Should Citizens Carry Firearms into U.S. Post Offices?

By
Clarence Walker

Federal Lawsuit Seeks to End Gun Ban on Federal Property Where Letters & Packages Are Mailed

It's all about the guns in Texas. Even the U.S. Post Office is about to feel the heat. So, as a warning, don't mess with Texas, especially over firearms!

A group of gun-toting Texans filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas arguing that two federal statutes prohibiting individuals from carrying firearms into post offices infringe upon the Second Amendment.

The plaintiffs seek to halt the enforcement of these laws.

Ban on Firearms Challenged

The Second Amendment Foundation(SAF) lawsuit challenged the ban on firearms carry in U.S. Post Offices and on postal property as violations of the Second Amendment, and is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.

Joining SAF are the Firearms Policy Coalition and two private citizens, Gavin Pate and George Mandry, both Texas residents. Named as the sole defendant is Attorney General Merrick Garland, in his official capacity. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division.

"Under the Bruen ruling of June 2022," noted SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, "if the government seeks to restrict firearms in a particular location as a 'sensitive place,' it must prove that its current restriction is sufficiently analogous to a well-established and representative historical analogue."

"Current federal law bars the 'knowing possession' of firearms in federal facilities, which includes post offices," said SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut. "Millions of legally armed private citizens, whose daily routines may include visits to post offices to pick up or drop off mail, are directly impacted by this infringement. There is no well-established, representative historical analogue to justify this regulation, which violates the Second Amendment."

9mm walther pistol. Image by Thomas Breher from Pixabay

9mm walther pistol. Image by Thomas Breher from Pixabay

Lawsuit Dwells on Two Distinct Laws

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit all have licenses to carry handguns. As mentioned, they are challenging laws that forbid carrying firearms into post offices.

One of the plaintiffs often carries large sums of cash and fear being robbed. Another plaintiff lives in an area with increasing crime and would visit the post office more frequently if he didn't have to disarm before checking his mail.

Two Laws in Focus

The lawsuit dwells on two laws: one that prohibits carrying firearms in federal facilities, and another that prohibits carrying firearms on postal service grounds.

Citing the recent decision by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, the plaintiffs say the government must justify a restriction on firearms by showing that it is "consistent with the Nation's historical tradition of firearm regulation."

SCOTUS

SCOTUS struck down New York State's restriction on carrying firearms in public, explaining that the entire area of Manhattan could not be considered a "sensitive place" where firearms may be restricted, simply because it is crowded and protected by the New York City Police Department.

The petition further elaborated on the distinction between post offices and the other identified sensitive areas, highlighting that legislative assemblies, polling places, and courthouses are explicitly areas where the government ensures a high level of security due to the nature of the activities carried out in those spaces.

In contrast, post offices primarily serve as public facilities for mail services without the same level of government-mandated security measures in place.

Cut n Shoot Post Office in Texas

Cut n Shoot Post Office in Texas

By emphasizing this distinction, the petition aimed to argue that post offices should not be automatically considered sensitive areas that fall under the exception in the statute.

This legal interpretation is crucial in determining the extent of protection afforded to individuals engaging in free speech activities, especially in locations where the government's security presence may impact their rights. The petition's argument brings attention to the nuanced considerations that must be made when determining the scope and boundaries of sensitive areas under the law.

"The Second Amendment protects the individual right to possess and carry firearms outside of their home for lawful purposes, including at post offices. But unlike the USPS, we can promise that Attorney General Garland will receive this message on time," FPC President Brandon Combs said in a statement regarding the lawsuit.

Reporter Matt Stringer, writing for the Texan News, emphasized how federal courts in Texas have recently issued a battery of decisions in gun-related cases, siding with challengers to federal gun restriction rules, including regulations on private firearm sales and pistol braces. However, those cases have primarily involved challenges to executive rules that violate or lack authority under congressionally enacted statutes.

The SCOTUS ruling in U.S. V Bruen said that there is a constitutional right to carry a handgun outside the home for self-defense. Meanwhile, in the case of States v. Zackey Rahimi, the same highest court in the land upheld a federal law that prevented anyone from possessing a gun who had a domestic violence restraining order filed against them.

The Facts: Domestic Violence & Guns

zackey rahimi used firearms. police photo

Zackey Rahimi used firearm. police photo.

The Rahimi case challenged the constitutionality of the gun ban under such circumstances. Reporter Amy Howe wrote the following in the SCOTUS blog. 'In 2020, a court in Texas entered a civil protective order against him after Rahimi dragged his then-girlfriend back to his car when she tried to leave after an argument. He pushed her into the car, causing her to hit her head on the dashboard. Rahimi also fired a gun at a bystander who witnessed the incident. The protective order specifically barred Rahimi from having a gun.

A few months later, when Rahimi was a suspect in a series of shootings, police obtained a warrant to search his home. They found a rifle and a pistol, which prompted prosecutors to charge him with violating the federal law at the center of the case.

Rahimi argued that the law violates the Second Amendment, and in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in Bruen, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit agreed. It explained that although the government was not required to identify a "historical twin" to the law, it had not provided the kind of "well-established and representative analog" needed for the law to survive.'

The Plaintiffs in the post office case are represented by attorneys R. Brent Cooper and S. Hunter Walton at Cooper & Scully, P.C. in Dallas, and David H. Thompson and Peter A. Patterson at Cooper & Kirk in Washington, D.C.

Reporter & Editor Clarence Walker can be reached at [email protected]

By Clarence Walker
Clarence Walker Jr. is a Houston-based Senior Reporter and Associate Editor for HoustonNewsToday. Houston Watch | Substack Politics, Policy, Political News - POLITICO Houston Public Media – Houston Public Media is a non-profit organization broadcasting through a multi-media platform to deliver content with a focus Community Impact | News Associated Press News: Breaking News, Latest Headlines and Videos | AP News Business News Daily: Small Business Solutions & Inspiration - BusinessNewsDaily.com

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