A proposal by Sen. Rand Paul to allow guns in post offices is being met with skepticism by the chairman of the committee that oversees the Postal Service.
The Republican from Kentucky floated his measure Wednesday as an amendment to a postal overhaul bill being debated by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The initial reaction from Chairman Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., was not positive, but it's unclear how the votes will turn out.
The panel's scheduled to resume the markup next Thursday, at which point Paul plans to propose a revised version designed to address concerns about Postal Service facilities housed within other federal buildings. Generally speaking, the measure would allow individuals to carry guns in post offices when otherwise carrying the weapon would be in compliance with state and local regulations.
"We had some initial discussion of the amendment and between now and next Thursday we will have a lot more," Carper said. "My first reaction is not to embrace that. I think federal courts have recently ruled the question of whether or not a person can have a shotgun or a weapon in the trunk of their car on a parking lot of a post office."
Carper was referencing a July federal court ruling out of Colorado in which a judge determined that a man with a concealed carry permit could have a firearm in his car while on post office property.
"I think that's a reasonable decision that the court made, and I am not aware of a compelling reason to go beyond that. I thought the court made the right decision in that regard," Carper said.
"When they reconvene, I will bring it back up," Paul said of his amendment in the revised form. "I think there's a good chance we can pass it."
The conservative gun rights group Gun Owners of America of America highlighted the number of Democrats from less liberal-leaning states on the panel chaired by Carper.
"Because the amendment will be offered in Governmental Affairs, a vast percentage of the committee membership consists of conservative Republicans and Democrats running for reelection in conservative states," the group said. "So there is a good chance that we can score a major victory for the Second Amendment if you act now."
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who was present during the committee's debate, said he had also had lots of questions about what Paul proposed.
"He'd indicated that he was going to revise it, so we'll wait to get the revision," Levin said before conceding, "I probably will still oppose it."
"I think the ordinary public, by the way ... the average person shouldn't face guns in any public building. I mean, that's where I'm coming from, so I'm not going to kid anyone about that," Levin said. "But here you're talking about federal buildings and whether or not those buildings should be able to have rules which are adopted that apply to all federal buildings, in this case, the post offices."
Humberto Sanchez contributed to this report.