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Federal Judge: Ban on Guns in U.S. Post Office Facilities Is Unconstitutional

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle ruled that the prohibition against firearms in U.S. Post Office facilities violates the Constitution.

The case revolved around Emmanuel Ayala, a postal worker who had been charged with illegal possession of a firearm in a federal facility. The firearm was a Smith & Wesson 9mm Ayala kept in a fanny pack after obtaining his concealed carry permit.

Ayala framed his case around the Supreme Court of the United States’ Bruen (2022) decision, which found New York’s proper cause requirement unconstitutional and set forth guidelines for weighing the constitutionality of other gun controls in future cases. Those guidelines require that, in order to be valid, gun controls must demonstrate a precedent visible in U.S. history gun law history.

He argued that the prohibition against guns in a federal postal facility is “unconstitutional as applied to him because the historical record does not support a law banning firearms in post offices.”

Mizelle noted that the United States’ response to Ayala’s claim was “that the Second Amendment allows it to punish the bearing of arms inside any government building.”

Specifically, the United States deemed post offices a “sensitive place,” claiming that such a designation means the government can “ban the carrying of firearms while not violating an individual’s Second Amendment rights and is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

But Mizelle rejects the claim, writing:

[Bruen] requires the United States to present historical support for § 930(a)’s application to Ayala, which it fails to do. Post offices have existed since the founding, as have threats to the safety of postal workers and the public entering those locations. Yet the historical record yields no “distinctly similar historical regulation addressing” those safety problems by regulating firearms in post offices….Bruen deems this absence strong evidence of the statute’s unconstitutionality.

Mizelle sided with Ayala in his claim that the law prohibiting guns in a federal postal facility was unconstitutional, writing, “I dismiss the § 930(a) charge because it violates Ayala’s Second Amendment right to bear arms.”

The case is United States v. Ayala, No. 8:22-cr-00369 in the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division.

 

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