A federal court decision earlier this month blocked a ban on guns in houses of worship in New York. The ruling isn’t final, but it will remain in effect for at least the next several months — leaving religious leaders to make some tough decisions about whether to allow guns in sacred spaces.
“Houses of worship in particular are looked at as sanctuaries,” the Reverend Stephen Cady II, senior minister at Asbury First United Methodist Church, in Rochester, told The Trace’s Jennifer Mascia. “I think there is a loss of sanctuary, of safety, when you step into a place that is surrounded by those with weapons.” Armed civilians will not be part of the church’s security plan now that the ban has been lifted, Cady said.
But Pastor Joseph Mann, who leads Fellowship Baptist Church in the upstate village of Parish, said he plans to carry a gun in the pulpit because police response time in the rural town of about 450 people can be as long as 20 minutes, and he wants to prevent another Sutherland Springs. “When a gun attack takes place, it’s usually seconds,” Mann said.
The court ruling comes amid a rise in gun-related bias incidents motivated by the Israel-Hamas war. The most recent incident, on December 7, involved a man who fired a shotgun outside a synagogue in upstate New York.
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Police body cameras were supposed to protect both civilians and officers from violence. But ProPublica reports that the footage is rarely released to the public, even though the cameras are funded by taxpayers. In the meantime, police shootings continue. A former cop who is now a law professor said body cams are just the latest tech to try and fail to hold state power to account: “Tasers and pepper spray were supposed to solve undue force. We have this real, almost pathological draw to ‘silver bullet’ syndrome.” [ProPublica/NYT]
The Supreme Court refused to take up a challenge to Illinois’s ban on AR-style rifles, leaving the state’s ban in place. The law had been upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court in August and a 7th District U.S. Court of Appeals panel in November. Owners of rifles and handguns banned by the measure have until January 1 to register them with the State Police. [WTTW]
The Texas man accused of killing six people and wounding three others in an eight-hour shooting rampage from San Antonio to Austin on December 5 got his gun in a private sale. The 34-year-old former U.S. Army officer had active warrants, was out on bail for a domestic violence case, and would have been denied a gun purchase at a licensed dealer. He bought a .45-caliber gun from a private seller in July 2022. Nearly a quarter of gun buyers don’t get background checks, because of a gap in federal law. [Austin American-Statesman/The Trace]
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A Pennsylvania gun store owner believes he can alleviate the scourge of veteran suicides by positioning his Bethel Park shop as a safe haven for gun owners in crisis. Josh Rowe, a veteran himself, told former Trace fellow Laura Esposito that he knows from experience that when he feels depressed, he shouldn’t be around guns, but often there’s nowhere to take them. For a $20 deposit, gun owners can leave them with Rowe at Allegheny Arms and Gun Works, part of a partnership with the nonprofit Hold My Guns. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
Women who are shot are less likely to die than men, according to a new study. Researchers analyzed records of adult gunshot victims from the National Trauma Data Bank over seven years and found that women tended to be older than male victims, were more likely to be white, and more likely to have private health insurance. Women also benefit from having blood that clots more quickly, and the hormone estrogen, which boosts immune response. [Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open/BMJ]
The Gun Data Expert Who’s Changing the Way the Media Defines Mass Shootings: In June 2021, Mark Bryant, founder of the Gun Violence Archive, told The Trace the longest vacation he’d taken in eight years lasted about four days. “I’m desperate to go to a beach,” he said. “But I also think about when I was sitting in the hospital and decided I had one good job left in me. This is it.” Two years later, his outfit remains the only reliable resource counting every shooting in America. Bryant spoke to The Daily on Monday.