Attorney General Tong Joins Coalition Supporting New York Law Banning Guns in Places of Worship
Coalition Argues That States have Authority to Protect Sensitive Places from Gun Violence
(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit to reverse a lower court decision that enjoined New York’s prohibition on carrying firearms in places of worship and religious observation.
In an amicus brief, Attorney General Tong and the coalition argue that the prohibition is consistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent and with a long tradition of similar regulations designed to meet the states’ responsibility to protect their residents from the harmful effects of gun violence. The coalition argues that states have an interest in limiting the possession and use of firearms in locations where people exercise other constitutionally protected rights, where vulnerable populations like children and older adults gather, and where large groups of people meet in confined spaces. Locations like churches, synagogues, and mosques are the heart of many people’s religious exercise.
The brief notes that they are also increasingly targets of gun violence, which may dissuade people from attending religious services and otherwise exercising their First Amendment rights.
“Guns do not belong in houses of worship. The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently affirmed the rights of states to prohibit guns in these types of sensitive locations, including most recently in the Bruen decision. New York has every right to adopt such common sense measures to protect residents from gun violence,” said Attorney General Tong.
The brief explains that though the U.S. Supreme Court recently altered the judicial analysis for Second Amendment claims in N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, the court’s decision did not upend the states’ long-standing authority to regulate the carrying of firearms in certain places. The court reaffirmed in that the Second Amendment has never given Americans an unrestricted right to carry loaded firearms in all public places. Instead, states may enact a variety of regulations to combat the problem of gun violence, including solutions tailored to local needs.
The brief was co-lead by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Attorney General for the District of Columbia Brian Schwalb. Joining attorneys general Tong, Raoul, and Schwalb in filing the brief are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
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