December 27, 2013

Appeal of U.S. Postal Service Gun Ban Lawsuit Briefed

Contact: William Perry Pendley, 303/292-2021, Ext. 30


December 23, 2013 – DENVER, CO. A Colorado man and a national gun rights group today briefed their cross-appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit of the ruling of a Colorado federal district court on Postal Service regulations. In July, the district court struck a rule that bars firearms in Postal Service parking lots as unconstitutional. The court held, “openly carrying a firearm outside the home is a liberty protected by the Second Amendment [and the] parking lot adjacent to [Avon’s Post Office Building] is not a sensitive place [such that] an absolute ban on firearms is substantially related to [Defendants’] important public safety objective.” Tab Bonidy, who is licensed to carry a handgun and regularly carries a handgun for self-defense, must drive to Avon to collect his mail, but once there he is barred by federal regulation from carrying a firearm, or parking his vehicle if it contains a firearm, on Postal Service land. In July 2010, Mr. Bonidy asked that the regulation be withdrawn; the Postal Service refused. Mr. Bonidy and the National Association for Gun Rights filed their lawsuit in October 2010. “We urge the panel to uphold the ruling as to the parking lot and to expand it to Post Offices themselves,” said William Perry Pendley of Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF); MSLF represents Mr. Bonidy and the group.

In 2007, the Postal Service renewed its total ban on firearms on Postal Service property, first promulgated in 1972:

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.

39 C.F.R. § 232.1(l). This regulatory prohibition, which carries a $50 fine or imprisonment for 30 days, or both, is broader than the federal statute, which prohibits private possession of firearms in federal facilities, except those firearms carried “incident to hunting or other lawful purposes.” 18 U.S.C. § 930(d)(3). This statutory exception does not apply in federal court facilities, where a total ban is enforced. 18 U.S.C. § 930(e)(1).

The Postal Service’s total ban on firearms possession impairs the right to keep and bear arms as protected by the Second Amendment even when individuals are traveling to, from, or through Postal property because the Postal Service does not allow people to store a firearm safely in their vehicles. Anyone with a hunting rifle or shotgun in his car, or a handgun in his glove compartment for self-defense, violates the Postal Service ban by driving onto Postal Service property. Thus, the ban also denies the right to keep and bear arms everywhere a law-abiding gun owner travels before and after visiting Postal Service property.

Mountain States Legal Foundation, founded in 1977, is a nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system. Its offices are in suburban Denver, Colorado.

Bonidy v. U.S. Postal Service, No 10cv2408 (D.Colo.)

Diane L. Patrick
Assistant to the President
2596 S. Lewis Way
Lakewood, CO 80227
303/292-2021, Ext. 27

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