After the Supreme Court struck down New York state’s restrictive concealed carry law in June, the Democrat-run state responded by swiftly passing a new law that imposed an even broader and more restrictive set of regulations on individuals licensed to carry concealed weapons.
One of the new restrictions was a complete ban on carrying firearms in “any place of worship or religious observation.” That provision was challenged by two pastors, and a federal judge just issued a temporary restraining order to block enforcement of that provision, TheBlaze reported.
This is the latest of several setbacks against New York’s Orwellian-named “Concealed Carry Improvement Act,” passed in the immediate wake of the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision in June, which seemingly purposefully sought to make it more difficult for law-abiding residents to lawfully carry a concealed handgun in public.
Ban on church carry challenged by pastors
Reason reported that the challenge against New York’s prohibition on concealed carry in houses of worship was brought by two black pastors with concealed carry licenses in the Buffalo area — supported by two pro-Second Amendment groups, the Firearms Policy Coalition and the Second Amendment Foundation — who, before this new law, consistently carried handguns in their own churches and had encouraged licensed congregants to do the same.
In support of the new restriction, New York argued that there was historical precedence for the ban — as is the new standard for review under Bruen — by citing a handful of laws from the late 1800s in four states and two territories.
Those examples were dismissed by District Judge John Sinatra, however, as being “outliers” of “unknown duration” that were inconsistent with the much broader historical tradition of allowing — and in some cases even mandating — for firearms to be carried for lawful purposes, such as the defense of self and others, in churches and other houses of worship.
No consistent historical analogs to support the church carry ban
In his 40-page ruling, Judge Sinatra wasted no time in noting, “Eight days after the Supreme Court struck down New York’s unconstitutional ‘proper cause’ requirement for conceal-carry licenses, the State responded with even more restrictive legislation, barring all conceal-carry license holders from vast swaths of the State.”
About Bruen‘s historical analog test, the judge wrote, “As set forth below, New York fails that test. The State’s exclusion is, instead, inconsistent with the Nation’s historical traditions, impermissibly infringing on the right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense.”
Further, it was pointed out that even most of the handful of old restrictions that New York had cited contained exceptions for those with a “duty” to “keep the peace,” among others, that would seemingly exempt the pastors from the state’s regulation regardless of if the provision were allowed to stand or not.
Ban on carrying in churches leaves people vulnerable to criminals who already ignore the laws
“Here, absent a TRO, Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights are being violated,” Judge Sinatra wrote in conclusion. “Law-abiding citizens are forced to forgo their Second Amendment rights to exercise their First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion, or vice versa.”
“And they are forced to give up their rights to armed self-defense outside the home, being left to the mercy of opportunistic, lawless individuals who might prey on them and have no concern about the place of worship exclusion,” he added.
As such, the judge issued the temporary restraining order that the two pastors had requested, which briefly blocks state enforcement of the challenged provision, while the court further considers whether to issue a preliminary injunction that would more effectively block the prohibition from being enforced, at least until reversed by a higher court or made permanent by the law being fully struck down.