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Does the LEOSA Carry Law Apply to You?

The law is not as cut-and-dried as you think. And much of what you hear about it is wrong.

January 17, 2014  |  by James M. Baranowski

Photo: Mark W. Clark
Photo: Mark W. Clark

Having served in the Marine Corps, I am familiar with the perils of scuttlebutt, an old Navy term for water cooler talk that now means rumors and gossip. In law enforcement, a lot of the recent scuttlebutt focuses on off-duty and retired officer carry laws, covering what you can and cannot do under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA).

Signed into law on July 22, 2004, by President George W. Bush and codified as 18 U.S.C. §§ 926B & C, LEOSA was intended to afford qualified active (QLEO) and qualified retired law enforcement officers (QRLEO) the privilege of carrying a concealed firearm in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and all other U.S. possessions (except the Canal Zone) notwithstanding any other provision of the law of any state or political subdivision thereof.

LEOSA sounds pretty cut and dried. But unfortunately, it isn't.

Vague language, confusing amendments, and a relative shortage of interpretive case law have allowed scuttlebutt and confusion to take over common sense application of its principles. And clarifying this law and what it means for law enforcement officers and retired law enforcement officers is a large part of my job as attorney for the National Rifle Association.

Qualification Requirements

Initially intended to apply only to people who are QLEO and QRLEO, LEOSA was amended in both 2010 and 2013, opening the door to individuals separated after an aggregate of 10 years or more service as an active, reserve, auxiliary, or volunteer law enforcement officer, as well as military and DOD police and law enforcement officers. In addition, LEOSA now applies for active law enforcement officers of the Amtrak Police Department, Federal Reserve, and executive branch of the Federal Government, even if they lack statutory powers of arrest. However, because of a failure to remain consistent with the language used in both parts of the statute, those without arrest authority are unable to qualify upon separation.

While many agencies argue that only full-time officers qualify for the privileges afforded by LEOSA, the plain language of the statute and case law interpreting it prove otherwise.

In The People of the State of New York v. Arthur Rodriguez (Indictment # 2917/06 (NY. Sup. Ct. 2006), the New York Supreme Court found that Rodriguez, a Pennsylvania Constable (despite constables not being paid a salary by any municipal subdivision and working more like independent contractors paid on a per job basis), was in fact employed by the court and qualified for protection under LEOSA.

The U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia took a similar position in an amicus brief filed in the Superior Court of D.C. case of District of Columbia v. Barbusin (Criminal No. 2012-CDC-00913). Barbusin, a special police officer of the District of Columbia Protective Services Police Department, asserted LEOSA protection following charges stemming from the alleged illegal possession of an assault weapon in the District. While the case was ultimately dismissed with prejudice due to Brady violations, the language of the government's amicus brief is instructive on the issue. In the brief, the government notes that LEOSA's definition of a "qualified law enforcement officer" is to be read broadly and that a defendant producing evidence supporting the performance of law enforcement activities such as those outlined in LEOSA satisfies "LEOSA's broad definition of a 'qualified law enforcement officer.'"

Another argument frequently raised by agencies hostile to LEOSA is that an individual must possess both law enforcement authority and agency authorization to carry a firearm while off duty in order to qualify for LEOSA. In one of the few criminal cases to examine this issue, People v. Booth, 862 N.Y.S.2d 767, (NY. Co. Ct. 2008), the defendant, a Coast Guard reservist, was charged with the crime of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Second Degree after a loaded handgun was found in a compartment underneath the seat of the vehicle in which he was traveling. Even though Booth was off duty at the time of his arrest and did not possess agency authority to carry while off duty, the Court found that Booth's duties in the Coast Guard, which were defined "as the prevention, detection, [and] investigation of violations of the law" as well as his "authority and duty to arrest violators" and qualification to carry a firearm, despite its time and place restrictions, qualified him for LEOSA and exempted him from prosecution under New York State Law. Id. at 770.

Reliance on scuttlebutt surrounding qualification requirements and failing to recognize LEOSA's preemptive authority over state law can be costly. In People of the State of California v. Jose Diaz, Case No. 7GF00494 (Cal. Sup. Ct. 2007), a Coast Guard boarding officer was arrested under Cal. Pen. Code § 12031(A)(1) for carrying a loaded firearm in his vehicle while in a public place. At the time of his arrest, Diaz was traveling with a cased firearm and loaded magazine in the back seat of his automobile. The charge was  dismissed on oral motion by the prosecutor after it became evident to the City that LEOSA preempted Diaz's prosecution. Diaz sued for a violation of his civil rights, Diaz v. City of San Fernando, et al., Case No. PC044139 (Cal. Sup. Ct. 2011). The civil suit settled outside of court, and the Settlement and Release Agreement entered into between Diaz and the City resulted in a $43,500 payment to Diaz and a redraft of the City's police training standards on LEOSA.

