Two members of the clergy, working with gun rights groups, are seeking to strike down the Empire State's mandatory "gun-free zones" in places of worship. 

A federal lawsuit filed in a Buffalo courtroom this week names New York State Police Superintendent Kevin Bruen, Niagara County District Attorney Brian Seaman, and Erie County District Attorney John Flynn as defendants when it comes to a challenge to the state's new law banning lawful concealed carry in "sensitive places," namely churches. The plaintiffs are Reverend Dr. Jimmie Hardaway, Jr., of Niagara Falls, and Bishop Larry Boyd of Buffalo, both leaders of Baptist churches, in a suit supported by the Firearms Policy Coalition and the Second Amendment Foundation. 

The 23-page federal complaint says Hardaway and Boyd "are leaders of their respective churches, who wish to exercise their fundamental, individual right to bear arms in public for self-defense" but can't due to the state law that places their houses of worship under the sweeping list of places off limits when it comes to legal carry. The list was cobbled together by lawmakers in just a week after the Supreme Court struck down its "may-issue" concealed carry permitting scheme earlier this year in NYSRPA v. Bruen. While a lower court has recently signaled the new restrictions are likely unconstitutional, it left in place the church ban, at least for now. 

"Here is yet another example of the sweeping irrationality of New York’s hastily-slapped-together law, which was obviously written to allow the state to dance around the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling,” Alan Gottlieb, SAF's founder and executive VP, told in a statement. "One would think by now the state would have wised up and changed its law to comply with not only the letter of the high court ruling, but the spirit in which the decision was written."

Bill Slack, the FPC's legal operations director, said the ban was particularly off base in today's environment. 

"That New York would even consider, let alone enact, the pernicious banning of peaceable concealed carry in houses of worship goes to show how out of touch their lawmakers are with the rest of the population,” said Sack. "Particularly at a time when houses of worship have increasingly become the targets of unlawful violence, the idea that people should be disenfranchised of their right to protect themselves, simply because they choose to exercise their right to congregate, is grotesque and immoral."

The case is Hardaway v. Bruen.

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