Jewish gun club looking to sue over New York's new carry laws

David Duprey

At this point it’s hard to keep track of all of the new legal filings in the state of New York since the Supreme Court handed down its decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, but it sounds like there’s at least one more lawsuit on the horizon.

Tzvi Waldman, who founded the New York State Jewish Gun Club, says new restrictions on the right to carry put in place since the Bruen decision was released “flies in the face of logic,” pointing specifically to the blanket ban on concealed carry in houses of worship, which he calls “ridiculous.”

In an effort to block this legislation, Waldman said he is working with “various Second Amendment rights organizations.” He would not mention specifics, saying that it is still “in the works.”

section on the club’s website says that it is “looking for plaintiffs who have a clean criminal and mental background to join a lawsuit.” The site also has an option to download a sign or have one mailed that says “Concealed Carry Is Welcome Here.”

“Thank you for keeping our children safe,” the sign says. “May Hashem [God] continue to watch over us.”

I don’t know if Waldman is hoping to challenge just the prohibition on carrying in places of worship or if his plans are to go after more of the new infringements on the right to bear arms that the state’s Democratic legislative majority has put in place, but I wish him well.

I do agree that private property owners have the right to ban guns from their property if they want to, but New York’s law mandates that many publicly accessible places must be gun-free zones, including churches, synagogues, and other centers of worship… even if the congregation wants armed citizens inside.

Waldman contends that by making places of business put up signs about guns, it is forcing them to declare their political identity. “People want to protect themselves,” he said. “This is not helping our political divisiveness. It’s just going to accelerate that in this country. It’s only going to cause more problems for businesses.”

Waldman added that he has “a couple thousand posters on order” and is planning to get them out to more stores.

Rabbi Aron Lankry, who heads Yeshiva Yoreh Deah in Monsey and has attended events held by Waldman’s gun club, told the New York Jewish Week he is worried about Hochul’s legislation because members of his synagogue, Ohr Chaim, volunteer as armed security for his congregation.

“A hired gun won’t be able to identify who belongs and who doesn’t,” Lankry said, referring to a security guard. “A fine gentleman who is not familiar with the rituals and customs of the synagogue, a shooter is going to walk right through him.”

Lankry added that if Hochul’s law makes it harder for private citizens to carry guns for protection in a synagogue, then her administration “will have to carry the onus and the burden of the next attack because it’s only a matter of time.”

Lankry raises one concern, but there’s also the fact that many smaller congregations and those in rural areas are going to be hard pressed to pay for hired security or even find “hired guns” willing and able to serve as security.

Interestingly, Lankry’s synagogue and yeshiva boasts its own gun range where members of the congregation can get training from certified firearms instructors like Shlomo Reichberg, a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces.

“People are very scared,” Reichberg said, adding that Monsey residents began noticeably arming themselves after a man went on a stabbing spree at a rabbi’s home on Hanukkah in December of 2019. One victim, aged 72, died of his wounds. One month after the knife attack, requests for gun permits and sales of firearms rose in heavily Jewish areas of Rockland County and bordering northern New Jersey, NorthJersey.com reported.

“There seems like there is a lot of gun ownership” among Orthodox Jews in Monsey, Reichberg said. “But I wish there were more people.”

Clearly Kathy Hochul and New York’s Democratic lawmakers don’t share Reichberg’s point of view. They’re still doing everything they can to prevent law-abiding New Yorkers from bearing arms in self-defense, and unfortunately it’s going to take more lawsuits to force them to comply with the Constitution. In the meantime, plenty of good folks are going to be placed at greater risk… especially with New York still taking a hands-off approach to dealing with violent criminals like the man who tried to attack the state’s Republican candidate for governor on Thursday.