New York - Supreme Court Guns

This is a 9mm semi-automatic handgun being prepared for a shooting demonstration at a gun range.

(The Center Square) — New York’s newly enacted restrictions on firearms in places of worship violate the constitution, according to a new legal brief filed by the Second Amendment Foundation in a case challenging the state’s new gun control laws.

The brief, filed in the Second Court of Appeals by the Second Amendment Foundation, urges the court to uphold a decision by the lower court in a lawsuit that blocked New York’s restrictions against firearms in churches, synagogues and other places of worship. 

In the court filing, lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case -- Reverend Jimmie Hardaway, Jr. and Bishop Larry Boyd -- say the new restrictions have "stripped" them "of the right to bear arms in order to defend themselves and their congregations." 

"The state has decreed that 'any place of worship or religious observation' is a 'sensitive location' where ordinary, law-abiding citizens can no longer carry firearms for self-defense, even if a church or place of worship otherwise would authorize the practice," they wrote in the 51-page brief. 

In October, U.S. District Judge John Sinatra issued a temporary restraining order against the state of New York from carrying out the law while the court fight proceeded.

"The nation's history does not countenance such an incursion into the right to keep and bear arms across all places of worship across the state," Sinatra wrote in the 40-page ruling. "The right to self-defense is no less important and no less recognized at these places."

In a legal brief in support of New York's appeal, 18 attorneys general representing Democratic-run states wrote the restrictions on carrying firearms in places of worship, is part of a "long tradition of states restricting firearms in sensitive places based on the needs of their population." 

"It safeguards the exercise of constitutional rights, it protects vulnerable populations, like children and the elderly, and it guards against the heightened risk of injury, both physical and psychological, that can arise when firearms are used in crowded, confined spaces," they wrote. 

The lawsuit is one of many legal challenges to New York's strict new gun control policy enacted after a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year overturned previous restrictions. 

Last year, the high court's landmark decision in the N.Y. State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen case struck down a New York law requiring applicants to show “proper cause” to get a permit to carry a firearm.

The court's conservative majority affirmed the constitutional right to carry firearms in public places for self-defense, which has prompted reviews of firearm licensing laws in New Jersey and other states that heavily restrict gun ownership.

But the ruling prompted New York and other Democrat-led states to tighten their gun laws to further restrict firearm carrying, which spurred other legal challenges from Second Amendment groups.

Alan M. Gottlieb, the foundation's founder and executive vice president, said New York is "trying to get around the high court’s Bruen ruling and the Constitution at the same time" with its restrictions on firearms in churches in other locations. 

“After the Supreme Court struck down New York’s unconstitutional gun control law, the Legislature replaced it with an even worse scheme which declares places of worship or religious gatherings as ‘sensitive places’ where carrying firearms for personal protection is prohibited," he said in a statement.