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Columns : The Federal Voice

Disarm Before Entering

Despite officer carry rights offered by LEOSA, armed officers are still restricted from entering some public spaces.

May 03, 2018  |  by Jon Adler

It's sadly ironic that the events of 9/11 inspired the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA), but the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City prohibits armed active duty and retired officers from entering. Although par for New York City's anti-gun course, it is nonetheless disheartening that the museum denies access to LEOSA qualified officers. Even worse, there are no weapon lockers for armed law enforcement officers to secure their firearms on the property. I'm so glad the 9/11 Museum has its priorities straight.

Jon Adler
Jon Adler
Prior to the Museum's official opening, 9/11 first responders were invited to a special preview. My former partner and I decided to attend. When we entered the screening area, we were abruptly told by private security that we were not allowed in with our firearms.

Not wanting to shoot the messenger, my partner asked security if there was a place where we could secure our weapons. The security guard ignored the question and repeated his initial statement of, "You're not allowed in with your guns." Realizing this was going to end poorly with one injured security guard, I saw a uniformed Port Authority Police Officer nearby and approached him and explained our predicament. The officer was a gentleman and immediately apologized for the guard's rudeness and the policy. He also thanked us for stepping up during the terrorist attacks. This level of professionalism is typical of Port Authority officers who are squared away and solid.

Unfortunately, the PAPD doesn't have jurisdiction within the 9/11 Museum. We also learned that the "elite" 9/11 Museum security team, as a general practice, was uncooperative with the PAPD. Not wanting us to miss the preview experience, the officer offered to assist us with securing our firearms off-site. We appreciated the courtesy, and we ultimately locked up our firearms and walked back to the museum.

While we weren't looking for anyone to kiss our proverbial rings, we did expect museum staff to be hospitable and allow us to remain armed. As we walked through the museum, my partner and I had the same thought, which was, the 9/11 Museum staff couldn't repel a butterfly much less an active shooter.

Setting aside the staff's rudeness, I'm left wondering why active and retired law enforcement officers are prohibited from carrying in the 9/11 Museum. I could envision an officer coming to New York with his or her family, and wanting to visit the museum. Imagine how dispiriting it is to arrive at the Museum as an armed sworn officer and be told you can't enter.

A total of 72 law enforcement officers made the ultimate sacrifice on 9/11, and numerous others continue to succumb to sustained lethal toxin exposure. Yet somehow, the 9/11 Museum administrators concluded that the way to honor law enforcement is by prohibiting their armed entry.

It's amazing that if 9/11 Museum staff needed to call 911, they would expect armed officers to come to their rescue. Nonetheless, the museum principals remain paralyzed with fear over their nightmare scenario of the Big Bad LEOSA Wolf penetrating the sanctity of their museum. Perhaps a little Google therapy might help to mitigate their fear by revealing an absence of LEOSA horror stories. To the contrary, we read about inspiring stories where LEOSA-qualified retired officers step up to save lives. At the Las Vegas massacre both retired and off-duty officers engaged heroically.

Unfortunately, the 9/11 Museum isn't the only public facility that prohibits armed entry for officers. This "bury your head in the sand" defense only increases the chances of burying innocent bodies deep into the earth. There are practical options for employing a means to identify an armed museum visitor, such as the color of the day systems. In terms of both judgment and skill, I trust the response readiness of an off-duty or retired officer 24/7. If and when the badness were to invade the 9/11 Museum, the staff's manufactured rudeness would be ineffective in stopping it.

I haven't been in the 9/11 Museum since that disheartening first responder preview, so my staff assessment pertains to those who were employed there at the time. Nonetheless, it's not a staff issue, but an executive strategic failure. The terrorists and active shooters will never outnumber us, but all it takes is one of them to wreak havoc in an unarmed victim zone. Why shift the combat odds to the bad guys, while banishing America's finest from a public building?

Comments (20)

Displaying 1 - 20 of 20

Skiman94 @ 5/4/2018 2:40 PM

Truly sad. I'm LEO in Texas, but I was born and raised in NY. Imagine my anger when I go back and have to ditch the 911 Museum because they are doing the very thing that allows innocent people to become victims - restricting legal carry. Because I am definitely carrying in NY!

TJiNY @ 5/4/2018 3:27 PM

How about risking your life on 9-11 at the WTC, and almost getting killed twice as you watched 23 of your co workers get killed along with thousands, and being at the site every day for months. Then being told you can't carry a firearm if you visit the museum! All while the people who run the museum are being paid a fortune.

TJiNY @ 5/4/2018 3:28 PM

How about risking your life on 9-11 at the WTC, and almost getting killed twice as you watched 23 of your co workers get killed along with thousands, and being at the site every day for months. Then being told you can't carry a firearm if you visit the museum! All while the people who run the museum are being paid a fortune.

CaptMidnight @ 5/4/2018 4:29 PM

Same for other Federal Buildings including courthouses.

As a Retired Special Deputy U.S. Marshal, nothing grinds me more than to be told to leave my weapon in the car before entering the building.

Even on duty officers from local depts. are told to check their weapons.

IRS is just as bad with private security armed, but not the POLICE/LEO......

whats wrong with THAT picture?

John A Restaino @ 5/4/2018 8:27 PM

i just dont spend my money there if im not welcomed.....boycott those places!

