NY Senator Wants to Exempt Amish from Certain Handgun Requirements

The stars from Discovery Channel’s “Amish Mafia.” (Photo: Discovery Network)

A state senator from New York has introduced legislation exempting members of Amish and Mennonite communities from being required to submit a photograph to receive a handgun permit.

Handgun purchasers in New York must first obtain a state-issued permit that includes photo identification. Because members of the Amish and Mennonite communities do not allow themselves to be photographed, Senator Catharine Young believes they should be exempt from the photo ID portion of the handgun permitting process.

“Currently, members of the Amish and Mennonite communities are unable to possess pistols or revolvers in New York without violating the tenets of their religion by submitting to the taking of a photograph which would also be used for identification purposes,” wrote Young, whose jurisdiction covers Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties, and includes a large number of Amish and Mennonite communities.

Instead of having their picture taken, Amish and Mennonite individuals would be required to submit a written affidavit confirming that their faith prevents them from being photographed.

According to the text of the bill, the two religious sects have received similar government exemptions in the past, including for labor requirements, school house building codes, and certain educational requirements.

SEE ALSO: NY SAFE Act Kills Gun Ownership for Amish

Two years ago an Amish man in Pennsylvania filed a federal lawsuit over this same issue, according to a report from The Gothamist. The man quickly dropped the suit, but he articulated precisely why members of his faith do not allow themselves to be photographed:

“The Amish faith prohibits an individual from having his/her photograph taken,” the suit read. “This belief stems from the Biblical passage Exodus 20:4, which mandates that ‘You shall not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth,’ as well as the Christian belief in humility.”

The Illinois General Assembly passed a similar bill in 2012. The Illinois version allows members of Amish communities to purchase firearms with a photo-less Firearms Owner ID card (FOID).

The New York bill is currently being considered by the Senate Rules Committee. Thirteen Republicans and 11 Democrats currently sit on the Rules Committee, and it is chaired by Republican Sen. John Flanagan.

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over two years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco.

{ 27 comments… add one }
  • Bob November 17, 2017, 10:56 am

    Yeah lets change the law so the Amish can get a gun without jumping through the same hoops the rest of are forced to do. The amish are people that live in the same country as us but they refuse to live by the same rules as the rest of us. They sight their religous beliefs that would not even exist in other countries. They enjoy the freedom this country affords them including the protection of our military that they won’t serve in claiming their religious beliefs. Apparently a gun doesn’t conflict with their religious beliefs. Enough of this nonsense. No more special rights for anyone.

  • Dave Hicks September 9, 2017, 8:20 pm

    Good grief. Every one is special so on one is .

  • Dan September 9, 2017, 10:43 am

    The Bible says a Graven image which means no one shall make an image of themselves, the sky, hill ,plant, animal or anything and worship it. Not that they shouldn’t take pictures of themselves. Thats man changing the meaning of the Bible to suit what they want

  • Willy September 8, 2017, 11:53 pm

    We have a community of them here, they know I have security camera’s pointed toward the road and they never try to cover their faces. I also see them in all the local stores which all have security camera’s and it doesn’t bother them. Without photos on the ID card how will the police know if they are sharing carry cards?

  • Rickey September 8, 2017, 7:13 pm

    No waivers for them. They try to use a part of the Bible about images which are in reference to false Idols. If they want to live in America and enjoy our freedoms, they follow our federal laws. We have the ATF, and State regulations for a reason, and it should apply equally to them as it does to a Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim. You want a gun, get your picture taken like everyone else. There is no written law that says they can’t commit a crime like any other human.

    • Every American September 8, 2017, 11:22 pm

      Sorry GOD trumps sate EVERY time
      Get a copy of the CONSTITUTION and READ IT!!!

  • robert moore September 8, 2017, 2:42 pm


  • Joseph Frechette September 8, 2017, 2:06 pm

    I wasn’t aware that the People’s Republic of Illinois was waiving the photo requirement on the state required firearm id.
    I live here in the PRI and now I am wondering why I have to submit a photo of myself if the Amish do not.
    This FOID was nonsensical before and now is rediculous.

  • Archangel September 8, 2017, 1:39 pm

    Hire an artist to draw them and use it in place of the photo!

    • Penrod September 8, 2017, 1:51 pm

      That would still be a ‘graven image, or any likeness of anything ‘.

  • ted September 8, 2017, 1:08 pm

    YUP, another misrepresentation of scripture by taking it out of context and making it say what you want it to say. Maybe they should read the part before that and after that. You know, the parts about not having other gods before me, and not bowing down to worship those images. Both of those verses bracket the quoted verse… That being said, i still hate the whole system of “permitting” that we have here in NY state..

    • Every American September 8, 2017, 11:25 pm

      Maybe you should LEARN something about the Amish and the Mennonites BEFORE running your mouth…

      Remeber what they say about the wor ass-u-me…

  • JDS September 8, 2017, 12:48 pm

    How about NY just follow what the second amendment says and stop violation of everyone’s rights. Why should NY have a special carve out to ignore the Constitution?

