Judge's gavel

NEW YORK (TNS) — A three-judge panel of the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals is weighing whether New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act is constitutional.

The justices, during a hearing Monday, listened to arguments in four related cases concerning the CCIA, including one brought by Niagara Falls pastor Jimmie Hardaway Jr. of Trinity Baptist Church and others.

One of the three justices hearing the arguments suggested that whatever constitutional determination they make is likely to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We’re going to have to make a rule,” Justice Gerald F. Lynch said in discussing a challenge to a provision of the CCIA that requires private property owners, in particular businesses open to the public, to “make known” whether persons licensed to carry concealed weapons can bring those firearms into the property.

Pete Patterson, an attorney representing parties challenging the CCIA, told the justices that the “plain text” of the Second Amendment “gives a right to carry” to people entering private property.

“That’s what the plain text means?” Lynch asked, his voice rising. “I can’t tell you, ‘You can’t enter my home with a gun’?”

Patterson then agreed that Lynch could keep someone from bringing a gun into his home.

In the case of Hardaway and Rev. Larry Boyd, pastor of Open Praise Full Gospel Baptist Church in Buffalo, along with two national pro-gun groups, Las Vegas-based Firearms Policy Coalition and Bellevue, Washington-based Second Amendment Foundation, the justices were considering a challenge to a provision of the CCIA that bars individuals from bringing firearms into places of worship.

Hardaway and Boyd have argued that they would suffer irreparable harm, and that their Second Amendment rights would be violated, if the places of worship restriction was not blocked. In an affidavit accompanying the original lawsuit, Hardaway acknowledges that he is a member of the two pro-gun groups involved in the case and that he is licensed to carry a handgun in New York.

“Prior to the enactment and enforcement of the Place of Worship Ban, I would consistently carry a firearm on Trinity Baptist Church’s premises,” Hardaway said in an affidavit. “I would intend to keep carrying for self-defense and to keep the peace at Trinity Baptist Church.”

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U.S. District Court Judge John L. Sinatra Jr., of the Western District of New York in Buffalo, granted Hardaway and Boyd a temporary restraining order and then a preliminary injunction, blocking the enforcement of the places of worship restriction.

New York Attorney General Letitia James appealed Sinatra’s decisions to the Second Circuit and asked the appeals court to block his rulings.

A different panel of Second Circuit judges, other than the one that conducted Monday’s hearing, heard that request and issued a stay of Sinatra’s decisions, which effectively reinstated the CCIA and the places of worship restriction.

Hardaway and Boyd asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and overturn the stay; they argued that their rights under the Second Amendment had been “indefinitely suspend(ed).”

In January, the high court, without any noted dissents, allowed the stay to remain in place while the Second Circuit proceedings continued.

Much of the controversy over the CCIA centers on restrictions, approved by the New York State Legislature on places were people are permitted to carry concealed weapons.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in its decision in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, found that the bearing of arms could be restricted in so-called “sensitive places.”

Sinatra acknowledged that ability in his ruling, but said New York went too far in designating “sensitive places.”

“In Bruen, the (Supreme Court) made the Second Amendment test crystal clear: regulation in this area is permissible only if the government demonstrates that the regulation is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition,” Sinatra wrote. “New York fails that test. The State’s exclusion is, instead, inconsistent with the Nation’s historical traditions.”

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