The Truth About Firearms On Post Office Property

Posted: April 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

Have you heard about the recent court ruling that overturned the ban on firearms on post office property? Online gun forums have been buzzing about it, major news outlets have written about it, and even many of my fellow firearm instructors were singing its praises at a recent instructor course I attended. The only problem is the law prohibiting firearms on postal property is still very much alive, and the case everyone is talking about didn’t do any of the things everyone thinks it did.

Let’s start from the beginning. In 1972, the Postal Service enacted 39 C.F.R. § 232.1(l ), which provides:

Weapons and explosives. Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law, rule or regulation, 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.
.
As you can see, the regulation not only prohibits carrying a firearm into a post office building, but it also prohibits firearm possession (or storage) anywhere on postal property.  A violation of this regulation may result in a fine, imprisonment up to thirty days, or both. Although it is rarely enforced with regards to USPS parking lots, there are several cases of unfortunate self-defense enthusiasts getting hit with charges for merely storing firearms in their vehicles on postal property.
38 years after the USPS enacted their prohibition against firearms, one brave Colorado resident named Tab Bonidy wrote a letter to his local post office in Avon, Colorado (population 6,365) asking them if he would be prosecuted for carrying his firearm onto the post office property. Legal counsel for the post office responded with a resounding yes, stating:
“The regulations governing Conduct on Postal Property prevent [Mr. Bonidy] from carrying firearms, openly or concealed, onto any real property under the charge and control of the Postal Service…. There are limited exceptions to this policy that would not apply here.”

 

If your name was Tab Bonidy, you could legally store a firearm in this parking lot.

If your name was Tab Bonidy, you could legally store a firearm in this parking lot. But your name isn’t Tab Bonidy, so you’d just go to jail.

Given that Mr. Bonidy wasn’t about to give up defending himself or collecting his mail, he did the only logical thing he could think of and went postal  sued the USPS. In his complaint Mr. Bonidy claimed  39 C.F.R. § 232.1(l ) violated his second amendment right to keep and bear arms. On July 9, 2013 a United States Judicial District Court for the District of Colorado agreed with him and issued an injunction prohibiting USPS from enforcing 39 C.F.R. § 232.1(l ). Great news! The problem is the court issued a very limited ruling. So narrow in fact that the ruling apparently only applies to Mr. Bonidy and the parking lot of the Avon Post Office, under the specific circumstances set forth in the case. Unless your name is Tab Bonidy and you are looking to carry a gun in the parking lot of the Avon Post Office, this case doesn’t really help you. To be concise, the court’s ruling was worded as follows:
ORDERED, that the Defendants take such action as is necessary to permit Tab Bonidy to use the public parking lot adjacent to the Avon Post Office Building with a firearm authorized by his Concealed Carry Permit secured in his car in a reasonably prescribed manner. Bonidy v. U.S. Postal Serv., No. 10-CV-02408-RPM, 2013 WL 3448130 (D. Colo. July 9, 2013)
.
As evidenced by the court’s order, the court doesn’t attempt to overturn 39 C.F.R. § 232.1(l ) nor does it extend its ruling anywhere outside of the Avon post office. The judicial district court ruling on this case was one of 94 different judicial district courts in America. Although the Bonidy decision sets great precedent, it is unfortunately not binding on the other 93 districts. Unless you want to be the test case for your district, you probably don’t want to start carrying on postal property.
In sum, even though the Bonidy case is great and we all wish it overturned the prohibition against carrying on postal property, it simply doesn’t.  For most of us, it is still every bit as illegal to possess a firearm on postal property today as it has been since 1972. Now that you know, tell your friends.
Advertisements
Comments
  1. James says:

    Thank you very much. My problem is there is no parking close without parking on their property.

  2. how do you mail a gun, if you cant take the gun to the USPO? 🙂

  3. rcho64 says:

    It sounds to me like 20 million firearms owners in America need to send a letter to their local post office, asking if they will be prosecuted for carrying their personal defense firearm on postal property. If the response received is m, yes, they should reply with a copy of this ruling, requesting that the post office makes the necessary arrangements for the same…. If those provisions are not afforded, a lawsuit, citing this case would seem to favor the citizen with second amendment protections.