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—
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.