ID Issues

As members of the Coast Guard, both Booth and Diaz qualified for LEOSA prior to a recent amendment to the statute. With the new language, however, they likely do not.

On Jan. 2, 2013, LEOSA was amended to specifically allow for active and "retired" (as defined by LEOSA) military and DOD police and law enforcement officers with UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) apprehension authority to qualify for the statute; however, also hidden within the amendment was language mandating that all QLEOs now carry a photographic ID that "identifies the employee as a police or law enforcement officer of the agency," and that QRLEOs carry a photographic ID "that identifies the person as having been employed as a police or law enforcement officer."

The DOD has not amended its own policy on LEOSA, DODI 5525.12, resulting in an inability for many that are now able to qualify, and those that previously did, to obtain the requisite photographic identification card. A standard CAC or blue retiree card will not work for LEOSA purposes, as the photographic ID needed to identify the individual as either being actively or having once been employed as a police or law enforcement officer of the agency.

While enacted in an effort to limit the ability to qualify for LEOSA to only those military and DOD personnel that served in a police or law enforcement billet, this change will likely cause substantial difficulties for many non-DOD law enforcement officers that already have significant problems obtaining the required identification cards from their agencies, and especially for those who qualify but do not hold, or never held, the title of police or law enforcement officer. This problem is only compounded by the fact that LEOSA does not bestow either an explicit right to obtain the required photographic ID or a federal remedy for an agency's failure to issue one.

This issue has been challenged multiple times in state court and the denying agency has always prevailed; first, in the 2007 case of McKinley v. City of Topeka, Case No. 06-C-376, and then again in the 2010 cases of Moore, et al. V. Trent, et al, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133038 (E.D. Illinois 2010) and Johnson v. NY State Dept. of Corrections, 709 F.Supp.2d 178 (N.D.N.Y. 2010). In all of these cases it was found that as long as the agency's denial is not arbitrary or capricious there is no remedy available to the individual who is denied issuance of an identification card.

Despite the lack of ability for many to demand a qualifying ID card, QRLEOs of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Federal Bureau of Prisons; the Office of Inspector General (insofar as the retiree exercised statutory law enforcement authority at the time of his retirement); and the U.S. Marshals Service are in luck. In a January 31, 2005 memo to the agencies, the Attorney General of the United States provided guidance on the application of LEOSA and directed that IDs "shall be issued" to QRLEOs.

Gun-Free Zones

Another area rife with confusion is where an individual may carry under the protections afforded by LEOSA. Despite its intent, LEOSA does not preempt all state laws.

Explicitly written into the statute are several areas considered off limits to those carrying under LEOSA such as restrictions imposed by private persons or entities on their property and those imposed on state or local government property, installations, buildings, and parks. What is not included in the statute is where problems may arise.

Per 18 U.S.C. § 930(a) an individual is prohibited from possessing or attempting to possess a firearm in a federal facility, which is broadly defined in the statute to include "a building or part thereof owned or leased by the federal government, where federal employees are regularly present for the purpose of performing their official duties."

While the ban on possession in federal facilities appears to be well understood and recognized by those carrying under LEOSA, the exemptions which allow individuals with a state-issued permit to carry concealed firearms in federal park lands and through GFSZs (gun-free school zones) are not.

The exemptions for these areas (36 C.F.R. §§ 2.4(e) & (h), 18 U.S.C. § 922(q)) allow for individuals carrying concealed in accordance with the laws of the state in which the federal park or GFSZ is located to carry concealed in them; however, an individual carrying under LEOSA is carrying under federal law and not in accordance with the laws of the state they are in. What this means is that you are not exempted from carrying a concealed firearm in these areas UNLESS you are on official duty or possess a valid and qualifying state-issued concealed carry permit.

Don't think this applies to you? Think again. Go check out your local planning department's Website or take a quick look at the map below taken from the San Francisco Planning Department's Website (http://www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx?page=2337). Most cities are so laden with GFSZs that it is virtually impossible to travel anywhere without inadvertently passing through one of them.

