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New York Religious Leaders Face Concealed Carry Questions After Recent Ruling

Earlier this month a federal court upheld several key provisions of New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act, which prohibits guns in “sensitive places,” including government buildings, bars, restaurants that serve alcohol, medical facilities, public demonstrations, and Times Square, The Trace reports. The decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals was heralded as a victory by New York Governor Kathy Hochul and state Attorney General Letitia James. But the court blocked some provisions of the act, including a ban on guns in houses of worship. Under the 2022 law, guns are prohibited by default in private businesses that are open to the public, like restaurants and stores, leaving property owners to decide whether to allow civilian firearms in their establishments. Houses of worship did not have that option.

"Now, houses of worship can choose for themselves if they will or will not allow religious adherents to carry a weapon lawfully on their property,” Jeremy Dys, an attorney who represents one of the plaintiffs, told The Trace. “They may choose not to carry personal weapons and elect instead to have security, that’s fine. But at least they are making that choice and not the government.” Aspects of New York’s concealed carry law, which state legislators passed in response to the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision, have been overturned and reinstated several times in the last year and a half as a result of lawsuits brought by pro-gun groups and residents. This latest ruling combines four similar cases in an effort to inject some stability into the process while challenges make their way through the lower courts, which could take months. In the meantime, New Yorkers may find themselves next to gun-toting civilians in the pews. While some religious leaders believe that armed followers will provide an additional layer of safety, others are uneasy about allowing firearms into sacred spaces. 


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