Palo Mayombe practice no reason to carry a gun

I found this story regarding the case of U.S. v. Cruz, 19-cr-775 on the Inner City Press website:

“… Eric Cruz was up for sentencing on gun charges on May 18 and in his defense submission was this: “Mr. Cruz’ possession of the firearm at issue was solely for use in the ceremonial practice of his religion, Palo Mayombe. Firearms hold only symbolic meaning in the ritual practice of the religion and involve no violence or threat of violence.” U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein weighed this claim against the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and found it wanting … Judge Hellerstein said, He is citing a Cuban religion as a basis for having a gun. But a loaded gun? He cites the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 – government must show a compelling interest. But that does not require the US to do handstands… I find that there is not a burden on this religion, and that even if there were it would be acceptable to control guns … Judge Hellerstein ultimately imposed a sentence of 21 months in custody, to be followed by three years of supervised release …”

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