permissible only if the restricting body proves the regulation “is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of sufficiently analogous regulations.”

“New York fails that test,” Sinatra said.

Sinatra imposed a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the law, which says that people cannot possess guns in “sensitive locations” like churches.

“We’re delighted with the quick action by Judge Sinatra,” Second Amendment Foundation founder and Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb said in a statement. “We believe this law to be wholly in violation of not only the letter but the spirit of the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.”

A spokesperson for New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, told news outlets in a statement the office was “reviewing this decision and considering our options in our ongoing efforts to protect New Yorkers and defend our common sense gun laws.”

The new law was enacted in July, about a week after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down New York’s restrictions on concealed carrying firearms.

The foundation filed the case on behalf of Bishop Larry Boyd and Rev. Jimmie Hardaway Jr., arguing the ban “goes far beyond any constitutionally relevant historical justification, especially as the ban extends to places of worship that would otherwise permit congregants to carry firearms.”

State lawyers had urged the court not to impose the restraining order, asserting plaintiffs had not proven imminent harm or clear likelihood of success.

Sinatra, the judge, disagreed.

“Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their Second and Fourteenth Amendment claim,” he said.

In addition to the Bruen ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller, McDonald v. City of Chicago show that Americans have the right to carry guns in public for self-defense, the ruling said. New York could succeed if it showed a historical tradition of banning guns from churches, but did not do so.

“Because the State has failed to meet its burden to identify an American tradition justifying New York’s place of worship or religious observation exclusion, the exclusion ‘violates the Fourteenth Amendment in that it prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms,'” Sinatra said, quoting from Bruen.

Absent a restraining order, plaintiffs’ rights would continue being violated, he said.

From The Epoch Times

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