Federal Judge Rules New York Gun Ban Is Unconstitutional

A federal judge ruled on Thursday that New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act (CCIA), a law prohibiting worshipers from carrying concealed-carry weapons in churches, is unconstitutional. The judge sided with a church pastor in his challenge against the state’s concealed law.

According to court documents, Judge John Sinatra of the Western District of New York found that the CCIA violates the rights of worshipers and hinders the free exercise of religious beliefs.

Sinatra wrote in his preliminary injunction that the state’s new law violates the right of individuals to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense.

“Ample Supreme Court precedent addressing the individual’s freedoms under the First and Second Amendments to the Constitution dictates that New York’s new place of worship exclusion is unconstitutional,” Sinatra wrote.

Sinatra, a Trump-appointed judge, wrote that the law targeted the religious houses in ways it didn’t target business and private property owners.

“There is no evident justification for the view that secular business owners are more qualified than religious leaders to determine whether to allow armed self-defense on their property,” he said.

Sinatra’s ruling is the third ruling to find the provisions of the CCIA unconditional. A different judge ruled against it in Antonyuk v. Nigrelli, while Sinatra gave a previous ruling against the law in Hardaway v. Nigrelli.

However, the state could soon challenge the rulings in court in no time with one motion from Antonyuk already on its way there.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has not commented on Sinatra’s ruling. However, Ryan Gardner, the pastor’s attorney, celebrated the verdict.

Gardner noted that singling out the church for total disarmament demonstrates hostility towards religion and leaves them defenseless against violent attacks. Gardner added that the CCIA defies at least two recent Supreme Court rulings against New York.

Erin Murphy, a partner at Clement & Murphy, one of the firms that first filed the lawsuit, shared his satisfaction with the ruling in a statement.

“We’re pleased the court recognized that no American should be forced to sacrifice one constitutionally protected freedom to enjoy another,” Murphy said.

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