- Office of the Attorney General
Media Contact for AG Andrea Joy Campbell Joins Coalition in Support of New York Law Banning Guns in Places of Worship
BOSTON — As part of her commitment to combatting gun violence, Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell joined a multistate coalition of 18 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of New York’s law prohibiting the carrying of firearms in places of worship and religious observation.
The brief asks the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to reverse a lower court decision in Hardaway v. Nigrelli that barred enforcement of New York’s law prohibiting firearms in places of worship and religious observation. In its brief, the coalition of states argues that New York’s law is consistent with prior U.S. Supreme Court precedent, and that the district court’s decision enjoining the law undermines states’ authority to limit the possession and use of firearms in places where people exercise their constitutionally protected right to worship, like churches, synagogues, and mosques.
“Our leaders need to do more to ensure our residents feel safe from gun violence, especially in deeply personal places for worship and religious observation,” said AG Campbell. “My colleagues and I are urging the Court to reverse this opinion, and to recognize that states retain authority to protect these sacred spaces, so that our residents can continue to express their identity and practice religion without fear of violence or threat.”
The brief explains that although 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 Bruen 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 coalition also argues that places of worship are increasingly targets of gun violence, which may dissuade people from attending religious services and otherwise exercising their First Amendment rights.
In her inaugural address, AG Campbell announced her unwavering commitment to defend Massachusetts’ common-sense gun laws, and to advocate for safer and healthier communities across the state.
Under Massachusetts law, individuals are required to have a license to carry a firearm in public. Massachusetts law prohibits some applicants from receiving a license based on criminal history and other factors. For applicants not categorically prohibited from obtaining a license, Massachusetts police chiefs have the authority to deny an application or revoke or suspend a license to carry on a determination that the applicant is unsuitable because the applicant would pose a risk to public safety if licensed to carry a firearm.
Joining AG Campbell, in filing the amicus brief are the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.