Amish man sues feds over photo ID law for gun buys

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – An Amish man from central Pennsylvania is challenging the U.S. government’s photo identification requirement to buy a firearm.

Andrew Hertzler, of Watsontown, says his religious beliefs prevent him from knowingly having his photograph taken and stored.

In his lawsuit, he says he tried to buy a gun for home self-defense with a state-issued, non-photo ID, but the purchase in June was denied.

Hertzler says the photo ID requirement violates his religious freedom and his constitutional right to bear arms. He adds that federal “straw purchase” laws prevent someone else from buying a gun for him.

He’s seeking religious exemptions to the photo identification requirement.

“Generally Amish don’t want their pictures taken,” Karen Johnson-Weiner, an Anthropology Professor with SUNY Potsdam, said. “Its a violation of the commandment of making grave an image.'”

The lawsuit filed Friday in the U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania names U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the directors of the FBI and ATF.

Johnson-Weiner has studied the Amish for years.

“Lack of photo ID inhibits Amish folks in different parts of the country from doing other things,” she told ABC 27 News. “For example to establish a bank account you need IDs.”

As part of his lawsuit Hertzler says he wanted to buy the gun for self-defense purposes.

A photo ID is required for most gun purchases.

Michael V. Marinaro is an attorney in Lancaster who has dealt with many types of gun cases. He said he believe the lawsuit will get thrown out because he told ABC 27 News that it has no merit.

Marinaro also said he fears what would happen if the lawsuit isn’t tossed.

“If in fact it’s not I think there is going to be a lot of straw purchases,” he said. “There are a lot of people that go in and say ‘I’m Amish and I don’t believe in having my photograph taken’.”

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