Amish Photo Exemption Bill Raises Questions about Gun Owner Control Laws and More

By David Codrea

Have photo ID requirements on the Amish reduced drive-by shootings and other violent crimes? (TheCadExpert/ Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0)
David Codrea in his natural habitat.

USA – -( “A Republican state senator from upstate New York wants to make it easier for members of the Amish and Mennonite communities to buy a gun,” Gothamist reported Sunday. “Senator Catharine Young introduced legislation that would carve out a special exception in the firearm application rule, allowing members of an ‘established religious sect’ to forego the requirement of submitting a photograph along with their handgun application under certain circumstances.”

The photo requirement forces them to make a choice between adhering to their faith or being able to have a gun, the story elaborates. With the change Young proposes, they would be able to submit an affidavit. And existing exemptions on labor, building code and educational regulations have created precedents for accommodating alternative sets of rules.

While some Amish do have guns for pest control and hunting, beliefs in nonresistance and forsaking of technology would seem to an outsider to make ownership of handguns, particularly modern ones, problematic.  Leaving their business to them, the focus of this article must be on laws that apply to all, and as such, several questions come to mind:

How does that fit in with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment?

Wouldn’t requiring a doctrine to be “established” discriminate against new religions?

Logical consistency says only haters would deny respect for a right to “identify” with religious tenets, too.

If someone can “identify” with the gender combination of their choosing, and if laws infringing on that are condemned as hateful and discriminatory, why would the same not apply to religious beliefs of their choosing? What valid mechanism do state bureaucracies have to read a person’s heart and to know if they’re sincere or just gaming the system?

Those questions expose the arbitrary nature of the rules, and how the more contradictory they get, the pettier they become. But like writer Thomas Pynchon observed:

“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.”

Because there’s a more fundamental question than whether or not there’s a workaround to the photo requirement, or whether there ought to be such a requirement in the first place.

Where does anyone get off requiring a free citizen to get permission to exercise a right?

Who has legitimate moral authority to impose prior restraints on rights that, depending on your beliefs, are either “endowed by our Creator” or inherent to the condition of being human?

And where do they get off legally, since Supreme Court precedent acknowledges:

“This is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed …”

The Cult of Statism is determined to impose faith in a monopoly of violence enforced by follower disarmament, even though all credible observations show its tenets to be superstitious nonsense. And we know what happens to non-believers, heretics, infidels…

“Progressives” are inconsistent on requiring photo IDs. (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 License. Attribution: Peterljr888)

And here’s another bit of hypocrisy from those who would force their will on those who would stray from the flock: Notice how, when it comes to Voter ID laws requiring government photo IDs, the same zealots scream “Disenfranchisement!” and “Discrimination!”


About David Codrea:

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating / defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament.

In addition to being a field editor/columnist at GUNS Magazine and associate editor for Oath Keepers, he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

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Oldvet, I partially agree with you, except that to vote, you should have to prove citizenship in the jurisdiction in which you want to vote. To purchase and carry openly or concealed, you should ONLY need to prove U.S. citizenship. There are plenty of citizens who also vote illegally by voting across the state lines to influence a neighboring state’s election (see New Jersey same day registration and the problems inherent with that). Probably many also vote in more than one state, such as when they own a vacation home in another state, vote in person in one state as… Read more »


You never get censored here as far as I can tell. You just don’t seem to realize the comments aren’t posted immediately. Maybe stop accusing this site of censorship and be patient next time. Unless you enjoy looking foolish!

Robert Varner

As for the care of an aged horse…..this is going to come off as callous but once they have served their purpose what would you do with them? The Amish are thrifty people. Having a horse that is no longer capable of working is a liability. It contributes nothing and requires care, food and shelter. All of which could be used on a productive animal. Quite basic really. Say what you like but if more people spent time with Amish they would be better for it. People today are raised to believe that we need to keep every living thing… Read more »

Wild Bill

@Robert Varner, So, a horse works for you for 20 or 25 years, doing the work of ten men, and you would reward him by selling him to slaughter. I bet lots of people like to work for you. Everything is about profit, or at least reducing costs. You have no honor. You have no Christian mercy and writing “God Bless” is an insult to God. You are a blasphemer. When a horse can no longer pull a plow or wagon he is of no use. Is that the limit of your vision? When I go out into the pasture,… Read more »


I live in South Central PA. For a time, I was attending up to 3 gun shows a month. Some were east of the Susquehanna River (toward Lancaster County PA). On more than one occasion, I encountered Amish Men looking at and purchasing firearms and Ammunition. My impression was that they were very knowledgeable with regard to firearms, within limits of personal experience, rather than exposure to any media resources. They seemed to know what they wanted, and how much it should cost. About the Amish,…. Rather than being completely inflexible about things like modern technology, they tend to be… Read more »


I’m going to chime in again about the LEGAL meanings of words, and the invisible or adhesion contracts we enter into – without full informed knowledge or, in many cases, consent. ALL of the statutes made nowadays are applied to the legal fiction called a “person”. If one simply thinks that means him (or her – and there are NO other ‘genders’ in the real world), then he should read a LEGAL dictionary for the true meaning of the word. It MEANS an ARTIFICIAL thing, as in a corporation (which is a legal fiction). It does NOT mean a living,… Read more »

Wild Bill

MadM, part of the stuff that you said about regulating interstate commerce is correct, but the S.Ct has also decided that anything that you grow, make, or do that so much as touches or concerns interstate commerce is also subject to Congress’ control.
As to the person part that you wrote: “Person a human being (i.e. natural peson), although by statute the term may include a firm, labor organization, partnerships, associations, corporations, etc.etc.” Please see Black Law Dictionary, Fifth ed. p, 1028

Clark Kent

Dude; get some new tinfoil for your hat. Make sure the new one does not fit as snugly. Then seek professional help.

