Despite permitless carry now the law in a majority of states and concealed carry with a permit allowed in most of the others, gun owners who do carry or keep a firearm in their vehicle probably didn’t realize every time they even drove into a U.S. Post Office parking lot to drop a letter into a mailbox, they were breaking federal law. And going into the actual post office, even late at night when no one else is there to grab your mail from a post office box with a gun riding in your waistband, forget about it, you were definitely breaking the law there.
Federal gun law bans the carry of firearms on much of its property, even in bathrooms and visitor centers on national lands, where a firearm might otherwise be permitted. And post offices, their parking lots, even the grounds around them have all been designated gun-free zones where being caught in possession of a firearm, even locked in your vehicle as you walked inside, could result in fines and imprisonment.
But not anymore…well, maybe.
A federal judge in Florida recently ruled that the federal law banning people from possessing guns in post offices or while on post office property is unconstitutional, citing the landmark Bruen case in which the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Second Amendment right to bear arms as an individual right and removing a host of obstacles many states had constructed to infringe upon those rights.
U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle made the ruling in a case in which postal worker, Emmanuel Ayala, had been charged with illegally possessing a gun in a federal facility. Mizelle dismissed the gun charge against Ayala citing the unconstitutionality of the gun ban. A separate charge for forcibly resisting arrest remained in place however, according to U.S. News & World Report.
But does that means that is now the law of the land and gun owners are free to carry their handguns onto postal property? The impression you might get reading many of these recent news stories is yes. But the truth is a good deal more complicated.
As U.S. LawShield President Kirk Evans explains there are several reasons this ruling may not apply to all gun owners.
“This is a ruling out of a federal district court out of the middle district of Florida. There are other district courts and other districts in Florida, and the other districts in Florida do not necessarily have to follow this decision. The judges in those districts might rule exactly the opposite,” Evans says in a recently released video. “In addition, every other federal district court around the country doesn’t have to follow this decision either. The courts might rule the exact opposite, the courts might say I like that logic and issue a very similar ruling, but they do not have to follow it as precedent right now.”
Evans explains the case will almost certainly be appealed and the circuit court could ultimately rule to uphold or overturn the ruling in the Ayala case. More appeals could follow, possibly all the way up to the Supreme Court.
“So until we have some finality as to what the law is on this subject, we would highly, highly suggest you not take your firearm into a U.S. post office, even in the middle district of Florida,” Evans says.
He notes the type of challenge Ayala and his attorney filed an “as applied” challenge, based on the fact that he was an employee of the post office, not just a customer. Ayala’s lawyers argued because postal workers can receive threats and must sometimes deliver mail in dangerous areas, they should be allowed to protect themselves. As such, this ruling does not necessarily apply to the average customer…yet…or maybe never…or, well, we’ll have to wait and see.
Here’s the whole video and explanation and in it, Evans underscores, despite the ruling, the U.S. Postal Service Office has not changed their policy. They still view firearms on postal property as an illegal act. So, ship those packages with care.
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