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Judge rules that arrested USPS truck driver had a right to carry a gun for self defense

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A Florida judge recently sided with USPS truck driver who was charged after bringing a gun into a federal building in 2022.

Judge Says Gun Ban In Post Office Is Unconstitutional

In a January 12, 2024 decision, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle dismissed a charge against United States Postal Service (USPS) truck driver Emmanuel Ayala for illegally possessing a firearm in a federal building.

Judge Mizelle found that the charge violated Ayala’s Second Amendment rights.

An additional charge of forcibly resisting arrest was not dismissed.

Why Was The USPS Truck Driver Charged?

Court documents describe the circumstances leading to the charge against Ayala:

Ayala worked for the U.S. Postal Service as a semi-truck driver hauling packages out of a facility located in Tampa. He possesses a Florida concealed carry permit and “ke[pt] his firearm, a Smith & Wesson 9mm, concealed inside his fanny pack” for self-defense while on the job. “[F]rom time to time,” he carried the firearm onto Post Office property when retrieving his semi-truck from work “for extra protection on the short walk” to and from the employee parking lot.

On September 14, 2022, Ayala wore his fanny pack, with the gun inside, as he walked from the employee parking lot through the metal turnstiles and into the post office. After he clocked in, two agents from the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General stopped him and tried to detain him. Ayala fled, but was eventually arrested by officers from the Tampa Police Department. A grand jury indicted him for violating 18 U.S.C. § 930(a) by knowingly bringing a firearm into a Federal facility and 18 U.S.C. § 111 by forcibly resisting arrest.

In response to Alaya’s motion to dismiss the charges, the U.S. Justice Department argued that  “a government building has been deemed a sensitive place that 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.”

Judge Cites Supreme Court Decision On Carrying For Self-Defense

Mizelle’s cited a June 2022 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court (New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen) that found that the Second Amendment protects individuals who carry a gun in public for self defense purposes. The decision also requires that gun laws and restrictions remain “consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

“Whatever the historical record permits with respect to firearms regulation on government property, that legal principle cannot be used to abridge the right to bear arms by regulating it into practical non-existence. For example, take the criminal statute here: It bans knowingly possessing a firearm in a Federal facility, which is defined as “a building or part thereof owned or leased by the Federal Government, where Federal employees are regularly present for the purpose of performing their official duties.” The plain language captures everything from the White House to toll booths in national parks to Social Security Administration buildings. Under this criminal statute, with the proliferation of the federal government comes the diminution of the People’s right to bear arms. At some point, when twenty-eight percent of land in the United States is owned by the federal government and many ordinary activities require frequenting a “Federal facility,” the government’s theory would amount to a nullification of the Second Amendment right altogether,” Mizelle argued.

“A blanket restriction on firearms possession in post offices is incongruent with the American tradition of firearms regulation,” Mizelle wrote, noting that firearms have only been federally illegal in post office locations since 1972.

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