Tab Bonidy was polite enough to ask before he brought a gun into a Colorado post office. In 2010 his lawyer sent a letter to USPS asking whether Bonidy would be prosecuted if he brought a firearm inside the facility or left one in his car while, let's say, purchasing stamps. And he got a response.
According to Thursday's ruling by District Judge Richard Matsch, the USPS legal counsel responded to Bonidy, saying, "Regulations governing conduct on postal property prevent (Bonidy) from carrying firearms, openly or concealed, onto any real property under the charge and control of the Postal Service."
She was referring to Title 39 of the Federal Regulations, which dates back to 1972:
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.
Feeling his rights were being violated, Bonidy teamed up with the National Association for Gun Rights to file suit against this provision.
And they won. Well, at least partially. Judge Matsch maintained that USPS did violate Bonidy's rights by not permitting him to leave a gun in the trunk of his car. But guns inside the post office itself are still forbidden.
Citing the Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller (the case that ended the handgun ban in the District of Columbia), it is still in the federal government's right to deny carrying firearms within the actual buildings. "The Avon Post Office building is used for a governmental purpose by significant numbers of people, with no means of securing their safety;" the judge wrote. "Therefore, it is a sensitive place, and the USPS Regulation is presumed to be valid as applied to the building.... There is no such easy answer as to the public parking lot."
In a press release, the National Association for Gun Rights said it will appeal the decision, with the hope of allowing firearms within the post offices themselves.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
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