USA – -(Ammoland.com)- Welcome back to The Legal Brief, the show where we CRUSH the various legal myths and misinformation surrounding various areas of the gun world.
I’m your host Adam Kraut and today we are talking about carrying firearms on postal property. And no, we are not discussing shipping firearms through the mail.
The topic of post offices comes up rather frequently in conversation with regard to firearms. It is a place that many of us travel to in order to send certain things and a place that some of us have to travel to in order to collect our mail since the post office does not actually deliver to all residences. For instance, Jon has a PO Box for TGC.
As we have previously discussed, federal law prohibits the possession of firearms in federal facilities. This would include post offices. I think most of you were already aware of that given the signs you usually see posted all throughout the post office. And no, it doesn’t only ban revolvers….
While this is relatively straight forward the question arises in the context of the post office parking lot.
Can you carry a firearm to the post office, park in the post office parking lot and leave your firearm in the car while you retrieve your mail or ship something? The answer which may surprise some of you, is no.
The federal regulations state “[n]otwithstanding the provisions of any other law, rule or regulation, no person while on postal property may carry firearms, … either openly or concealed, or store the same on postal property, except for official purposes.” In other words, a person cannot carry or store a firearm on postal property, unless it is for official purposes. I know some of you are going to say “but Adam, my car isn’t postal property.” You’re right, but it is parked on postal property and that is where the problem lies. buhdaddum
Tab Bonidy, a Coloradan who lived in a rural area, felt that such a restriction violated his Second Amendment rights and brought suit against the US Postal Service. He claimed that the restriction was unconstitutional as applied to him because it violated his Second Amendment right to bring a gun into the post office and store a gun in his car while he picked up his mail. Mr. Bonidy lived in an area where he had to retrieve his mail from the post office as they did not deliver. The District Court held that the postal regulation prohibiting Mr. Bonidy from carrying his firearm into the post office was constitutional but the prohibition on storing a firearm in his car was not.
As you may have guessed, the Government wasn’t quite happy with that outcome, so it appealed the decision to the Tenth Circuit. The Tenth Circuit ruled that the parking lot adjacent to the actual building was considered postal property and as such, the post office could prohibit firearms from being stored in a vehicle. In part, it relied on language found in Heller which stated “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions…or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.” For what it is worth that particular sentence as a whole has been the subject of a lot of controversy and interpretation.
The Court offered two approaches which it could find that the prohibition was constitutional. First, it looked at the layout of the parking lot, finding that it was attached to the postal building and was for the exclusive use of it. It also noted there was a postal drop box, which meant postal transactions took place in the parking lot. As such, it found that the language quoted in Heller applied to the parking lot as well as the building. However, because the Court felt that the parking lot was a matter which was closely contested, it offered an alternative analysis.
The Court posited that the right to bear arms recognized in Heller in the home, would apply, although with less force, outside of the home. The Court stated that the Post Office acting as a proprietor (not a sovereign) has broad discretion to govern business operations according to rules it deems appropriate. It also found that the differences between the ban in Heller and McDonald were starkly different than the one in this instance. It stated “[T]he regulation challenged here applies only to discrete parcels of land owned by the U.S. Postal Service, and affects private citizens only insofar as they are doing business with the USPS on USPS property. And the regulation is directly relevant to the USPS’s business objectives, which include providing a safe environment for its patrons and employees.”
Applying an analysis, the Court determined that the regulation was sufficiently tailored to the US Postal Service’s important interest in safety. Remember, intermediate scrutiny requires that the government’s stated objective be important and there has to be a reasonable fit between the challenged regulation and the asserted objective. In this instance, the fit between the important interest in safety and the prohibition of carrying firearms on the property. As such, it upheld the constitutionality of the regulation. I’ve included the decision in the description for your reading pleasure. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court which denied certiorari. Two of the attorneys at the firm I work for drafted an Amicus Curiae Brief which was filed prior to the denial. You can find that in the description as well.
So what should you do if you have to go to the post office and you have your gun? Well, there are a few options. You could leave your gun at home, but I know that most of you won’t view that as an option and I don’t blame you. You could park in a parking lot that is not on post office property, store your firearm securely, walk to the post office, conduct your business and then return to your car. Or you could send someone else to handle your mail for you.
Hopefully that clears up some confusion that exists surrounding firearms and postal facilities. If you guys liked this episode, you know what to do, hit that like button and share it around with your friends. Be sure to check out my website adamkraut.com. Remember, if you have a question you want answered on this show, head over to The Legal Brief section on theguncollective.com. Don’t forget to like The Gun Collective on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Full 30, Snap Chat and wherever else you can catch us on social media.
And as always thanks for watching!
Links for this episode:
- 18 U.S.C. § 930 – Possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in Federal facilities : https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/930
- 39 C.F.R. § 232.1 – Conduct on postal property : https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/39/232.1
- Bonidy v. USPS : https://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/13/13-1374.pdf
- Amicus Brief : https://princelaw.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/no-15-746-proof-prince-law-office-final.pdf
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