Saturday, June 08, 2024

FL: Constitutionality of Ban on Guns in Post Office Appealed to Eleventh Circuit

On January 12, 2024, Judge Kathryn Kimball  ruled the federal ban on possession of firearms in post offices is unconstitutional because it violates the Second Amendment. From the decision:

The United States indicted Emmanuel Ayala, a postal worker, for possessing a firearm in a Federal facility in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 930(a). Ayala argues that statute is unconstitutional as applied to him because the historical record does not support a law banning firearms in post offices. See N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen, 597 U.S. 1 (2022). Relying on dicta from earlier cases, the United States responds that the Second Amendment allows it to punish the bearing of arms inside any government building. But the Supreme Court has been clear: the government must point to historical principles that would permit it to prohibit firearms possession in post offices. See id. at 17, 24. The United States fails to meet that burden. Thus, I dismiss the § 930(a) charge because it violates Ayala’s Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The case was discussed in a previous AmmoLand article.

On February 12, 2024, the Assistant United States Attorney submitted notice to the court the matter would be  appealed the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. From the document:

The United States of America appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit the order granting defendant’s motion to dismiss in part, Doc. 57, and the dismissal of count one, Doc. 58, both entered in this action on January 12, 2024.

On February 13, 2024, Judge Kathryn Kimball issued an administrative stay on the case pending the appeal.

There does not appear to be any significant movement on this case, except the withdrawal of Ross Roberts as the prosecutor in the case.

On May 2, 2024, Ross Roberts Assistant United States Attorney, has withdrawn from the case. Assistant United States Attorney Abigail King will now represent the government in this matter.

USA v Ayala is opposite what happened in Colorado in Bonidy v USPS. Bonidy initially won his case in the District court, in 2012. The USPS appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. The Tenth Circuit reversed the district court and held, because the Heller decision mentioned "government buildings" the USPS could ban guns on any USPS property, in 2015.

Bonidy asked the Supreme Court to hear the case. However, Justice Scalia had died, and the court had only eight members. The Supreme Court refused to hear the Bonidy case in 2016.

The Bruen decision in 2022 slapped down the Tenth Circuit  appeals court approach to the Second Amendment. The guidance under the Bruen decision is clear. Judge Kimball, in the Ayala case, followed the guidance from the Bruen decision, and ruled the ban on guns in the post office is unconstitutional. When the case goes to the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, we will find if the three judge panel on the Eleventh Circuit will follow the clear guidance given by Bruen.

There is no applicable historical precedent for banning guns in post offices. No ban on guns in the post office existed when the Second Amendment was ratified, or at the time of the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. The ban is very recent in Constitutional terms. It was created in 1972.

©2024 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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TPKeller said...

"because the Heller decision mentioned 'government buildings'"

The dishonest misrepresentation of Heller continues.

Since the day Heller was issued, gun-haters, along with gun-hating courts up and down the line, have been lying about the whole "nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt ..." paragraph in Heller. This is irrefutably confirmed when you consider the often-ignored footnote to that paragraph, which states: "We identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures only as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive."

Gun-haters tell us that this paragraph effectively confirmed the constitutionality of "[their] list." Nothing could be further from the truth.

To fully understand the lie, we have to remind the readers what the Heller case was about. The case was whether the Second Amendment protected the right of a citizen to keep an operable firearm in their own home. The District of Columbia had imposed a law that required the owner to "keep any firearm in his possession unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device..."

Heller ruled that this law was in violation of the Second Amendment.

Court cases operate within a certain "scope." Especially Supreme Court cases. They are literally defined by the "question presented" that is asked at the very beginning, often in the Writ of Certiorari. Heller was no different. The Court ruled on the question, in favor of Dick Heller, the plaintiff, that citizens ARE allowed to keep operable firearms within their own homes.

Rumors tell us it was Kennedy's swing vote that was purchased by the inclusion of the subject paragraph, presumably to keep the gun-rights folks from taking Heller "too far." We'll never know, but what has in fact happened is the opposite. That "Kennedy safety valve" has had the opposite effect, giving gun-haters a sound bite that has wrongly convinced the masses (and many courts) that Heller declared all other gun-control laws to be "Constitutional" under the Second Amendment.

So why are they wrong? It's plain English.

"Presumptively lawful." Heller gives a list of "presumptively lawful" restrictions, just to serve as examples that literally defined the Status Quo of gun-control laws at that time. Kennedy's safety valve requirement was presumably designed to prevent the mass overturning of gun-control laws as a result of this narrowly focused opinion from Heller. The term "presumptively lawful" means exactly that. In the context of a court ruling, when discussing issues that are out of scope of the case at hand, it must be presumed that existing laws on the books are indeed lawful. They are literally presumed to be lawful.

Scalia was explicitly telling the world that Heller was not considering those "examples". They were out of scope, which means that yes, they were the current Status Quo, and Heller was not to be interpreted as changing any of them. The gun-haters rewrote that to say "they are constitutional," when in fact, Scalia said, "they're legal - for now - because we aren't considering them."

Scalia left those "presumptively lawful" examples for future cases to decide. Like McDonnell. And Bruen. And those cases have done so, much to the dismay of the gun-haters, who will forever continue to dishonestly point to Heller's "list" as they continue their fight against the Second Amendment.

Dean Weingarten said...

It is not a rumor. Justice Stevens bragged about it in his book, The Making of a Justice.