Most of New York's post-Bruen carry laws are back in effect, at least temporarily

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Last week, U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby put a halt to the enforcement of many of the provisions in New York’s Concealed Carry “Improvement” Act, granting an injunction requested by plaintiffs who are challenging the constitutionality of the new law. Late yesterday afternoon, however, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals stayed Suddaby’s ruling, which means the CCIA is once again in effect, at least temporarily.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals issued the temporary injunction while a legal challenge filed by a Second Amendment-rights group makes its way through the courts.

“Defendants-Appellants seek a stay pending appeal, and an emergency interim stay, of the preliminary injunction issued by the district court on November 7, 2022,” Tuesday’s ruling states. “IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that a temporary stay is granted pending the panel’s consideration of the motion.”

“New York has once again defied the Constitution and the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision,” GOA Senior Vice President Erich Pratt said in response to Tuesday’s ruling. “And this brings us just one step closer to standing before SCOTUS, where we know that Justice Clarence Thomas is waiting to slap down NY lawbreakers once again!”

That’s the hope anyway. But in the meantime, New Yorkers who are hoping to exercise their right to bear arms in self-defense are understandably frustrated by the on-again, off-again status of the CCIA.

There is one bit of good news, however. While Suddaby’s injunction has been stayed, it looks like there’s still one portion of the CCIA that is enjoined from being enforced at the moment: the ban on concealed carry in houses of worship. Remember, there are about a half-dozen different lawsuits underway in New York, and in a case called Hardaway v. Nigrelli, U.S. District Judge John Sinatra, Jr. granted a request by plaintiffs to halt enforcement of that particular segment of the CCIA.

If New York gets its way, however, even that portion of the post-Bruen gun laws will be halted, and churches, synagogues, mosques, and other worship centers will once again be (mostly) “gun-free zones.”

I say “mostly” because in New York’s request attorneys claim that the state is only asking for a “limited stay” that would still allow “firearms to be carried by other persons who have been tasked with the duty to keep the peace at places of worship or religious observation.”

That would appear to allow worship centers to set their own rules on who can carry, since a pastor or rabbi could decide that any and all congregants who possess a concealed carry license can be tasked with keeping the peace during services.

As for the state’s argument that simply removing the prohibition on carrying in worship centers disregards the interest of worshippers who want to pray in a gun-free zone, I’d say it’s not the state’s business to interfere with the free exercise of religion. Remember, even if the statewide ban disappears, individual property owners and worship leaders are free to ban firearms from their premises, so anti-gun parishioners could still lobby their faith leaders to adopt a ban on concealed carry. Failing that they could go find another congregation that has declared property a “gun-free zone.” But demanding a blanket ban on the right to armed self-defense in houses of worship because some parishioners might get the willies about sitting in a church where there are concealed carry holders around is an egregious violation of both the First and Second Amendment rights of church leaders and those who attend services.

The bottom line is that things are still very much in flux in New York, but as Pratt pointed out, we’re working our way back to the Supreme Court, where hopefully justices will deliver the legal smackdown that New York deserves. I think justice will ultimately be done here, but a right delayed is a right denied, and relief can’t come soon enough for the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers whose rights are being denied them by the prohibitionist politicians in Albany.