Press Release, September 29

Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes.” Thomas Jefferson

Press Release: For Immediate Release

We filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York against New York state officials. We also filed an application for an emergency injunction to stop New York State from enforcing the aspect of the CCIA that designates places of worship or religious observation as “sensitive places,” where possessing a licensed firearm is prohibited and punishable with severe criminal penalties.

In passing the CCIA, New York State has expressed that legal carry in New York is okay, but not for those who observe religious rituals and customs. This law specifically targets religious people, by threatening them with arrest and felony prosecution if they carry their firearm while engaging in religious observance. In the lawsuit, Attorney Cory Morris made it clear that the CCIA does not target criminals, but rather seeks to criminalize religious observance while legally carrying a firearm. The law also leaves “religious observance” as vague and undefined, making it difficult to even understand what is prohibited by the new law. 

New York State wants religious citizens to choose between two rights; the right to practice religion freely as guaranteed by the First Amendment, and the right to carry a firearm as guaranteed by the Second Amendment. It does not leave any space for religious, law-abiding citizens, to simultaneously engage in both freedom of religion and the right to bear arms, without labeling them a criminal. This new law infringes on the First Amendment rights of legal gun owners, as well as the Second Amendment rights of religious people. 

The new law also violates the right to due process and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. According to the CCIA, individuals who lawfully possess firearms are treated more harshly when they are in a place where religious activity occurs. There does not seem to be a compelling government interest that can justify that lack of equal protection under the law for religious individuals. As Ameer Benno, one of our lawyers explained, “New York’s law prohibiting the carrying of guns in sensitive locations, particularly houses of worship, would not withstand the Supreme Court’s new text, history and tradition test. It seems to be the regulation of weapons in houses of worship were the exception, rather than the rule,” he said. “The State is never going to be able to establish there is a historical tradition of what they’ve done here. This is an unprecedented act of government overreach that not only violates the Second Amendment, but goes right to the heart of the First Amendment.”

“This is a prime example of how when a governor does not follow the rules and cites an emergency in order to pass laws quickly, it results in blatantly unconstitutional and discriminatory laws being passed,” Tzvi Waldman, founder of NYS Jewish Gun Club, says. “The legislative process was created to ensure that laws are sensible. Avoiding it for the sake of grandstanding creates vague laws that are hard to understand and impossible to abide by.” 

We trust that the Court will quickly strike down this discriminatory and unconstitutional law that specifically targets religious observance, restoring the rights of the New Yorkers who seek to enjoy the most basic freedoms enshrined in our Bill of Rights and recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Please help us with our legal costs by Donating to United Jewish Gun Coalition

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