Jewish gun owners sue NY - House of worship gun ban

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04 Oct 2022, 8:11 am

Jewish gun owners sue NY leadership over law barring firearms in places of worship

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Jewish gun owners in New York are suing the state’s leadership over a new law barring firearms in places of worship.

The lawsuit argues that the legislation infringes on the First Amendment’s protection of the free exercise of religion, and the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right to bear arms. Jewish congregants cannot freely worship if they are unprotected or fearful, according to the complaint.

Two Jewish plaintiffs, Steven Goldstein and Meir Ornstein, filed the case in New York’s federal Southern District Court of New York on Thursday. Goldstein filed on behalf of Congregation Bnei Matisyahu, a small, Modern Orthodox synagogue in Brooklyn’s Midwood neighborhood.

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James, New York City Police Department Commissioner Keechant Seewell and several local officials are named as defendants. The suit demands a trial by jury.

New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act went into effect at the beginning of last month, raising the requirements for carrying concealed firearms, including by barring guns in “sensitive locations” such as houses of worship.

A lot of people are very concerned because one of the main reasons why people decide to buy a firearm and to train is to be able to protect themselves, especially when they go to shul [synagogue],” said Tzvi Waldman, founder of the New York State Jewish Gun Club, which organized the suit.

Based in Rockland County, an area north of New York City with a large ultra-Orthodox population, the club provides firearms training and advocacy for Jewish community members.

“Shul is an integral part of especially the Haredi life, so a lot of people are concerned and a lot of people don’t want to be arrested,” Waldman said.

New York’s Democratic leadership announced the Concealed Carry Improvement Act on July 1. It came in response to a June US Supreme Court decision that overturned a previous state law requiring concealed permit applicants to prove “proper cause,” meaning a reason they needed the permit. The Supreme Court said the law implemented in 1911 was unconstitutional.

Hochul, whose state has relatively strict gun laws, called the ruling “a reckless decision removing century-old limitations on who is allowed to carry concealed weapons in our state — senselessly sending us backward and putting the safety of our residents in jeopardy.” Breaking the new law is a Class E felony, a serious crime, but the lowest level of felony


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