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Federal Judge Blocks NY Ban on Guns in Places of Worship

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

On Thursday, a federal judge blocked the state of New York from enforcing part of a gun control law that bans firearms in places of worship. 

The law, enacted Sept. 1, came in response to a Supreme Court ruling this year that struck down a law in the state that required permit applicants to show “proper cause” for carrying a firearm. This week’s decision is the latest victory in a string of lawsuits surrounding gun laws after the Supreme Court’s ruling. 


The Sept. law banned firearms in “sensitive” places, including places of worship. Townhall reported how a group of Jewish gun owners in Brooklyn, New York filed a lawsuit against it, arguing that it makes their community more susceptible to violent crime during worship and leaves them unable to defend themselves.

In addition, two church leaders sued, arguing that the law violates the Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. District Judge John Sinatra agreed with the church leaders in a 40-page ruling, according to Reuters. Sinatra issued a temporary restraining order against the state from enforcing the provision while the court battle continues.

Reuters added that Sinatra cited the Supreme Court’s decision from this past June in his ruling. 

"The nation's history does not countenance such an incursion into the right to keep and bear arms across all places of worship across the state," Sinatra wrote. "The right to self-defense is no less important and no less recognized at these places."

Townhall covered how the Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen came down 6-3 with Justice Clarence Thomas penning the majority opinion. Thomas wrote that the Second Amendment should not be treated differently than other rights outlined in the Bill of Rights:


The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self defense is not “a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.” We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need. That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self defense. New York’s proper-cause requirement 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. We therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

The Court’s landmark decision has paved the way for lower courts to strike down gun laws. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court vacated a Massachusetts gun law that imposed a lifetime ban on purchasing handguns for anyone convicted of nonviolent misdemeanors involving the possession of guns. The law included the need for a license to purchase or possess a pistol.


In Tennessee, a court ruled that public housing agencies are prohibited from including provisions in their leases that prevent tenants from having firearms in their homes. A three-panel appeals court made the decision unanimously, stating that such policies violate the Second Amendment.

And, a federal judge in West Virginia ruled that part of a federal law that prohibits the possession of a firearm with an “altered, obliterated, or removed” serial number is unconstitutional.

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