An Amish man from Pennsylvania is suing the US government because he says the photographic identification he needs in order to buy a gun, violates his rights.
Andrew Hertzler filed a suit on Friday in the US Middle District Court claiming that the photo ID requirement violates both the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and his constitutional right to bear arms.
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In a case uniting two of America’s most potent cultural issues, guns and religion, Andrew Hertzler argues his faith has been “substantially burdened” by the rule that he must have a photo of himself taken.
He tried to buy a firearm on 2 June from a Pennsylvania licensed dealer, but was turned away because his state-issued identification didn’t have a photo.
The plaintiff, of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, “has a sincerely held religious belief that prevents him from knowingly and willingly having his photograph taken and stored”, according to the lawsuit, reports Lancaster Online.
“The Amish faith prohibits an individual from having his/her photograph taken,” states the legal action filed in US Middle District Court.
“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 case argues that the rule violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and his right to bear arms under the second amendment of the US constitution.
Mr Hertzler protested to his elected representative, Republican US Senator Pat Toomey, who contacted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Mr Toomey passed on to Mr Hertzler a response from the ATF making clear there are no exceptions to the federal requirement that gun-buyers show photo ID.
The lawsuit states: “Mr Hertzler’s religious freedom has been substantially burdened – in order to exercise his fundamental right to possess a firearm for defense of himself and his home, the Government is requiring him to violate a major tenet of his sincerely held religious belief.”
It adds that federal “straw purchase” laws prevent someone else from buying a gun for Mr Hertzler.
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