On December 29th, Judge John Sinatra, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York took aim at New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act. Recently, the state attempted to pass sweeping legislation that would have banned gun owners from carrying a firearm in church, even by those who possess a legal permit. Such a ban would have forced New York citizens to make an impossible choice between sacrificing their First or Second Amendment rights.
Michael Spencer, a pastor at His Tabernacle Family Church, filed suit in November arguing that the law was unconstitutional. Pastor Spencer possesses a concealed carry permit and regularly carries a firearm at his church consistent with his “view of the Christian scriptures and what they say about a pastor’s role” in defending his congregation. Pastor Spencer also allows licensed members of his congregation to carry as well.
New York isn’t the only state to target citizens’ First and Second Amendment rights. Earlier this year, PT1st reported on the consequences of California’s AB 2571, a law prohibiting the marketing of firearms or related products in a manner that “reasonably appears to be attractive to minors.” While the law sounds sensible, its broad sweep has put innocent youth sporting groups in its crosshairs by blocking them from advertising to interested youth. The law curtails such a tremendous amount of speech that it could mean the death of some sports and sporting groups entirely.
In his opinion, Judge Sinatra struck two birds with one stone, ruling that the CCIA violates both the First and Second Amendments of the Constitution. He writes, “Ample Supreme Court precedent addressing the individual’s freedoms under the First and Second Amendments to the Constitution dictate that New York’s new place of worship exclusion is unconstitutional.” He further adds, “the Nation’s history does not countenance such an incursion into the right to keep and bear arms across all houses of worship across the state. The right to self-defense is no less important and no less recognized at these places. The Constitution requires that individuals be permitted to use handguns for the core lawful purpose of self-defense.”
PT1 commends Judge Sinatra on his boldly articulated defense of our fundamental Constitutional rights. We look forward to further developments in this case.