Federal Court Decision Leaves New York Religious Leaders to Decide If Congregants Can Carry Firearms

Amid an increase in bias incidents motivated by the Israel-Hamas, places of worship in New York must now choose whether to let congregants carry firearms while attending services, Jennifer Mascia reports for The Trace. The situation is the result of a decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeal to uphold several key provisions of New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act, which prohibits guns in “sensitive places,” including government buildings, bars, restaurants that serve alcohol, medical facilities, public demonstrations, and Times Square. According to the law, property owners decide whether to allow civilian firearms in their establishments. While some religious leaders believe that armed followers will provide an additional layer of safety, others are uneasy about allowing firearms into sacred spaces. The decision to halt the ban in houses of worship comes as the Gun Violence Archive reports that there have been at least five gun-related bias incidents motivated by the Israel-Hamas war since October 7.

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