I think we've all heard the term "going postal," right? At least it was commonly used among Gen-X and the older Millennial crowds.

We used it to describe when someone got extremely upset. Like uncontrollably upset. While the whole country adopted the term, the true and awful story played out in Oklahoma.

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On an August morning in 1986, a disgruntled mail carrier named Pat Sherrill walked into the US Post Office in Edmond, Oklahoma on a warpath with his supervisors.

The day before, Sherrill had been reprimanded due to his behavior. While he was rumored to be an irritable, sometimes erratic loner, the stress of the job was listed as a big factor in later reports.

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I'm not sure if the USPS still works this way, but I would assume it's similar. Mail carriers are assigned routes based on rank and seniority. The longer you've worked for the post office, the better the route you're assigned... to an extent.

Sherrill's common complaint as a relief letter carrier was that he was continually assigned different routes daily. His job was to fill in for whoever was unavailable, out sick, on vacation, etc... In his attempts to gain a permanent roll, his supervisors would offer the sentiment supervisors offer... "Until something opens up, this is the way it is."

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Unhappy with the lack of favorable resolve, Sherrill became increasingly agitated to the point his supervisors had to write him up for his attitude.

Going Postal

The next morning, in a mindset I think very few could ever understand, Sherrill walked into work with three pistols and ammunition stuffed in a mailbag, seeking what he considered a resolution.

He walked straight to the first supervisor's office and started blasting. He killed his boss in an instant. He looked for the other supervisor who wrote him up the day before, but in a stroke of dumb luck, he was running late that morning.

For whatever reason, he turned to coworkers next. Of the 100 or so people in the building working to sort mail and prep routes, Sherrill casually walked around shooting and killing thirteen others, injuring an additional six.

When SWAT arrived, Sherrill turned the gun on himself and ended his rampage. Thus we have the term "Going Postal."

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A memorial was erected before the 80s were over, and yellow ribbons are still put up around that particular Edmond postal office.

The Relevance

While the Edmond post office shooting was the worst, unimaginable tragedy in that era, the first USPS shooting happened in 1970 in Los Angeles when a postal worker shot and killed his then-supervisor as retribution for a reprimand.

The outcome was a ban on firearms at post offices around the country in 1972.

Fifty years later, that ban was struck down as unconstitutional in federal court.

Self-defense and the Second Amendment

In 2022, a postal carrier in Florida was arrested and charged after he was discovered carrying a firearm on his person. As a concealed carry permit holder, the case made its way to a federal court in the Sunshine State.

The judge in the case determined that Emmanuel Ayala's rights had been violated, and the ban on firearms in post offices may also be unconstitutional.

Whatever the outcome, it's bound to play out in the US Supreme Court.

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