DENVER - A rural Colorado man and a national gun rights group, through counsel, on June 18 appeared before a Colorado federal district court to argue for a ruling against the U.S. Postal Service in their lawsuit charging that the Postal Service’s ban on possession of firearms on its property violates their right to “keep and bear arms” under the Constitution (Bonidy v. U.S. Postal Service, No 10cv2408 [D. Colo.]).
The district court twice denied the Postal Service’s motion to dismiss the case and required the agency to respond to the complaint. Tab Bonidy, who is licensed to carry a handgun and regularly carries a handgun for self-defense, drives 10 miles roundtrip from his home, where mail delivery is not available, to Avon to collect his mail. On his arrival in Avon, however, he is barred by federal regulation from carrying a firearm, or parking his vehicle if it contains a firearm, on Postal Service land. In a July 2010 letter, Bonidy asked that the regulation be withdrawn; the Postal Service refused. Bonidy and the National Association for Gun Rights filed their lawsuit in October 2010.
“The Second Amendment protects the right to carry; plus, the Postal Service ban is unreasonable under either strict or intermediate scrutiny, and its property is not ‘sensitive’,” said William Perry Pendley of Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF); MSLF represents Bonidy and the group.
In 2007, the Postal Service renewed its total ban on firearms on Postal Service property:
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.
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