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Federal judge rules it unconstitutional to ban guns from post offices

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A federal judge in Florida ruled that a U.S. law prohibiting people from possessing firearms inside post offices is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, an appointee of former President Trump, cited a 2022 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that expanded gun rights when she handed down her ruling Friday that dismissed part of an indictment charging a postal worker with illegally possessing a gun in a federal facility.

The 2022 Supreme Court ruling New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen recognized a person’s right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense and established a new test for assessing firearms restrictions that it said must be “consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

Mizelle said the charge against U.S. Postal Service truck driver Emmanuel Ayala violated his right to keep and bear arms under the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

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“[A] blanket restriction on firearms possession in post offices is incongruent with the American tradition of firearms regulation,” she wrote.

But the judge declined to dismiss a separate charge for forcibly resisting arrest.

Ayala, who works in Tampa, had a concealed weapons permit and held a Smith & Wesson 9mm handgun in a fanny pack for self-defense, according to his lawyers.

Prosecutors said he brought the gun onto Postal Service property in 2012 and ran from federal agents when they attempted to detain him, and he was later indicted.

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Post Office truck

Ayala was charged under a statute that broadly prohibits possessing a firearm in a federal facility, including a post office.

Mizelle said post offices have existed since the country’s founding and federal law did not ban guns in government buildings until 1964 and post offices until 1972. She said there is no historical practice dating back to the 1700s that justifies the ban.

The judge said allowing the federal government to restrict visitors from bringing guns into government facilities would allow it to “abridge the right to bear arms by regulating it into practical non-existence.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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