VE Veteran - Old Man's Club

@ All – Please read my comment under Common Sense Gun Laws. It really does cover any discussion about gun laws.

Jo Ann

Oops, this was going so well and then, the snipping started. Come on guys, your Brains – use em if you’ve got em.

Jo Ann

Love a good discussion!!

VE Veteran - Old Man's Club

I don’t. And I mention them turds regularly.

F Riehl, Editor in Chief

None of your comments have been censored, any that get held are always approved, stop you whiny bitching.

William Phillips

If libs want to defend voting with out ID because it’s descriminatory I want to be able to buy a gun with out an ID. Fair is fair. Beside, as long as we can’t say who is voting for whom I don’t think when “they” take office they should know who is buying guns. Voter fraud seems like a gate way to tyranny. The 2nd ammendment is supposed to be the final protection against that.

Wild Bill

@WP, Yes, that is the way it should be, and was. The first gun that I ever bought was in the hardware store. The only paperwork was the receipt. We must go back to the Constitution.


Your first purchase was better documented than mine. I plopped four portaits of Mr. Jackson on the counter, picked up the boxed rifle from the counter, and walked out. Oh, and I drove interstate from my house to the hardware store where I bought it, too. He never opened the box th check the serial number, never knew my name. No phone calls, no writing in any book that can kick about for twenty years and end up in the hands of some gumit dweeb somewhere. NO ONE but me and a few friends even know that gun exists, let… Read more »

Wild Bill

@Tio N, It is an outrage that following generations will never know freedom! I propose that the members of Congress no longer be referred to as Representative, Senator, or Congressperson, but rather “Elitist Freedom Stealing Thief”.


In some cases, the rifle might not have even had a serial number. My dad used to have an old .22 old enough that it didn’t have one. I remember when for several years they recorded ammunition sales except for shotgun shells. They finally got that turned around, just need to keep backing things up to get in line with the Constitution. Any legislator proven to be in disagreement with the Constitution is guilty of betraying their oath of office and should be impeached. In the cases of John Kerry and Obama, they should be proven guilty of treason in… Read more »


oh qwitchyerbellyaching.

I don’t know how many mods there are, or what hours they keep. Everything I write ends up here eventually.
Just write your poses, hit “GO” and cool yer heels.

Dr. Strangelove

This will be great for a burka wearing jihadist to buy some weapons.

Wild Bill

@Dr. Strangelove, One must be a citizen or permanent resident to purchase a firearm. I and the law do not care if they are in a Burka or speedos. If that person or any person commits a felony with a firearm, then let them pay that state’s penalty. But stop inflicting the punishment of the GCA, the NFA, and the BATFE on me for what others have done or might do.


I would like to buy a 1911 completed .


A Thomas Pynchon reference. Now, that is a rarity. My respect just went up a few more notches.

Jim Macklin

Maybe a “revised 4473” should ask only two questions…
1. Do you intend to commit suicide, murder, armed robbery, kidnapping or other violent crime? YES NO
2. Are you lying? YES NO

About ten years ago I had a conversation with an Amish woman that went like this.
“I don’t know much about the Amish, is it a sin to commit suicide or murder?”
Followed by, “If you don’t defend yourself, aren’t you doing both?”

Wild Bill

The Amish refuse to participate in defending their nation, and, I am told, they sell their horses to slaughter after a life of hard labor, and faithful service. We care little for the existence of the Amish.


But they do work hard to preserve their communities, and by that I mean ALL living inside them, not just their own. They may well have a signficant point on the “defending their nation” stance….. how many of our “wars” since the second German War have truly been about “defending our nation”? For that matter, when one looks more deeply into the causes and origins of the two German wars of the last century, it is quesitoinable whether they were truly “defending our nation”, at least when one considers what went on during the run-up to those conflicts. Further ,back,… Read more »

Wild Bill

@Tio N, it would be faithful and generous to put the horse to pasture. What is a few mouthfuls of grass? Now, I care even less for the faithless, greedy, self serving, leaches enjoying the cloak of protection that this nation provides for them, and that they refuse to contribute to.

Clark Kent

What business is it of YOURS to determine how OTHERS live their lives according to their religious beliefs? Hint: ZERO.

VE Veteran - Old Man's Club

I see Super Punk has you targeted. I realize that he is an irritant (kind of on the order of rectal itch) but he’s so busy showing his *ss that we now know which end he speaks from. His (I presume its a him) has his wallet always muffling his voice.


“Where does anyone get off requiring a free citizen to get permission to exercise a right? “Who has legitimate moral authority to impose prior restraints on rights that, depending on your beliefs, are either “endowed by our Creator” or inherent to the condition of being human?” Quite so, David. People can’t delegate to the govt a power they don’t have as individuals. Since as individuals we can’t require people to ask us for permission to buy guns the govt, acting as our agent, can’t legitimately do so either. As Bastiat wrote in “The Law” “… an individual cannot lawfully… Read more »