How does this case affect anybody else? It doesn’t. This is an as applied challenge to the 18 U.S.C. §930(a), possessing a firearm in a Federal Facility.
Mr. Emmanuel Ayala was a truck driver hauling mail for the U.S. Postal Service. He had a concealed carry permit from the state of Florida. It appears he was somebody that always carried.
On September 14, 2022, he was carrying as he walked from the employee parking lot and into the post office. Shortly after clocking in, two Post Office cops stopped him and attempted to detain him.
He took off. He was later arrested by the Tampa Police Department.
He was indicted for knowingly bringing a firearm into a Federal facility and for forcibly resisting arrest.
Unfortunately for Mr. Ayala, he is going to get screwed by the state in the end. Not for carrying a firearm, but for resisting arrest. When the cops say they are arresting you, just about any action that isn’t “yes sir, three bags full sir.” and full compliance can get a “resisting arrest” charge piled on.
In some jurisdictions, it is a defense that the arrest was unlawful. In other jurisdictions, Texas for example, it is not.
Once, Mr. Ayala made a motion to dismiss the charges based on a Second Amendment challenge, the court ordered the state to reply.
The state’s reply can be summarized as “The law is constitutional because the Supreme Court said that we can ban guns in government buildings! Besides, we did all the paperwork right!”.
The court was not satisfied with this response.
From our side, once the text of the Second Amendment is implicated in a gun ban case, we only need to look to the Heller methodology and the dicta which says you cannot ban an arm in common use, today.
In other words, we can say that Heller shortcuts the court’s command to do a historical analysis looking for analogous regulations. The Supreme Court says there are none.
The state is arguing, in this case, that they have that shortcut in banning guns in government buildings. The difference is that Heller, McDonald, and Bruen all had as their holdings that gun bans are unconstitutional and that the people have the right to bear arms.
The dicta said how they reached that conclusion and how the inferior courts should do so in the future. A passing reference to not striking down other laws does not mean that those other laws are constitutional.
The Judge had this to say about the state’s first response to the motion to dismiss:
… the United States’ response to Ayala’s Second Amendment challenge was “unhelpful in this task.” App. B at 3. That two-paragraph response lacked any “searching analysis into the historical record to determine whether § 930 as applied to Ayala” complies with the Second Amendment.—Order, United States v. Ayala, 8:22-cr-00369, (M.D. Fla.), No. 22-cr-00369 (M.D. Fla.)
The state constantly attempts to bring experts into the equation. The judge was having none of that:
This order resolves only Ayala’s Second Amendment challenge. The sole relevant facts are that Ayala carried a firearm into an ordinary post office, which neither party disputes. As a result, this issue presents a pure question of law ripe for disposition. Because I conclude that Count I must be dismissed on Second Amendment grounds, I need not consider Ayala’s vagueness challenge. Ayala’s challenge to Count II cannot be resolved on a motion to dismiss because, even if Ayala could have lawfully resisted arrest, the jury must resolve the contested factual issues surrounding his resistance.
She is correct. There are no facts in dispute. He carried the gun into a post office. He says that it is constitutional protected. The plain text of the Second Amendment covers his conduct. The state must present a history and tradition of regulations to support the modern infringement.
The state has failed to provide that history. The experts in questions of law are the lawyers and the judge. “Experts” are not allowed to give legal opinions in court, that is reserved for the lawyers and the judge. The lawyers present the regulations and case law, the judge determines the outcome.
The judge says there are no distinctly similar historical regulations addressing regulating firearms in post offices.
Even if the lack of a distinctly similar historical regulation was not dispositive, the United States has offered no relevant historical analogues
She goes on:
I then dispel two misapprehensions held by the parties. First, nothing in Supreme Court dicta establishes that the United States may ban firearms in all government buildings. Second, the scope of the Second Amendment right is a legal question, not a factual one, and I need not hold an evidentiary hearing to resolve it. Instead, the government bears the burden to identify historical evidence supporting its challenged regulation.
Finally, I explain why the United States errs in arguing that its proprietorship of federal land and buildings excludes vast swathes of the country from the protection of the Second Amendment.
In other words, I must determine “whether modern and historical regulations impose a comparable burden on the right of armed self-defense and whether that burden is comparably justified.” —id. quoting Bruen
Much of the rest of the judge’s order is her doing the work of the state. She repeatedly states that the United States did not show a history nor a tradition of banning firearms in post offices, or government buildings in general.
She is doing this to provide backing for other Second Amendment challenges.
Her words strongly imply that she expects this case to be appealed.
I’m not sure that it will be. The defendant (good guy) got his win. But that win is an “as applies”, which limits it to just him. This is a district court ruling. This limits this to just the Middle District of Florida.
If the state were to appeal this case, it would go to the Eleventh Circuit court, which is highly likely to rule for The People.
If the Circuit Court rules in favor of The People, then that affects everybody in the Eleventh Circuit. The Eleventh Circuit could easily extend this from an “as applied” to a “facial challenge”. If they do make it a facial challenge, then 18 U.S.C. §930 could be found unconstitutional.
No matter how you slice it, this is a great win for The People.