Judge rules guns in Post Office parking lot are 2A protected
I've read a copy of the opinion, not online that I can see, and the judge's reasoning seems sound. Here's the core:
"There is no such easy answer as to the public parking lot. The Defendants first assert that USPS' ownership of the lot is, itself, a sufficient basis for the exclusion of firearms. But as the country's First Amendment jurisprudence demonstrates, constitutional freedoms do not end at the government property line. [citation omitted] There is more to a sensitive place analysis than mere government ownership.
Next, Defendants point out that the Fifth Circuit upheld the precise regulation at issue here, after concluding that a USPS employee parking lot qualified as a sensitive place because "the Postal Service used the parking lot for loading mail and staging its mail trucks"; in other words, "as a place of regular government business." United States v. Dorosan, 350 Fed. App'x 874, 875 (5th Cir. 2009) (unpublished).
This case is different. In terms of postal business being conducted in the parking lot, Defendants have offered evidence that there are mailboxes in the lot that patrons may use to drop off mail while driving through. But lone mail receptacles used by an undetermined number of transient patrons is easily distinguishable from the lot at issue in Dorosan, which was regularly used by Postal Service employees for processing high volumes of mail via USPS mail trucks. See Dorosan, 350 Fed. App'x at 875. In addition, there are no restrictions on access to the Avon Post Office parking lot beyond a sign posted at the front of the lot limiting parking to 30 minutes, which is not meaningfully enforced. As shown by the aerial photographs in the record, there is little to distinguish the USPS parking lot from other public parking lots in the near vicinity. By contrast, Dorosan involved a USPS employee parking lot that was enclosed by a gate, with a sign on both entrances warning that vehicles entering the lot were subject to search. [citation omitted]. Therefore, Dorosan's reasoning and facts are not helpful to Defendants' position.
Considering other indicia of sensitive places, an official, core government function is not performed in the Avon Post Office parking lot; rather, except for the presence of a few mailboxes, the lot merely facilitates the government function taking place inside by giving patrons a place to park. The government business done in the parking lot is thus not of the "same extent or nature as that done in schools, post offices, and courthouses." Doe v. Wilmington Housing Auth., 880 F. Supp. 2d 513, 532 (D. Del. 2012) (applying reasoning to common areas of public housing). Moreover, Defendants have offered no evidence that a substantial number of people congregate or are present in the parking lot. Cf. Nordyke v. King, 563 F.3d 439, 459-60 (9th Cir. 2009) (noting parking lots of public buildings "[seem] odd as a 'sensitive place,'" because they are not "places where high numbers of people might congregate"), vacated on other grounds by 611 F.3d 1015 (9th Cir. 2010). And while patrons may reasonably expect that the Postal Service will take measures to keep the parking lot safe, that ex-pectation is less compelling than the expectation of safety inside the building, where the USPS does business and exercises greater control."
"In sum, openly carrying a firearm outside the home is a liberty protected by the Second Amendment. The Avon Post Office Building is a sensitive place and the ban imposed by the USPS Regulation is a presumptively valid restriction of that liberty. The Plaintiff has failed to present evidence to rebut that presumption. The parking lot adjacent to the building is not a sensitive place and the Defendants have failed to show that an absolute ban on firearms is substantially related to their important public safety objective."