New York judge blocks state ban on guns in places of worship

BUFFALO, NY (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked the portion of a New York state law that makes it a crime to carry guns in places of worship.

U.S. District Judge John Sinatra Jr. sided with two Buffalo-area clerics, joined by two gun rights organizations who had sued and sought a temporary restraining order to stop the law enforcement while the case continued.

Both sides are due to argue the case in court Nov. 3 as Sinatra weighs whether to go further and issue a preliminary injunction.

New York lawmakers rewrote state gun laws last summer after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state’s old system of licensing carrying handguns outside the home. Among the provisions of the new law was a ban on firearms in places of worship and other places deemed “sensitive”.

In his ruling, Sinatra said the state had failed to demonstrate the restriction was consistent with the Supreme Court‘s June ruling, and wrote that allowing people to carry guns in places of worship “would serve the public interest to promote self-defense in places”. of worship throughout the state.

Without it, Sinatra wrote, “the law creates a vulnerable population of participants in places of worship left to the whims of potential armed criminals who are in no way interested in following the law.”

The state had argued there was historic precedent for banning guns in places of worship, citing late 19th-century laws in Texas, Georgia, Missouri and Virginia. But Sinatra dismissed them as “outliers” that did not constitute a tradition of accepted prohibitions.

New York law faced other legal challenges. This month, a federal judge in Syracuse suspended several of the state’s new licensing rules for carrying handguns in public, including one that required applicants to provide information about their accounts. social media.

The state appealed, and about a week later, a federal appeals court allowed New York to continue applying the new law as it reviews the lower court’s decision.

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