Amish Man Not Allowed to Buy Gun is Suing U.S. Government

Cindy Cornett Seigle is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Cindy Cornett Seigle is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Amish man fights photo ID required to purchase a gun because it’s a violation of his religious beliefs.

Andrew Hertzler, who is a member of the Amish community in Lancaster County, has filed a suit in the U.S. Middle District Court seeking an exemption from him being photographed as a requirement for purchasing a firearm, citing his faith.

Amish Man Not Allowed to Buy Gun is Suing U.S. Government[/tweetthis]

Hertzler, who lives in Northumberland County, says that the law, which mandates that the transferor of a firearm verify the identity of the transferee using a state-issued photo ID, violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and also the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right to bear arms. In his defense, Hertzler, who is against photographs of him being taken, cites Exodus 20:4:

"Do not make for yourselves images of anything in heaven or on earth or in the water under the earth."

Karen Johnson-Weiner, a Professor of Anthropology with the State University of New York at Potsdam, who has studied the Amish for years, upholds this, saying that they generally don't like being photographed and do not even open bank accounts because of this.

Andrew Hertzler had previously tried to purchase a gun for self-defense at a licensed Pennsylvania firearms dealer, but was rejected as he could produce only a state-issued non-photo ID. He then got in touch with U.S. Senator Patrick J. Toomey, who contacted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, more commonly known as the ATF, on his behalf. The ATF told him it was a federal law and could not be done away with, which prompted Hertzler to seek legal remedy.

He has named Thomas E. Brandon, who serves as Acting Director of the ATF, Assistant Director Christopher C. Shaefer, Director of the FBI James B. Comey, , and Loretta Lynch, who is the current U.S. Attorney General, as co-defendants in his lawsuit, along with the U.S. federal government.

He adds that there are no state or federal laws that prevent him from owning a gun, and points out that he can easily come into the legal possession of one by getting a firearms dealership license, which does not require a photo ID, but is not interested in becoming a firearms dealer. He maintains that his state-issued non-photo ID should be enough, and asks in his petition that all whose religious beliefs prevent them from being photographed be exempted from the legal requirement.


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