A group of Jewish gun owners in the state of New York have filed a lawsuit opposing new legal restrictions on bringing firearms into places of worship.
The New York State Jewish Gun Club, a firearms club based in upstate New York funded and organised the lawsuit, claiming that a set of new laws signed by Governor Kathy Hochul infringes upon their religious freedom as well as their right to bear arms.
The lawsuit specifically targets the section of the gun laws that prohibits carrying concealed weapons into “sensitive locations”, including houses of worship.
A press release by the New York State Jewish Gun Club said: “New York State has expressed that legal carry in New York is okay, but not for those who observe religious rituals and customs,
“This law specifically targets religious people, by threatening them with arrest and felony prosecution if they carry their firearms while engaging in religious observance.”
The Concealed Carry Improvement Act was signed by Governor Hochul in July and was in response to a June Supreme Court decision that struck down New York’s strict concealed carry laws. The CCIA law adds multiple checks on gun ownership and prohibits concealed carry permit holders from bringing their firearms into schools, libraries, bars, government buildings, hospitals and houses of worship.
We must treat gun violence as the public health crisis that it is, and our work starts at the community level.— Governor Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) July 15, 2022
The work we’re doing across the state — from getting weapons off the streets to supporting violence interrupters — will help return these streets to our communities. pic.twitter.com/IW0yQwv4Gx
Tzvi Waldman, an Orthodox man who founded the gun club, told the New York Jewish Week that a judge denied the group’s request for a temporary restraining order to stop the enforcement of the law, but scheduled a hearing for later this month.
Waldman said, “I feel pretty confident in this case. People are concerned. This is a constitutional right and it’s extremely important to us.”
The lawsuit, filed on September 29 against the Southern District of New York, opens with a quote from Kings II in the Hebrew Bible.
“And the priest gave the officers of the hundreds, the spears and the shields that had belonged to King David, which were in the house of the Lord,” the passage reads. “And the couriers stood, each one with his weapons in his hand, from the right end of the house to the left end of the house, before the altar and the house, surrounding the king.”
The lawsuit also lists multiple instances of antisemitic violence, including a 2019 stabbing in Rockland County’s Orthodox Monsey neighbourhood, which led to a rise in gun ownership within the community. It also references a 2021 Anti-Defamation League report showing that New York had the highest number of reported antisemitic incidents in the country.
When Governor Hochul announced the new concealed carry law, Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado said: “New York is leading the way in the fight to reduce gun violence and save lives. We want to ensure that all members of our communities are safe, and these new conceal and carry laws will help prevent tragedies by ensuring that gun owners are properly trained, that safety measures are promoted and that firearms are not carried into sensitive locations.”
Last month, a national survey found that 77 per cent of Jewish voters believed gun laws in the United States are not restrictive enough.