Religious Discrimination? Amish Man Sues for Right to Buy Gun Without ID


The Second Amendment and Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) might be on a collision course with federal and state law after an Amish man filed a federal lawsuit following an unsuccessful attempt buy a gun without a photo ID.

The man who filled the suit, Andrew Hertzler, is an practicing member of the Amish community which prohibits having members from having their picture knowingly taken. This statement from the suit explains the religious objection.

“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.”

Mr. Hertzler attempted to purchase a hunting gun at a dealer in June using his state issued non-photo ID. However, the dealer refused to sell him a firearm because federal firearm laws require photo identification when purchasing a firearm. This meant that he either had to violate his deeply held religious beliefs or forgo his constitutional right to own a firearm. This catch-22 is what prompted him to file a federal lawsuit. The suit invokes the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) which was passed to “ensure that interests in religious freedom are protected.”

Ultimately the case will come down to whether or not religious liberties outweigh the federal government’s concerns over public safety in requiring photo identification to purchase a firearm.

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