Dozens of churches team up to sue NY over carry ban in houses of worship

While one federal judge has weighed in on New York’s new laws today, declaring that a blanket ban on concealed carry in churches is likely unconstitutional, another lawsuit specifically challenging the state’s designation of all worship spaces as “sensitive places” where guns can be banned is already underway.

Bleuer v. Bruen, filed on Tuesday in federal court, involves more than two dozen churches from across New York who argue that the state’s new requirement that all religious institutions be “gun-free zones” not only puts parishioners at risk, but violates their rights.

They contend many houses of worship, at the request of clergy and other church leaders, actually have groups of volunteers who have concealed carry permits and are prepared to defend other members of the congregation. This stems from shooting attacks at churches and synagogues around the country.

The group also says there have been instances in Texas and elsewhere where an armed member of a church congregation actually stopped someone shooting in a church.

Now they’re questioning why the state specifically in its law would only allow such protection by a trained certified security agency or active or retired law enforcement church members.

Rev. Jason McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said: “Under the written law as it’s written, that is not permitted. You have to be an employed professional security team, or you have to be active or retired law enforcement. That is something that not every church across the state of New York has or has the ability to hire professional security teams. We’re looking at oftentimes trained volunteer security teams, and the law does not allow for that.”

McGuire added: “Frankly there are people who didn’t want it to be known they were engaging in this. But there are congregants in churches sitting in the pews, sometimes they’re more formal than that, but they are armed for the purpose of being there to protect the congregation during morning worship services.

“You know every time the governor speaks in a church, and she’s done a lot of that lately, she takes an armed detail with her. We’re simply saying that the family sitting in that pew deserves the same protection that the governor is accorded when she goes into a house of worship.”

Most of us aren’t entitled to our own security detail, but Hochul doesn’t want New Yorkers to be able to protect themselves either. Pay for private security or be sitting ducks; that’s the choice she’s given to New Yorkers who want to attend services knowing that there’s someone on site who could shoot back if their sanctuary ever became the target of a deranged killer.

Sadly, as the lawsuit points out, attacks and hate crimes committed against worshippers is only increasing across the state; up nearly 35% between 2014 and 2018. Even if there zero incidents these churches, synagogues, mosques, and other houses of worship shouldn’t be off-limits to concealed carry holders, but the fact that the state is barring law-abiding citizens from exercising their right to self-defense in places that are increasingly being targeted shows just how much contempt Hochul and other Democrats really have when it comes to the safety of the general public.

Like the other lawsuits that have been filed, the plaintiffs in Bleuer are asking a judge for both a temporary restraining order as well as an injunction barring enforcement of the ban on guns in houses of worship. Last week a federal judge denied a similar request for a TRO requested by members of two synagogues in the state, claiming the plaintiffs had failed to show how they would be irreparably harmed unless enforcement was immediately halted. Today’s decision by U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby is also on hold to allow the state time to appeal, but I’m hopeful that soon this provision will be officially unenforceable. After all, it shouldn’t take someone getting injured or killed in one of New York’s “new gun-free zones” to keep these unconstitutional restrictions from being enforced against the state’s legal gun owners and concealed carry holders.