Churches Defend Their Second Amendment Rights

BINGHAMTON – Having just lost – in walloping fashion – a Second Amendment challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court, you might have thought New York would want to take its time.

You might have thought New York would want to study the decision carefully.

You might have thought New York would want to gain input from across the political spectrum.

And the jurisprudential spectrum, which is different from the political spectrum.aYou might have further thought New York would want to gain input from all across New York.

Including from, say, those three westernmost counties in the Southern Tier.

You know. Those three whose names some in Albany can’t spell or pronounce correctly.

But, no, silly. You’d be wrong, perhaps because those in charge in New York aren’t exactly fans of the Second Amendment properly understood.

So when it comes to gun control, it’s often “full speed ahead.”

Which is exactly what New York did after losing New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen in the U.S. Supreme Court on June 23, 2022.

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Let’s back up.

Committed supporters of the Second Amendment are among the country’s best informed and most articulate constitutional laity.

For starters, but only for starters, they know the Second Amendment by heart: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

For an explanation of how and why the Second Amendment protects an individual’s – yes, an individual’s, not just a militia’s – “right to keep and bear arms,” read however much you need to read of the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, written by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

For an explanation of how and why the Second Amendment limits the power of not only the federal government but also the power of state governments, read however much you need to of the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago, written by Justice Samuel Alito.

Then read however much you need to of New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, written by Justice Clarence Thomas.

Thomas summarizes the holding in the first paragraph: “In (Heller and McDonald), we recognized that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect the right of an ordinary, law-abiding citizen to possess a handgun in the home for self-defense. In this case, (we) hold, consistent with Heller and McDonald, that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.”

New York State Rifle and Pistol Association has the detail not of a judicial opinion but of an extraordinarily well-researched law-review article. It leaves the reader wondering who at the court had not just the time but the knowledge to write it. Whoever did this has provided a tremendous service to the Constitution.

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Speaking of service to the Constitution, enter the plaintiffs in Bleuer v. Bruen with their challenge to New York’s new, post-New York State Rifle and Pistol Association law.

The plaintiffs are churches, members and officers of the churches, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedom, and its able executive director, the Rev. Jason McGuire.

Their challenge was filed by Drs. David Seiling and Sheldon Boyce Jr., both of Honeoye Falls, on Oct. 4 in the Binghamton-based United States District Court for the Northern District of New York.

According to the complaint:

¯ “New York has attempted to classify all ‘places of worship or religious observation’ as sensitive locations at which the law-abiding church-goers may not keep or carry firearms, rifles, or shotguns, regardless of any permit or license they may hold, unless excepted by (New York) Penal Law.”

¯ Including “the vague and overbroad terms ‘places of worship or religious observance’ as sensitive locations (violates) the Second and Fourteenth Amendments.”

¯ “New York has not (offered) and cannot offer any relevant historical support for the abrogation of the rights of churches or their members and officers to protect themselves and their congregations by the lawful carrying of firearms, rifles, or shotguns.”

¯ “Additionally, any other category under (New York penal law) which would, or could be interpreted to, convert a place of worship into a sensitive location (e.g., nursery schools, playgrounds, etc.) under some other category of (New York law) is unconstitutional as applied to the plaintiffs.”

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To be sure, this challenge isn’t the only challenge to New York’s new law, or even the only challenge by churches.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Randy Elf’s speech to the 2018 New York Conservative Political Action Conference, with an introduction by Jason McGuire as Livingston County Conservative Party chairman, is at https://works.bepress.com/elf/175.



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