Challenge to Ban on Firearms on Postal Service Property

Attorney Jim Manley and the Mountain States Legal Foundation are taking on the US Postal Service’s ban on any firearm on USPS property. The challenge is on behalf of Debbie and Tab Bonidy of Avon, Colorado and the National Association for Gun Rights. A lawsuit, Bonidy et al v. USPS et al, was filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

The Bonidys live in a rural area of Colorado that doesn’t have home mail delivery. Because of that, the local post office in Avon, Colorado provides the residents of the area with a post office box at no charge. While they both have Colorado concealed carry permits and regularly carry, the Bonidys cannot carry concealed or openly when picking up their mail. They even can’t leave their firearms locked in their car as this would violate 39 C.F.R. § 232.1(l). This regulation reads:

(l) Weapons and explosives. No person while on postal property may carry firearms, other dangerous or deadly weapons, or explosives, either openly or concealed, or store the same on postal property, except for official purposes.

Violation of this regulation could subject them to a fine or imprisonment or both. Rather than risk this, they, through their attorney, requested that the USPS amend or repeal this provision as it was broader than other firearms restrictions on Federal property and because it went beyond what was allowed under the Heller decision.

In response to their letter, Mary Anne Gibbons, General Counsel for the USPS, informed the Bonidys that the USPS believed that it was on firm legal ground and that bringing firearms on Postal Service grounds would indeed violate 39 C.F.R. § 232.1(l). She said the Postal Service would be seeking the advice of the Justice Department on the issues raised on behalf of the Bonidys.

The lawsuit is seeking a permanent injunction against the enforcement of the Postal Service regulations on the grounds that:

By prohibiting Plaintiffs from possessing a functional firearm on real property under the charge and control of the USPS, Defendants currently maintain and actively enforce a set of laws, customs, practices, and policies that deprive Plaintiffs of the right to keep and bear arms, in violation of the Second Amendment.

In addition to the injunction, the plaintiffs are seeking costs, attorney fees, and any further relief that the Court may award.

In a parenthetical note, this is the first time that I am aware that the National Association for Gun Rights has been a party to any post-McDonald litigation. Due to their sensationalist “alerts” on Rep. Bobby Rush’s HR 45 as a means of fund-raising, they have not been taken too seriously in the past. If this lawsuit marks a change in their direction, so much the better.


18 thoughts on “Challenge to Ban on Firearms on Postal Service Property”

  1. I travel throughout the west by horseback and I have my post mistress call the post office where I need to pick up packages when I am on the trail. If the postal person at the post office I need to pick something up from agrees, I quietly go to the back door and do my business there. Fortunately, in small rural inter-mountain state post offices, folks still possess common sense.

    Hope this law suit is effective because the regulation is stupid. It is not the customers that "go postal" and shoot up the place. It is the employees. Perhaps the regulation should only apply to those on the official side of the counter not the public.

    For anybody else in such a fix, anot her option is to call the local cops and ask them to hold your weapons while you do business and hope you don't get shot by those allegedly sworn to protect the public.

    Far Rider
    http://farriderjournal.blogspot.com/

  2. The controlling statute is 18 USC 930:

    "(a) Except as provided in subsection (d), whoever knowingly possesses or causes to be present a firearm or other dangerous weapon in a Federal facility (other than a Federal court facility), or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.
    (b) Whoever, with intent that a firearm or other dangerous weapon be used in the commission of a crime, knowingly possesses or causes to be present such firearm or dangerous weapon in a Federal facility, or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.
    (c) A person who kills any person in the course of a violation of subsection (a) or (b), or in the course of an attack on a Federal facility involving the use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon, or attempts or conspires to do such an act, shall be punished as provided in sections 1111, 1112, 1113, and 1117.
    (d)Subsection (a) shall not apply to— (1) the lawful performance of official duties by an officer, agent, or employee of the United States, a State, or a political subdivision thereof, who is authorized by law to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of any violation of law;
    (2) the possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon by a Federal official or a member of the Armed Forces if such possession is authorized by law; or
    (3) the lawful carrying of firearms or other dangerous weapons in a Federal facility incident to hunting or other lawful purposes."

    The USPS regs ban carry except for official purposes. The statute bans carry for unlawful purposes. Seems to me that striking down the regulation as over-broad and exceeding the authority granted to the USPS by Congress would be a slam-dunk.

  3. ** THIS IS ONE 'EVERYONE' SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO! NRA SHOULD GET DIRECTLY INVOLVED AS WELL AS SAF!!

    It is extremely important 1) because the Post Ofc. IS wrong! & 2) it sets a very important precedent!!

    The Post Ofc. is NOT hallowed ground -and Post Ofc. workers r near useless anyway (has nothing to do with case… just thought I'd throw it in.)

  4. I have a concealed carry permit and it was issued for "all lawful purposes" I consider self protection a lawful purpose. This seems to be in compliance with subsection d line 3. Is this telling me I can walk in to a post office to pick up my mail carrying my shotgun on my way to hunt ducks but I can't carry my concealed pistol to protect myself?

  5. Although I personally agree that self defense is a lawful purpose, good luck getting the postal inspector to agree with you…

    As said before, it isn't the customers that have shot up post offices, it has been the employees…

  6. The only court case I have found regarding 18 USC 930 d(3) ruled that the "lawful purpose" section was meant to imply one had to be legally carrying a firearm AND that it was related to business within the federal building. Do I call BS on their opinion, yes, but it is what it is for now.

    Also interesting to note is that 18 USC 930 doesn't apply to post offices, according to 39 USC 410. (http://www.buckeyefirearms.org/Concealed-carry-in-a-post-office-may-lead-to-rude-awakening)

  7. While we might think getting our mail or buying stamps as both official business or a lawful purpose, from my reading of the General Counsel's letter, I don't think the USPS considers that as what is meant by "official business".

  8. The U S Postal Service is no different than any other Federal Building, why not challenge the Federal Court house, Etc? Why just the Post Office? What would this Country come to? This Law suit filed the same day two Postal employees were shot to Death in Tennesee in a small rural town.

  9. @maridian66: I must correct you on when the lawsuit was filed. This law suit was filed on October 4th and not on October 18th.

    The couple that are the primary plaintiffs filed the suit because they don't want to end up like the two USPS employees who were murdered in Tennessee. They only want to be able to provide for their own defense and postal regulations prohibit them from doing so.

  10. Honestly people would you feel comfortable at any job waiting on any customer holding a gun? I respect the right to bear arms but in this life there are some people who do not have the patience, conduct, or temperment to carry a gun. *RIP Henning Tennesee*

  11. Christopher, I can understand an argument from "comfort," but the fact is that the employee's comfort doesn't trump the customer's right to keep and bear arms. I've dealt with customers who were scary or made me uncomfortable many times over the years, and there was never a gun involved *as far as I knew.*

    How would anyone know whether the customer has a gun or not? They don't glow through clothing. You (the general "you") can prohibit open carry, but that's admitting that the regulation only exists because you're not comfortable with seeing the weapon.
    You can prohibit concealed carry, but unless you're going to subject people to TSA's least popular measures at the post office (and even that won't really do it, but we'll leave that for another time) you're not going to know whether people are obeying that regulation or simply ignoring it.

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