Churches See More Success In Second Amendment Cases

Since New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act (CCIA) was passed in July 2022, multiple federal lawsuits have been filed by plaintiffs who claim that the law violates the right to bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment. The CCIA is dangerous for churches because it contains language prohibiting anyone other than law enforcement officers and paid security guards from carrying a concealed firearm in a house of worship.

In recent days, two different federal judges have issued preliminary injunctions barring enforcement of the section of the CCIA relating to houses of worship.

On November 4, 2022, U.S. District Judge John L. Sinatra Jr. issued a preliminary injunction in the case of Hardaway v. Nigrelli. The Hardaway lawsuit was brought by two Buffalo-area Black pastors seeking to defend themselves and their congregants from potential racially-motivated attacks. Their complaint cited the 2015 mass shooting at a Charleston, S.C. church that killed nine people. According to the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, Judge Sinatra’s preliminary injunction blocks the enforcement of the portion of the CCIA that makes it illegal to carry a concealed firearm in a house of worship. A few weeks ago, Judge Sinatra had issued a temporary restraining order preventing the enforcement of the CCIA. The preliminary injunction will remain in effect until Judge Sinatra makes a final decision in the case. Noting that Judge Sinatra has “appeared dismissive and openly hostile to the arguments being made by lawyers for the state” in this case, the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal predicts that the Judge will ultimately find the entire CCIA unconstitutional on Second Amendment grounds.

On November 7, 2022, U.S. District Judge Glenn Suddaby issued a preliminary injunction in the case of Antonyuk v. Hochul. Judge Suddaby found many provisions of the CCIA unconstitutional, including the provision banning concealed carry in houses of worship. The Albany Times Union described the preliminary injunction as a “legal setback for Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers, who quickly rewrote handgun licensing laws after the old ones were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.” Judge Suddaby’s decision is preliminary, not final; the Antonyuk lawsuit remains ongoing. The Judge previously issued a temporary restraining order in the case; that order has been appealed.