Carry in Post Offices

Robb posted about being irked that he can’t legally carry his firearm into a Post Office. He can carry at the hospital, shopping malls, his kids soccer games and virtually all public places. What is so special about a Post Office that he is disallowed from carrying their? Of course the answer is there is nothing special about the Post Office that should be grounds for disallowing the carrying defensive tools while picking up your mail. Just as prohibiting blacks from public swimming pools and using the same water fountains as others had no basis other than the bigotry of those making the rules. Still, spending time in a Federal prison isn’t my favorite way of standing by my principles.

That said I had looked into the guns in Post Offices before and had heard others talk of the law being somewhat ambigous. With that background I was going to point out to Robb that according to 18 USC 930, which I’m fairly certain is what I have seen posted on Post Office doors, there are exemptions to the part about fines and imprisonment for “whoever knowingly possesses or causes to be present a firearm or other dangerous weapon in a Federal facility”. These exemptions are never posted on the wall of the post office:

(d) Subsection (a) shall not apply to—

(1) the lawful performance of official duties by an officer, agent, or employee of the United States, a State, or a political subdivision thereof, who is authorized by law to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of any violation of law;

(2) the possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon by a Federal official or a member of the Armed Forces if such possession is authorized by law; or

(3) the lawful carrying of firearms or other dangerous weapons in a Federal facility incident to hunting or other lawful purposes.

Notice the last three words of (d)(3), “other lawful purpose”. Self defense–isn’t that a lawful purpose?

But as I was doing my research on the topic, just to make sure, I ran across this post from a lawyer which says that 18 USC 930 isn’t the controlling law. 39 USC 410 says (emphasis added):

(a) Except as provided by subsection (b) of this section, and except as otherwise provided in this title or insofar as such laws remain in force as rules or regulations of the Postal Service, no Federal law dealing with public or Federal contracts, property, works, officers, employees, budgets, or funds, including the provisions of chapters 5 and 7 of title 5, shall apply to the exercise of the powers of the Postal Service.

(b) The following provisions shall apply to the Postal Service:

(1) section 552 (public information), section 552a (records about individuals), section 552b (open meetings), section 3102 (employment of personal assistants for blind, deaf, or otherwise handicapped employees), section 3110 (restrictions on employment of relatives), section 3333 and chapters 72 (antidiscrimination; right to petition Congress) and 73 (suitability, security, and conduct of employees), section 5520 (withholding city income or employment taxes), and section 5532 (!1) (dual pay) of title 5, except that no regulation issued under such chapters or section shall apply to the Postal Service unless expressly made applicable;

In the Postal rules I found that bringing a firearm onto the property is a rule violation but apparently it is not a felony:

  (l) Weapons and explosives. 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.

  (p) Penalties and other law. (1) Alleged violations of these rules and regulations are heard, and the penalties prescribed herein are imposed, either in a Federal district court or by a Federal magistrate in accordance with applicable court rules. Questions regarding such rules should be directed to the regional counsel for the region involved.
(2) Whoever shall be found guilty of violating the rules and regulations in this section while on property under the charge and control of the Postal Service is subject to fine of not more than $50 or imprisonment of not more than 30 days, or both.

Further reading of the rules revealed you give up your Fourth Amendment rights once you set foot on U.S. Postal Property (232.1 (b)):

  (b) Inspection, recording presence. (1) Purses, briefcases, and other containers brought into, while on, or being removed from the property are subject to inspection. However, items brought directly to a postal facility’s customer mailing acceptance area and deposited in the mail are not subject to inspection, except as provided by section 274 of the Administrative Support Manual. A person arrested for violation of this section may be searched incident to that arrest.

I am not a lawyer. You are receiving this legal review for free and my own personal entertainment. It’s probably worth every penny you paid for it.

5 thoughts on “Carry in Post Offices

  1. It is lawful to mail a long gun through the USPS.
    It must be declared at the counter IIRC.

    How then would one mail such an item, unless it were lawful to deliver to the USPS?

  2. Interesting question!

    I suppose you could go to a third party like Mail Boxes Etc. or Kinkos and have them ship it via USPS. USPS would then pick it do the “dirt work” of putting it on USPS property. Of course if it is being shipped from your gunsmith to your P.O. Box then you have a problem…

  3. IANAL either, but I’d think that mailing a legally mailable firearm would be an “official purpose”, exempt from the restriction.

    To me, the part that really stinks is the fact that it covers all the property, not just inside the building. You can’t even use the drive-through drop box if you’ve got a gun disassembled into its component parts, locked in individual boxes and sealed in concrete in the trunk.

  4. To me, the part that really stinks is the fact that it covers all the property, not just inside the building. You can’t even use the drive-through drop box if you’ve got a gun disassembled into its component parts, locked in individual boxes and sealed in concrete in the trunk.

    Well, then. That removes all incentive for me to disarm before I enter the building if the instant I cross (what? the sidewalk? where’s the actual line?) an undefined threshold I’m a felon. And I’m not going to drive home to drop off my weapon then be disarmed just because I need to mail a 20 lb bag of chinchilla food and pick up a framed Star Wars Commemorative Stamp.

  5. Robb,

    IANAL, but I don’t think it’s a felony rap. It’s a $50 fine and up to 30 days in jail. Not pleasant, but not an extended stay in Club Fed as the girlfriend of Bubba either.

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