2A Groups Team Up to Take Down Post Office Gun Ban

AP Photo/David Goldman, File

The Firearms Policy Coalition and the Second Amendment Foundation are teaming up once again, this time to take on the federal statute that treats all postal facilities as "sensitive places" where guns are banned. 


In a new lawsuit filed in a federal court in Texas, the Second Amendment groups, along with two Texas gun owners, allege the prohibition on firearms is a direct infringement on the right to bear arms. 

The Bruen framework begins with the plain text. If the plaintiffs’ proposed course of conduct falls within the Second Amendment’s plain text, then “the Constitution presumptively protects that conduct.” Importantly, “[n]othing in the Second Amendment’s text draws a home/public distinction,” —or for that matter, any distinction between locations at all. That makes the Second Amendment unlike other Amendments. See U.S. CONST. amend. III (“No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”); U.S. CONST. amend. IV (“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated[.]”). And it means that any locational restrictions on Second Amendment rights must come from history, not from the plain text. 

There is no “well-established, representative historical analogue” for 18 U.S.C.§ 930(a) and 39 C.F.R. § 232.1(l). These laws are unconstitutional under the Second Amendment because they ban the carry of firearms within United States Post Offices and on associated property, such as Post Office parking lots.


As FPC and SAF point out in their initial complaint, at least one other district court judge has already determined that making postal facilities "gun-free zones" violates the Constitution. In United States v. Ayala, a postal worker was indicted for possessing a handgun after he carried his concealed pistol inside a postal facility in Tampa. Emmanual Ayala has a valid Florida carry license, and says he had his pistol with him while hauling packages in a semi. Rather than leave the gun behind in his vehicle, Ayala kept it secured inside a fanny pack when he would enter postal facilities, but in September of 2022 he was stopped by postal inspection officials and was ultimately arrested by the Tampa police for bringing his gun into the facility.

In January of this year, however, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle threw out the charges against Ayala, ruling that the government had not demonstrated a historical tradition of barring guns in postal facilities. 

In sum, two founding-era state governments prohibited individuals from carrying during legislative sessions or at polling places. The lone polling-place restriction applied only on election day and only at the polls. Likewise, the lone legislative restriction did not extend beyond an active session. Accepting these as part of the historical tradition of firearms regulation, the record demonstrates a very limited principle: firearms regulation may be permissible in places to prohibit intimidation or interference with important and legally definitive governmental decisions. Indeed, the Delaware Constitution explicitly justifies its restriction in these terms. Del. Const. art. 28 (1776) (restricting firearms so “[t]hat every elector may, in a peaceable and orderly manner, give in his vote on the said day of election”). This principle could reasonably extend to courthouses and perhaps high-level executive branch offices where weighty decisions with legally determinative consequences are a common occurrence. But such regulations are inarguably limited to locations where important and final governmental decisions are made.

The government has not justified Ayala's prosecution in the light of this principle. On average, the decisions made by post office employees are far from the weighty subject matter of elections or the legislative process. True, during the short window of time before an election, some post offices may receive mail-in ballots, making them more analogous to polling places. But even polling places were not protected indefinitely, instead, restrictions were tailored to the date of an election. That makes sense given the legal reason for these regulations—to prevent intimidation or interference with important government decisions. Thus, a blanket restriction on firearms possession in post offices is incongruent with the American tradition of firearms regulation.


The government has already tried and failed to come with a law from around the time the Second Amendment was ratified that's analogous to the modern prohibition on carrying firearms in post offices, which should make this an easy decision for the federal judge in Texas. Of course, there's nothing stopping the judge assigned to the case from simply adopting the government's position that all government buildings are off-limits to lawful carry, regardless of the lack of analogous statutes, but I'm not particularly worried about that here. FPC v. Garland has been assigned to Judge Reed O'Connor, who recently declared the ATF's rule treating pistol braces as short-barreled rifles null and void. O'Connor clearly isn't a rubber stamp for the gun control lobby, and so long as he faithfully applies the "text, history, and tradition" test laid out in Bruen, I can't see how he could uphold the blanket ban on firearms possession in postal facilities. 

Join the conversation as a VIP Member