USPS Can Exclude Guns from Post Offices, Parking Lots

Bonidy v. U.S. Postal Service, 2015 WL 3916547 (6/26/15) (Col.) (Published) - A divided 10th okays postal regulations that keep guns out of their buildings and parking lots. Mr. Bonidy has a Colorado concealed-carry permit. He lives in a rural area where the post office doesn't deliver mail. The folks who live there have to pick up their mail at the post office. Mr. Bonidy has to send an unarmed assistant to get his mail. Peterson v. Martinez, 707 F.3d 1197 (10th Cir. 2013), has already settled that no one has a Second Amendment right to carry a concealed firearm outside the home. As for openly-carried guns in the building, the 10th relies on Heller 's statement that "nothing in our opinion should cast doubt on . . . laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as . . . government buildings." The 10th says that, even if dicta, this is "an important emphasis on the narrowness of the holding itself and directly informs its holding." So the other examples the Heller Court gave---prohibitions on firearm possession by felons and the mentally ill and laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial side of arms would likely be unassailable as well. In sum, the right to carry firearms does not apply to federal buildings.

As for openly-carried firearms in public, such as in the parking lot, the 10th first holds that the parking lot and the building are a single unit, especially given the drop-box in the lot. So the Heller dicta applies equally to the parking lot. In the alternative, the 10th assumes that the right to bear arms applies, "although with less force," outside the home. The 10th applies intermediate scrutiny. It makes sense not to apply strict scrutiny, the 10th says, because carrying weapons in public for self-defense poses inherent risks to others. This distinguishes the Second Amendment right from other fundamental rights that require strict scrutiny, such as the right to marry. A factor that favors upholding the regulation is that the government has more flexibility to regulate when it is acting as a proprietor, especially with respect to a regulation that is directly relevant to its business objectives, which include providing a safe environment. for its patrons and employees. The ban was sufficiently tailored to the USPS's safety interest, the 10th rules. And USPS buildings and their parking lots are operated as a single integrated facility.

Judge Tymkovich dissents from the parking-lot ruling.