New York Democrats were dealt a major blow last week after a federal judge struck down one of the state's gun restrictions.
Judge John Sinatra presides over the Western District of New York. According to the Daily Caller, he ruled last Thursday that a ban on carrying weapons in church is unconstitutional.
The case was brought by Pastor Michael Spencer and His Tabernacle Family Church. They are challenging provisions of the state’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act (CCIA).
"Pastor Spencer and Church members have a religious belief that they, themselves, must protect the flock," Sinatra was quoted as saying.
"Ample Supreme Court precedent addressing the individual’s freedoms under the First and Second Amendments to the Constitution dictate that New York’s new place of worship exclusion is unconstitutional," the judge pointed out.
"But it does not ultimately matter whether he is correct that hired security—armed or not—would effectively protect the congregation," Sinatra stressed.
"Indeed, religious beliefs 'need not be acceptable, logical, consistent, or comprehensible to others in order to merit First Amendment protection,'" the judge concluded.
BREAKING: Spencer v. Nigrelli (W.D. NY): Judge Sinatra issues another preliminary injunction against New York's "places of worship" gun ban, this time saying that it violates both the First and Second Amendments. https://t.co/4UmcLFmhBv pic.twitter.com/vqQbOjZkBv
— Rob Romano (@2Aupdates) December 30, 2022
Erin Murphy is a partner at Clement & Murphy, which is one of the firms that represented Spencer in challenging the law, and he put out a press release welcoming Sinatra's decision.
"We’re pleased the court recognized that no American should be forced to sacrifice one constitutionally protected freedom to enjoy another," Murphy declared.
"Houses of worship have a constitutionally protected freedom to decide for themselves whether to allow legally possessed firearms into their facilities," he added.
Spencer was not alone in challenging the CCIA's house of worship restriction, as the New York Post reported in October that a Jewish in Midwood, Brooklyn congregation did so as well.
They are being represented by attorney Ameer Benno, who told the newspaper that the law was turning his clients into "sitting ducks," adding, "It’s not a myth that Jewish houses of worship are targets for hate."