Question about concealed carry in a Post Office

Recently I’ve been asked about carrying a firearm into a Post Office.  Most people think this is illegal because most Postal facilities have a “No Guns Allowed” sign on the front entrance.  I did some research on this, and found that it is in fact, NOT illegal to carry a firearm into a Post Office as long as certain conditions are met.

The statute in questions is 18 U.S.C. 930 – Possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in Federal Facilities.

(a) Except as provided in subsection (d), whoever knowingly possesses or causes to be present a firearm or other dangerous weapon in a Federal facility (other than a Federal court facility), or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.

However, if we look further down to the exceptions under (d), we find:

(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.

As you can see in (d)(3), it is lawful to carry a firearm into a Federal facility incident to hunting or “other lawful purposes.”  Just what are “other lawful purposes” though?  If you carry a gun into a Federal facility with the intent to commit a crime therein, then it would seem pretty obvious that you are not engaged in “lawful purposes.”  However, if you carry a concealed weapon, with a valid concealed weapons permit, and you are not intending to commit any crimes therein, you should be well within the meaning of “lawful purposes.”

This does not mean that you won’t be harassed or even arrested for carrying a concealed weapon or other dangerous weapon in a Post Office.  We often tell people that law enforcement can do anything they want until you can have a Judge tell them they can’t.  Some law enforcement officers do not know the full scope of where citizens can legally carry firearms, and thus it leaves room for error.

This “lawful purpose” exception does not apply to Federal Court facilities though and you are prohibited from carrying there, even with a valid permit.

18 U.S.C. 930(g)(3) – The term “Federal court facility” means the courtroom, judges’ chambers, witness rooms, jury deliberation rooms, attorney conference rooms, prisoner holding cells, offices of the court clerks, the United States attorney, and the United States marshal, probation and parole offices, and adjoining corridors of any court of the United States.

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19 Comments

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19 responses to “Question about concealed carry in a Post Office

  1. Pingback: Where may one not legally carry a firearm? - USA Carry Forums

  2. Pingback: » Question about concealed carry in a Post Office

  3. Pingback: Supreme Court Finally OK's Gun Rights - Page 3 - mcarterbrown.com

  4. Pingback: Carrying into a post office or bank...thoughts? - XDTalk Forums - Your HS2000/SA-XD Information Source!

  5. You missed the entire point. 18 USC 930 does NOT even apply to the post office. See 39 USC 410. It specifically states in 39USC410(a): that “…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.” (emphasis by capitalization added)

    It goes on to say in section (2) that “all provisions of title 18 dealing with the Postal Service, the mails, and officers or employees of the Government of the United States…” are still in force (i.e. mail fraud, tampering with the mail etc.). But NOT 18 USC 930 which does not deal with the Postal Service but rather federal property in general.

    The Post Office was privatized in 1972. They are specifically NOT permitted to use 18 USC 930 as evidenced from the opening paragraph of 39 USC 410.

  6. Greg

    What about 39 CFR 232.1 ?

    “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.”

    http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=f3887b8fa0e118416f29b270854ddd80&rgn=div8&view=text&node=39:1.0.1.4.22.0.1.1&idno=39

  7. Adam

    Mr. Williamson is INCORRECT in his blog on. He has disregarded 39 CFR 232.1 which supercedes what he posted concerning 18 USC 930. This is the kind of misinformation that can get someone in some serious trouble.

