Friday, June 24, 2011

Can You Legally Carry A Handgun Into A US Post Office If You Have A Michigan Concealed Pistol License?

Locally, interest on the subject of carrying a firearm in a US Post Office gained in popularity due to a recent shooting incident in Detroit. In that event, it was reported almost a week ago by the local media that an 81 year-old retiree of the Detroit Police Department was attacked by a carjacker as he exited a post office.

At some point during the attack, the retiree produced a handgun and fired several times at his attacker while being struck by a bullet from the attacker's firearm. Although it was not specifically mentioned, there is speculation that the retiree may have had his firearm on his person while in the post office.

A question on the minds of many folks who read that story is whether it is legal to carry a handgun in a post office.

Coverage of pistol free zones (PFZ) - places where certain classes of people can't legally carry a firearm - is addressed in the state of Michigan compliant Concealed Pistol License (CPL) classes that I teach. One such PFZ is US Post Offices.

US Post Offices are federal property and are not specifically addressed in Michigan law. As such, they are not conveniently listed as PFZs on the back of CPLs issued by the state of Michigan. However, the topic of firearms and whether they are allowed on US Post Office property is covered under federal law.

Code of Federal Regulations - Title 39 - Chapter 1 - Part 32 is entitled "Conduct On Postal Property."

Section 232.1(l) states:
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.

Some folks have reasoned that if they are lawfully carrying a firearm on their person then merely either being on postal property or entering a postal facility satisfies the phrase "for official purposes" in the aforementioned law. Moreover, these same people ignore the "No Guns Allowed" sign at the entrance while blissfully believing that if they were ever caught a jury of their peers would vindicate their actions. In essence, they would be willing participants in the first known test case on this area of the law.

On October 14th, 2009, the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the conviction of Clarence Paul Dorosan for violating 39 C.F.R. § 232.1(l). Dorosan, a US mail carrier, was specifically convicted originally for storing a handgun in the glove box of his car while it was parked in the lot belonging to the US Postal Service.

Thusly, if a person is carrying a firearm either onto or into US Post Office facility with the understanding that he'd be a willing participant to be the first test case, he'd be mistaken. We all now know - at least until a higher court overturns this ruling - that carrying a firearm onto or into postal property is settled case law.

As for the retiree mentioned above, he'll probably be okay. He's a senior citizen and an ex-cop. I suspect nobody is "officially" asking and discussing whether he had a gun while on postal property. You and I under similar circumstances may not be so lucky.

You are strongly encouraged to not only conduct your own independent research but to also consult with a competent and qualified attorney before acting upon any information in this article. Laws covering self-defense, lethal force, firearms, and the Michigan Concealed Pistol License and their enforcement are always subject to change due to laws being amended, politics conducted in the Prosecutor's Office, and election results at all levels of government. Ignorance of the law, legally speaking, is not a valid excuse for running afoul of it. The penalties and fines imposed upon violators of firearms related offenses are stiff and severe.

About The Author
Rick Ector is a National Rifle Association credentialed Firearms Trainer, who provides Michigan CCW Class training in Detroit for students at his firearms school - Rick's Firearm Academy of Detroit.

Ector is a recognized expert in firearm safety and has been featured extensively in the national and local media: Associated Press, UPI, NRAnews, Guns Digest, Tactical-Life, The Truth About Guns, The Politics Daily, Fox News Detroit, The Detroit News, The Detroit Examiner, WJLB, WGPR, and the UrbanShooterPodcast.

For more info about free shooting lessons for women and Michigan CCW Classes, please contact:

Rick's Firearm Academy of Detroit
Phone: 313.733.7404

1 comment:

Amateur Wheels said...

I've been following this story. USPS is one of my big frustration points. Being a retired cop he is not exempt, at least the way I read the following:

PS. Rick, your email box is full.