The Law

Rand Paul Wants You to Come to the Post Office Packing


Senator Rand Paul on Jan. 9

Photograph by Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

Senator Rand Paul on Jan. 9

People have many ideas about how to improve the U.S. Postal Service. One of the most intriguing was put forth this week by Senator Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican, who is angling to run for president in 2016. At a hearing this week, Paul recommended overturning a federal law forbidding people to bring guns to the post office when they are mailing letters.

The Washington Post’s Lisa Rein reports that Paul’s “gun rights amendment would allow licensed gun owners to carry weapons inside post offices, rather than having to unholster them and keep them in the car.”

It’s difficult to understand how this would help the Postal Service, which lost $5 billion last year because of the rise of e-mail and a federal law requiring the agency to prefund its retiree health benefits. Perhaps Paul is just trying to endear himself to gun owners who are likely to vote in the GOP presidential primary?

It’s tempting to be cynical, but we would rather give Paul the benefit of the doubt and speculate about how he thinks his amendment might actually enhance the experience of postal customers.

You’ll be able to negotiate better prices. Some conservatives are upset that the USPS has raised stamp prices. The Postal Service is a government monopoly. People can’t shop around for a better price. Customers who display their weapons at the counter are likely to be in a better bargaining position.

No more long lines. Nobody likes to wait when it’s time to mail a package. Customers who fire off a shot or two may find that their fellow citizens are happy to let them go first. Postal workers may be more eager to move the process along, too, so gun owners can be on their way swiftly.

It will hasten the Postal Service’s demise. If Congress gets bogged down in a silly debate about bringing weapons to the post office, the USPS might run out of money and collapse. Maybe that’s what Paul and his supporters want? Then they could mail all their Christmas presents through UPS. That’s fine, as long as they don’t mind late gift arrivals.

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Leonard is a staff writer for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York.

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