Schumer calls for end to ban on mailing liquor, beer, wine

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) addresses a news

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) addresses a news conference in Washington. (July 25, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

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It's perfectly legal for businesses to ship rifles, shotguns, butane gas and certain small explosives via the U.S. Postal Service. Yet it's a crime to mail a bottle of merlot or a six-pack of oatmeal stout.

Wednesday, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called to overturn the law barring the post office from shipping beer, wine and liquor. The move, he said, would boost New York's growing wine and craft-beer industry and give the beleaguered postal service a needed revenue shot.

"It will be a win, win, win for New York," said Schumer, who is pushing for the change as part of a postal reform bill introduced earlier this year.

Private shipping companies -- including UPS and FedEx -- have long been allowed to deliver alcohol, making beer and wine clubs a key moneymaker for small breweries and wineries.

But Schumer argued that the postal service could offer a cheaper flat-rate option and drive down shipping costs by increasing competition.

That could add some effervescence to Long Island's economy, which includes 82 wineries and 15 breweries. Mark Burford, founder and brewmaster of Blue Point Brewing Co. in Patchogue, said allowing his wares in the mail could expand his reach.

"It would be a really good way to get specialty beers across the country," he said.

The postal ban on aperitifs, digestifs and everything in between stems from a 1909 law barring carriers from delivering "spirituous, vinous, malted, fermented or other intoxicating liquors."

Schumer said lifting that prohibition would allow the postal service to compete better against UPS and FedEx and add $225 million to its annual revenue.

A postal spokeswoman said the agency would raise a glass to that.

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