  • KM September 8, 2017, 12:26 pm

    Uh…aren’t Mennonites pacifists?

    • Every American September 8, 2017, 11:26 pm

      No, they are not. There is a HUGE difference between pacifist and nonresistance try a dictionary…

  • Andy September 8, 2017, 9:52 am

    I think the NY law stinks, but all should have to abide by it. No religion deserves a special carve out. If it’s bad for one, it’s bad for all. It is odd to me though, that members of a religion that contemplates as sinful (otherwise they wouldn’t abstain from it) the lifestyles and technologies that have come about after +\- 1800 and who are generally pacifists (when a draft is on anyway) would be seeking a firearm.

    • loupgarous September 8, 2017, 11:58 am

      Everybody in farm country hunts. Guns are far older than the 1800s. So I think I see a way around this – sure, issue picture-less permits – to carry black powder muzzle-loaders. That’s a principled accommodation that gives the Amish what they say they want – no modern technology (my Dad was Mennonite, so this isn’t coming from religious bigotry, but the Mennonites are more practical than the Amish about many things, like motorized farm equipment, stuff like that).

  • John Edward Beder September 8, 2017, 9:11 am

    They are getting their photograph taken, albeit unwittingly everyday. With all the cameras Big Brother has installed everywhere for our “security”, they are gonna burn in Kodak hell as their pic is out there..

  • Darrel Scott September 8, 2017, 9:10 am

    This country will never truly be free until we free from the influences of any and all religions.

    • Every American September 8, 2017, 11:28 pm

      Your ignorance of our history and the relation of this country’s founding and laws to religion is absolutely abysmal not to mention ridiculous. Perhaps you should go learn some of your history before you go running your mouth and showing how ignorant you are

  • robert September 8, 2017, 8:44 am

    Actually, let’s flip this notion on its head. I happen to live in a state with constitutional carry. Therefore, I get to exercise my 2A right without a picture (i.e. there’s no carry permit required). If we’re going to abide by the Constitution, this should be the de facto standard. No permit required — end of story.

    • DaveGinOly September 8, 2017, 2:22 pm

      Nobody has ever explained to me, to my satisfaction, how our rights can vary from State to State in a republic in which the member States nominally operate under the same principles of liberty, natural rights, and due process.

  • David September 8, 2017, 7:55 am

    That’s the stupidest law I have ever heard proposed. There are no good reason to grant legal exemptions to anyone regarding identification by facial recognition. Whether it is Amish/ Mennonite seeking permits to carry or Muslim women claiming Berka cannot be removed for their identification. Laws should apply equally to all with No exemptions for anyone.

    • Gary September 8, 2017, 10:47 am

      I live in NY, and I totally agree with you.
      Why should your religion except you from obeying the law? I have to be photographed to even keep my permit. It does sound like NY anyway.
      The most annoying part of it to me is that I had a great Amish neighbor down the road from me in my last home. They had a dairy farm, sold pies and baked goods for extra money. (Which I bought way to much of! ) 😉
      They had no electricity in their home, they were Totally committed to their religion. I admired them a great deal, and I respect them, and their religion as well.
      Once a law was passed that all MILK processed for SALE to the public HAD to be pasteurized, and a phone was Required to call for your milk pick up by the wholesales.
      They put both electric and a phone in the Barn to run the milk pasteurizer and cooler, and make their nesasary phone calls. (To comply with NYS law..)
      They still farm with their horses, and bake and cook on a wood burning stove in the house. But when they go into the barn, they are in a different century.
      We talked many times about HOW he could justify this way of life with his religion. After MANY conversations about it, he finally got angry enough to admit that it was either do it, or loose his farm or at least his means of making a living as a Dairy Farmer.
      So like most other people in the world, when push comes to shove they either follow the law to do what they want, or give up on doing it.
      Do you really think these people could get a driver’s license or a passport from NYS without photos? Not a chance!
      They don’t NEED either, so it’s never been a problem for them. Even making the 45 min drive to Canada from here, that is a drive of the better part of a day with a horse and buggy!
      I truly miss that family. I make the drive a few times a year to buy a few pies. The thing is, I used to have to order them in advance, IN Person. Now I phone their barn, and he will take the order to give to his wife, as he answered the phone anyway. LOL
      These are the kind of BS laws that proves the other gun control laws are all BS as well.

  • ToddB September 8, 2017, 7:49 am

    Really so the Amish should get a special exemption, but nobody else? Remember when everybody made a stink over Muslims refusing to get their photos done? Both are based on religion, they are different how?

  • Mike September 8, 2017, 7:46 am

    Read the sentence “…Do not allow themselves to be photographed.” It’s right abeam a photo of those Amish holding the guns.
    Nobody should have to be photographed any way, it’s our right to carry. Do you have a photo permit for the rest of the amendments?

    • bryan larocque September 8, 2017, 9:28 am

      so, finger print them if no picture taken,or/and dna sample !

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