There was once a time when mass shootings were distinctly tied to post offices. After all, there was a seeming rash of such shootings, so much that the term “going postal” became a thing.
That seems to have died down, which is good news for the folks at the US Postal Service, though it’s picked up in other segments of the population.
However, no one knows when or where the next such shooting will take place. This has created some problems, though, because the two potential approaching to keeping people safe, supposedly, are so diametrically different.
Some want to ban guns from certain places, partially in hopes it’ll somehow prevent violence–it never does, but that’s the “thinking” anyway–and the other is allowing people to carry a firearm.
Which brings us back to post offices.
It’s been illegal to carry a firearm into a post office at the federal level. It’s not a state law, but one our own Congress foisted on us.
A federal judge in Florida ruled a U.S. law that prohibits people from having firearms in post offices to be unconstitutional, the latest court decision declaring gun restrictions violate the Constitution.
U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, a Trump appointee, cited the 2022 Supreme Court ruling “New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen” that expanded gun rights. The 2022 ruling recognized the individual’s right to bear a handgun in public for self-defense.
The judge shared her decision in the indictment that charged Emmanuel Ayala, U.S. Postal Service truck driver, with illegal possession of a firearm in a federal building.
The judge did not dismiss Ayala’s separate charge of resisting arrest, but did note that the firearm charge violated his Second Amendment rights, saying it is “incongruent” with the “American” tradition of “firearms regulations.”
The judge argued, “A blanket restriction on firearms possession in post offices is incongruent with the American tradition of firearms regulation.”
Now, I’m quite sure that a lot of anti-gunners are going to take issue with this. After all, Bruen does say that sensitive places can be gun-free zones, so why can’t a post office be included.
However, the judge notes that post offices have been around since the nation’s founding, yet our Founding Fathers made no effort to ban guns there.
She’s not wrong on that, either.
This creates a debate as to whether lawmakers are limited to just the kinds of places the Founding Fathers would determine to be sensitive places or if they have some discretion.
Judge Mizelle’s ruling suggests the former to be the case, which opens up all kinds of problems for states like New York and California that have named so many places gun-free as to make it damn near illegal to carry a firearm just about anywhere.
These states have decided that since Bruen says some places are, in fact, sensitive, they’ll simply declare almost everywhere sensitive–Bruen warns against that, but they’re trying to push the limits–and they’re not limiting it to just the places the Founding Fathers would have considered as such.
Striking down the post office carry ban, however, is very good news besides the potential ramifications in lawsuits.
The truth is that people who carry often have to take basic errands like trips to the post office under more intense consideration than those who don’t. Do we leave our guns in the car–thus opening up the possibility of theft–or do we go home, disarm, then go to the post office?
With this ruling, possibilities open up where we can treat a trip to get stamps or mail a package like any other errand.
However, this isn’t necessarily a done deal.
What is likely to happen is that this particular ruling is going to get challenged and we’ll see it work through the appeals courts and possibly to the Supreme Court.
So we’re still in a wait-and-see approach, but there’s at least some light at the end of the tunnel.