Hochul Bends On Armed Security Ban In Houses Of Worship

ALBANY, NY—On February 1, 2023, Gov. Kathy Hochul released a budget proposal that made changes to the Concealed Carry Improvement Act (CCIA) that would affect New York’s houses of worship. Specifically, the proposal would recognize that unpaid security personnel at houses of worship are allowed to carry firearms. The CCIA attempted to limit the right to concealed carry at houses of worship to paid security and law enforcement officers; courts have found this attempted limitation to be unconstitutional. Rev. Jason J. McGuire, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, made the following remarks:

“Gov. Hochul’s proposal to recognize the right to concealed carry by unpaid security personnel at houses of worship is consistent with the court rulings that have been made to date in regard to the CCIA. It appears that the Hochul administration has tacitly acknowledged that the CCIA goes too far and that a course correction is needed. It makes sense for the Governor to cut her losses on this issue, as the courts have not looked kindly upon the CCIA and are unlikely to uphold a law that is so blatantly and aggressively hostile to New Yorkers’ rights under the Second Amendment.”

McGuire continued, “Only eight days after New York’s pistol permit law was struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States, Gov. Hochul signed the CCIA. The passage of the CCIA made it necessary for churches across New York to file lawsuits so that they could continue to protect themselves and their congregants. While it appears that those lawsuits have sent the Governor a message, churches should not have had to take legal action to defend themselves from this unfair and unconstitutional law in the first place.”

“While I understand that the risk of CCIA enforcement in a house of worship is minimal, I am not yet comfortable advising religious institutions that they are within their rights under state law to permit armed volunteer security details. However, I anticipate being able to do so when the State Budget is signed into law on or around April 1, 2023. Should that effort fail, the litigation will continue,” concluded McGuire.