U.S. judge blocks New York from banning guns in church

FILE PHOTO - A sign similar to what is to be placed in the Times Square "gun free zone" is seen after a news conference with New York Governor Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams regarding new gun laws in New York, U.S., August 31, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Oct 20 (Reuters) - A federal judge on Thursday barred the state of New York, at least for now, from enforcing the part of a closely watched gun law that bans firearms from churches or other places of worship.

The ruling marks the latest victory for gun owners in a tug-of-war with the state of New York over its strict new statute, which as of Sept. 1 makes obtaining a license more difficult and prohibits firearms in a long list of "sensitive" public and private places. read more

Places of worship are among those places where guns were forbidden. Two church leaders sued last week, saying that such a constraint ran counter to the gun rights spelled out in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. District Judge John Sinatra agreed in a 40-page written ruling, issuing a temporary restraining order against the state of New York from carrying out the law while the court fight proceeds.

Sinatra cited a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that struck down New York's previous law, which barred individuals from carrying a handgun in public without proof of special circumstances. The top court found that the statute, enacted in 1913, violated the Second Amendment. read more

New York legislators quickly passed new rules on gun ownership which Sinatra, in his ruling, called "even more restrictive" than the law struck down by the Supreme Court.

"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. "The right to self-defense is no less important and no less recognized at these places."

The judge added that, based on the Supreme Court's ruling earlier this year, the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their lawsuit.

A spokeswoman for the New York Attorney General said the office was reviewing the decision and "considering our options in our ongoing efforts to protect New Yorkers and defend our common sense gun laws."

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Christopher Cushing

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