Post office firearms ban faces constitutional challenge

(The Center Square) – A federal ban on carrying guns in post offices is now in question as a legal filing is now challenging whether the ban violates the Constitution.

Two men, Gavin Pate and George Mandry, have filed suit against the Department of Justice over the ban on carrying and storing weapons at federal post office locations.

Pate is an Anglican priest in Arlington, Texas who argues he should be able to keep his weapon on him for personal protection. Pate and Mandry filed suit this week.

“Plaintiff Pate carries, and intends to continue carrying, his personal handgun during his daily activities, which include running errands,” the complaint said. “He is particularly concerned about rising crime in his area. Plaintiff Pate goes to his local United States Post Office in Tarrant County, Texas, once or twice a month. He disarms before entering for fear of arrest and prosecution.

“Because Plaintiff Pate does not like to disarm and lose the ability to defend himself, he mostly uses a local private post office. If he did not have to disarm, Plaintiff Pate would go to his local United States Post Office once or twice a week.”

Mandry is a veteran of the U.S. Navy who previously held security clearances but is not allowed to carry a weapon on post office premises, according to the complaint.

“Plaintiff Mandry’s customers sometimes pay him in cash or in money orders that he cashes at the post office,” the complaint said. “Because he often carries large amounts of cash, Plaintiff Mandry does not like having to disarm when entering the United States Post Office. Plaintiff Mandry would go to his local United States Post Office once a week if he did not have to disarm and lose the ability to defend himself.”

Under U.S. law, 18 U.S.C. § 930(a), prohibits carrying weapons at “federal facilities” which includes the post office, and a violation can lead to fine or time behind bars. Similarly, 39 C.F.R. § 232.1(l) also explicitly bans carrying firearms at a post office, as the complaint points out.

The challengers argue that there is historical precedent for preventing carrying firearms at Congress, courthouses and polling places, where the federal government provides explicit security and protection. However, they argue the federal government does not provide citizens protection at post offices and therefore shouldn’t be able to disarm them, especially since there is no historical precedent for banning firearms at post offices.

“Accordingly, the Middle District of Florida recently held that 18 U.S.C. § 930(a) was unconstitutional as applied to a postal worker indicted for possessing a firearm in a United States Post Office,” the complaint said.

In particular, the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen ruling in 2022 helped pave the way for this argument. In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that New York’s overly strict requirements for carrying a concealed weapon violated Americans’ right to self defense.

The Firearm Firearms Policy Coalition and Second Amendment Foundation are helping lead the legal challenge.

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

By Casey Harper | The Center Square

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