    • rlwesquire

      Adam, if you’ve been reading the discussions regarding carrying a concealed weapon in a Post Office you will note; I am not saying that carrying a concealed weapon in a post office is a guaranteed right for which an absolute legal defense exists. The simple truth is, the “jury is still out”. CFR’s by their nature do not automatically supercede statutes. The can, but only when a high court says so; until then they have “color of law” for notice and enforcement, but are subject to being overturned on review. The apparent conflict can only be resolved by a court which hears the case in an actual circumstance. I am not aware of such a decision “yet” but I have remarked on several occasions that if any decision comes to light, by all means, I would like to see it as some definitive answer on the subject. Our legislature has enacted countless statutes which were struck down by courts as unconstitutional. The issue here is a conflict of laws from administrative and legislative actions, not judicial action. Last time I checked, the system of checks and balances still exists in America. If you don’t think such failsafes exist; why do you think it took until 2008 for the Supreme Court to actually rule on the meaning second Amendment to the Constitution some 200+ years later?! (and might I add, the Supreme Court has the final say, regardless of what the “Just Us” department or congress thinks). You need to think a bit deeper than “the law is the law”. Black letter law is an antiquated concept. Law is a fluid and everchanging beast. My advice to clients has very little to do with “Do this action… you are guaranteed not to get in trouble.” Innocent people get into trouble every day, it is the nature of overreaching legislation and government. Luckily we have a constitution that allows such actions to be challenged and the little guy wins more often than you think. A bluff needs only a caller to be thwarted, but very few in society are willing to call the government’s bluffs. It is this “head in the sand” mentality which has allowed the Federal Government to get away with as much as it has for as long as it has. Mind you, I understand it is not practical for the average citizen to go out “statute testing” on a regular basis and for that reason I would caution anyone about the headaches that could come from toting into a PO and the subsequent legal hassle from the arrest and debate which would certainly follow. My advice is always to avoid confrontation and let the other hotheads like Miranda and Rodney King carry that weight. The public at large always benefits when an individual’s conflict with the law on a questionable basis presses issues to the forefront of the court for review; I just wouldn’t recommend being that individual if you can help it. Stick with testing the laws which have been reviewed and refined, not the ones waiting in the wings; and even then, ALWAYS BE AWARE THAT IT CAN COST MONEY TO BE RIGHT! For my money, I’m waiting until someone else takes that bullet (no pun intended) to put the matter to rest. You can quote CFR’s and USC’s to me all you want, but I’ll wait until the 9 head honchos in DC speak before I go quoting legal scripture to people and toting a gun around in broad daylight in federal buildings “because it is my RIGHT!” Until a high court rules on the matter, the issue is open for debate, of which I welcome your opinion, however sharp and however I might disagree. I am not saying you are downright wrong; please do me the courtesy of the same. If you and I had a bet on the Super Bowl, I’m not going to settle it until the game is actually over!

  8. I wore my pistol into the P.O. once and bought some stamps or sent some mail. However, in later times, I removed my pistol and stored it in my car, went into the P.O. did my “lawful” business, and then went on my way without creating a possible scene by trying to re-holster my weapon inside my waist band holster.
    It would seem to me that to buy stamps, mail letters, would not be to such a threat or impedence as much as the fiddling with disaming and then re-arming oneself.

    • rlwesquire

      You make a very good point. Truth be known, carry laws operate on the premise that law abiding citizens are not the problem; criminals are. In any situation where a law abiding citizen would “need” a gun, it is seldom that having one poses a greater risk to the public than that of the criminal who predicates the need in the abscence of any response. The only concern is that of responsible gun operation by laypersons is adequately addressed by permit requirements for which many require proficiency exams; a measure I greatly support (fact is, the better trained the citizen malitia is the better for all).

      The fear that post offices will become the ok corral is simply unfounded. Most people see the point of individual self defense; what more often miss is the greater point of a citizen’s malitia which GREATLY reduces gun violence in areas where it is maintained. This is partly the reason behind efforts by many to lift the restrictions around schools where adults who carry can, likewise, greatly reduce the incidents of school shootings (why do you thing wackos target schools in the first place?!) Concealed weapons in the hands of law abiding citizens creates both a deterent against criminals preying on unarmed citizens and a means to deal with the isolated cases that may remain. Requiring citizens to constantly disarm and arm creates added anxiety among the public and greater opportunity for the criminal with no real upside to public safety. The law was meant to cover “public” places and the restrictions apply to areas where adequate armed security is both necessary and present or where circumstances such as alcohol or emotions might require, such as bars and sporting events. These restrictions make sense, but how is buying stamps a circumstance of greater risk?

