Local churches sue New York State over gun law restrictions

[anvplayer video=”5139774″ station=”998131″]

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Several churches across the state are suing New York State over gun law restrictions.

This comes after Gov. Kathy Hochul and state lawmakers approved a law to limit where guns can be carried, including houses of worship. 

More than two dozen churches across the state and a Rochester-based non-profit Christian conservative political advocacy group filed this federal lawsuit and they said they want the right to be able to protect their loved ones at church.

“Looking at it from the perspective of churches who have security teams and since Sept. 1, no house of worship is allowed to have a firearm on the premise unless it’s a paid professional security team or its retired or active law enforcement,” Rev. Jason McGuire said. “That’s not something that many congregations have.”

Now many local churches are trying to push back.

“There’s 25 churches representing 20 counties across the state of New York and so it’s a pretty good spectrum of people from all the way in Niagara County to Kings County, so it really represents a state well,” McGuire said.

McGuire is the executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a non-profit Christian conservative political advocacy group named as a party on the lawsuit.

“All across the board, we’re hearing from churches in Erie County where there has recently been a just a tragic shooting out there,” McGuire said. “Churches there are concerned. We have churches all across the domination spectrum. Many churches didn’t want to come forward and go public for obvious reasons, but there is just a broad interest in this issue.”

Two Monroe County churches are also named along with several others in the region.

McGuire said the rise in threats against houses of worship and church shootings is a major concern.

“I tell you, if you look at what’s happening, even the FBI’s own statistics, it indicates that church shootings and church attacks are on the rise,” McGuire said. “The most recent data demonstrates that to us and so it really is important to us and the churches that I represent my community. In the last several years [I] have been putting in place volunteer security teams that are often armed that allows those folks to carry concealed, to protect the people in the pew.”

McGuire said that while there are exemptions in the law for certain people to carry, they don’t include trained volunteers.

“I think when whatever judge gets a hold of this, they’re going to look at this and say whenever Gov. Kathy Hochul climbs into the pulpit, she has an armed security detail present,” McGuire said. “Why am I denied that same self-defense? Why the people in our pews are denied the same privilege of protection that Gov. Kathy Hochul has?”

News10NBC did reach out to the two local churches named in the suit. One didn’t want to comment pending litigation. The other did not get back to us.

We also reached out to Gov. Hochul’s office. It said no comment on pending litigation, but it did give us more information on who would be exempt from this. You can see that list here.