Capt152 @ 5/5/2018 7:01 AM

As a retired LEO,who worked in NY during 9/11 and lost three brothers that day and am still losing brothers and relative from the sicknesses after that day, When will they learn gun free zones do not work, they mean nothing to the average criminal.I will continue to pay respect to my brothers at local 9/11 services held throughout this country for them. By the way where does ALL the money go that they collect with their large fees..

CA Deputy @ 5/5/2018 9:03 AM

I have been dealing with this for years, and I don’t understand. Many sports venues are the same. No carrying off duty. Also concerts. What’s puzzling to me is that, at least in California, there is no LEGAL DIFFERENCE between on and off duty law enforcement. Ive been told many times to put my firearm in my car. Which then causes other problems. The recent example of the Gilroy Police Chief is one scenario that can happen to all of us. My firearm is safest ON ME. I believe these policies are just a larger part of the anti law enforcement push that has been going on for several years.

Jim B. @ 5/5/2018 9:47 AM

Unfortunately most "public" buildings are like this now in most big cities. Whether is't New York or DC or Chicago, it's been my experience that most museums, exhibit halls or other touristy type places extend the no guns allowed policies to cops. And it seems like most of them don't have storage lockers for you to use on sight. So your forced to leave the gun at home or your hotel room or skip that sight. It sucks.

CaptMidnight already pointed out the problems with federal courthouses. It's utterly ridiculous to show up for a court case, in full uniform, and have to check your pistol at the door. I don't know if most state courts are like that or not but that's been my experience in federal court.

Anthony @ 5/5/2018 9:56 AM

Those 9/11 security people are jerks. Like I always say: if you really WANT TO SEE WHAT SOMEONE IS TRULY LIKE, GIVE THEM POWER. Sad that they can't handle it.

Joe @ 5/5/2018 7:04 PM

Amazing, do they have metal detectors? If not carry concealed but sounds like they have metal detectors. What a joke retired or current we should all be allowed to carry EVERYWHERE! Had an incident in northern California and the officers of San Leandro and the sheriffs office there we're awesome. Great group of people that we're excellent and professional to help me out.

David McConnaughey @ 5/7/2018 5:01 AM

Liberals don't learn because they can't learn. Their ideology is not their political opinion, it's their religion; true believers in the church of liberalism, and they are fanatical about it. There are no facts, evidence or revelation of reality for them. When you know it all, what's to learn? Their religious belief says guns are bad, not people, and their faith and pride prevent them from considering any other facts or possibilities. Any that disagree with them, are beneath contempt to them. That's why they feel no obligation to defer to anyone, or even be civil to those live in reality.

Matt @ 5/8/2018 9:51 AM

I ran into the same when I visited NYC several years ago. I didn't carry to the 9/11 Museum because it was right after the Tennessee woman, with a valid carry permit, was charged for being armed.

I did get booted out of the Empire State Building. I told the screener I was an off-duty Officer and she contacted security. The guy was very nice and explained he was a retired NYPD Detective and he understood me. He did say, "Unfortunately, I work for THE BUILDING now and they do not allow firearms." He gave me directions to the nearest NYPD precinct and told me I could secure my weapon there. Needless to say, I have never toured the Empire State Building.

Joe K. @ 5/12/2018 8:34 AM

How did we get to this stage?

GunnyMack @ 5/14/2018 9:45 AM

I remember visiting my Mother who worked in a Federal Building near the White House. On most occasions you could smell the Odor of Marihuana emitting from the clothing worn by the Security Guards.

Joe Smith @ 5/19/2018 2:40 PM

How did we get to this stage, you ask? Liberal stubbornness. Read David’s comment above. No amount of facts or common sense will convince a liberal zealot.

Gregory F O'Hara @ 5/26/2018 8:49 AM

I got back into Federal Law Enforcement BECAUSE of what took place at the WTC. I was a DOD officer at WPAFB 1978-1979. Between I was in IT and couldn't stand by and watch good people get killed like that again. At age 50 I graduated the FLETC and for the next 12 years, protected the BEP WCF in Fort Worth TX. Even though you are not able to bring a weapon upon the grounds, we made arrangements to have a section of our break room at the Visitor Center turned into a locker section for visiting LEO's to leave their weapons secured and watched over by our officers. The 9/11 Museum should take a hint and start being more accommodating to those who risk their lives daily to protect their butts! SF

john @ 5/26/2018 4:46 PM

There are several casinos in Las Vegas that prohibit off-duty LEO's from carrying at functions. Ditto with the same rudeness by "security" that has to call on-duty LEO to deal with a guy that has had too much to drink. This is AFTER the incident on 1 October!

Carl @ 5/28/2018 7:32 AM

Our church is a gun free zone [not my choice]. We have several Federal agents that attend our church. Certainly they would never carry, would they (*cough* * cough*)?

Nick DeMarco @ 6/2/2018 10:35 AM

I was a chaperone for high school vocational law enforcement and homeland security students and had no idea that firearms were prohibited in the 9-11 museum. I asked the security person at the metal detectors if they provided lockers for me to secure my weapon and he said "no".... eventually my partner and I took turns waiting outside with the others weapon while the other toured the facility... very sad... will never visit again....

gary @ 6/2/2018 12:09 PM

Gosh, I guess I'm not the only one not able to visit the 9-11 memorial during my (probably) once in a lifetime visit to NYC. It was almost closing time and a NYC officer offered to let me store my gun in the pct house. Too far to make it back in time, so I had to skip. She was professional and considerate, though. Thanks!

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