      The point, again, is not one of constantly justifying an individual’s need to carry. For those who who know the Constitution, it was designed around the concept of guaranteed NEGATIVE rights. Put simply, once the citizen has a right, it is the GOVERNMENT”S burden to justify the intrusion. The right to bear arms means that once one’s right to carry a gun is generally established, he can carry it anywhere there is not a justifiable governmental interest to stop him which is enumeratd in law. Armed individuals is the RULE; restriction is the EXCEPTION!

      • I think very little is likely to happen to you in a post office (robbery, assault, shot by postal employee, etc), but you may be robbed when you come out, seeing as crooks will believe you are disarmed and the gun may be in the car, or your auto may be broken while you are inside.

    • Joe

      I guess you never heard of the term “GOING POSTAL”

  9. Mike

    Adam and Greg, you are missing subsection (p)(2), of that regulation, which states “Nothing contained in these rules and regulations shall be construed to abrogate any other Federal laws or regulations of any State and local laws and regulations applicable to any area in which the property is situated.”

  10. Ken

    Mr. Williamson,

    Any comment on U.S. v. Dorosan?

    Ken

    • Ken,

      I really question whether Dorosan will survive appeal. Since the opinion only has precedence for the Eastern District of Louisiana, I still consider this case to be in the judicial process; but it certainly qualifies as a test case that appears to be right on track to settle the issue on a national level.

      Although the Fifth District is considered by many to be a very conservative district, it’s conservative nature goes to the point of agreeing with government controls which have often fallen on the side of conservatives in the past. Usually it is the liberals who are protesting Government action, so the conservative Fifth Circuit has long been the government’s friend. Oddly enough, I consider the gun control issue a hybrid one in that conservatives will most probably find themselves at odds with the same government which for a long time has been ruled by conservatives. It’s not often you find conservatives on the side of individual rights against government intrusion, but that is the root of conservatism before the neocons got hold of it and screwed it up… but that is another issue…

      Gun control is much less about constitutional rights as it is about the exercize of government power on which the two issues are inextricably connected, but most simply fail to recognize the connection. The federal courts in the Fifth Circuit have notoriously sided with the police and government on issues of intrusion by striking down almost every 1983 civil claim for civil rights violation and granting a lot more police power than most. On the second amendment these interests will inevitably clash and conservatives may find new friends in the “pinko” liberals fighting against the government. Numerous state laws recognize the right to keep a gun in the car as an extension of the home, Mississippi’s “gunslinger” law included. It would appear government wants us to fight crime where it is convenient for police, but not when the police want exclusive control (is this jealousy or what… perhaps the cops just don’t like citizens showing them up…). The issue cannot cut both ways.

      I think the rationale in Dorosan is flawed from the beginning. The rationale seems to be that since all rights under the constitution are subject to reasonable restriction, the government can draw the line anywhere it likes. This logic could be used to shoot down every individual right there is if the government wished! (scary, huh?) This is an exercize of power, not rationality; and is EXACTLY what the bill of rights was inended to block, the rationalization of the abridging of basic rights in the name of government.

      I think Dorosan will be affirmed in the Fifth Circuit because they never met a governmental action they did not like, but I think it has a high likelihood of being struck down by our prevailing Supreme Court, especially on the heels of the recent 2nd Amendment case last fall. I think the facts that are most compelling are that as long as the firearm was in a private car in a public parking lot it is simply unreasonable to check it before you enter the property, even for an employee. Where should you leave it? At home? At a lock box at the guard gate? The right to bear arms is infringed if a citizen is prevented from carrying his firearm on the way to work through areas of crime. So long as the weapon is secured and only available for the driver in an emergency, not for general carry purposes, I think the Supreme Court will overturn (assuming they don’t wimp out and choose not to address it… but maybe I’m just assuming they will make a rational call… Let’s hope logic wins out… until then, I will keep my fingers crossed.

      Great cite, btw….

  11. Pingback: Bank Carrying - INGunOwners

  12. If the laws are this damn complicated for free men with no felonies, it tells you how F# up our legal system is.

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