While it was once reasonable to assume that professional courtesy would eliminate the probability of prosecution based on a violation in one of these areas, that all changed last year when a QRLEO was charged while walking through an alleged GFSZ in New York City. While the case is still in its infancy, the fact that charges were brought highlights the importance of understanding your surroundings despite LEOSA's other protections, especially in notoriously unfriendly gun rights environments like New York.

What You Can Carry

LEOSA specifically prohibits certain firearms such as machineguns and destructive devices, as well as silencers, but the law is silent on other types of firearms. Many assume that the law only applies to handguns; however, most firearms capable of being concealed are covered. An examination of the legislative history, as well as two cases addressing the issue, clearly demonstrates that LEOSA applies to all firearms except those specifically exempted.

During initial debate in the House on this issue, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) proposed an amendment to add "semi-automatic assault weapons" to the firearms excluded from exemption under the statute, arguing:

"Since we have decided that people, without authority to carry firearms, even in their own agency, who may have no training, can carry concealed weapons in violation of the local ordinances and local agency regulations, we just want to make sure that this bill does not allow them to carry military assault weapons concealed in violation of local laws and regulations."

Scott's amendment was rejected.

Furthermore, in his dissenting view of the equivalent Senate bill, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) made clear that this Act is not limited only to the possession of handguns, noting:

"It is equally clear, however, that off-duty and retired officers do not need to carry concealed shotguns, sniper rifles, or other weapons that their own police departments have not authorized them to carry. The Committee's failure to limit the bill to authorized police weapons—or even to handguns, as New Jersey law provides—will further undermine the safety of American communities."

In People v. Peterson out of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit, Will County, Ill., the defendant was indicted for the class 3 felony of Unlawful Use of a Weapon for knowingly possessing a modified rifle with a barrel less than 16 inches in length. The court dismissed the case, finding that LEOSA applied to the defendant, that "LEOSA does not provide definitions as to the issue of carry or concealment…", and that the state not only failed to provide evidence sufficient to prove that firearms rendered illegal by state law are protected by LEOSA, but also that "at trial it is the State's burden to prove each element of the offense charged," and that "[b]y these findings, it would be impossible for the State to do so." Decision and Order, page 3.

The issue was also litigated in the Barbusin case mentioned above. Again, while the case was never decided, the AG's memo again proves instructive. Highlighting the fact that "Congress made clear that the term 'firearm' 'has the same meaning' as in 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3)…" which "defines a 'firearm' as 'any weapon…which will…expel a projectile by the action of an explosive,'" it was determined that Barbusin's AR-15 satisfied "this broad definition."

Qualifying Yearly

This interpretation of the law makes a fallacy of the argument many departments and qualified instructors make that QRLEOs must qualify yearly on every firearm they intend to carry under the privilege of LEOSA, and not simply on each type, including handguns, long guns, and shotguns.

As most retirees unable to qualify with the department or agency they separated from are well aware, a cottage industry of instructors claiming to posses the ability to perform LEOSA qualifications has emerged. LEOSA is clear that QRLEOs must meet "the standards for qualification in firearms training for active law enforcement officers as determined by the former agency of the individual, the State in which the individual resides or, if the State has not established such standards, either a law enforcement agency within the State in which the individual resides or the standards used by a certified firearms instructor that is qualified to conduct a firearms qualification test for active duty officers within that State."

While some states do afford NRA Law Enforcement Certified Instructors with the qualification to perform this test to retired officers, most states do not. Accordingly, many individuals performing LEOSA qualifications do not possess the authority to do so. In addition, it is common for these individuals to inform QRLEOs that they must qualify on every firearm they intend to carry, generating additional fees under a false reading of the law.

As the legislative history, statute, and case law make clear, if you qualify on one type of firearm, you can carry any firearm of that type under LEOSA. Accordingly, qualifying with a handgun enables you to carry any handgun under LEOSA, be it pistol or revolver. No separate qualification is necessary unless the state or agency has a different qualification standard for it. 

James M. Baranowski is Associate Litigation Counsel at the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action and a member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA). He is a decorated combat veteran, having served in the United States Marine Corps both as an officer with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion and as a judge advocate.

Tags: LEOSA


Comments (91)

Displaying 1 - 91 of 91

Glenn Wheeler @ 1/19/2014 10:01 PM

Great article with some good info that helps to clear up some grey areas of LEOSA. Thank you for posting it.

Garry L. Adams @ 1/20/2014 10:21 AM

Why then has this not become mandated for city agencies to issue these ID's? How can this provision apply to those that have seperated with less then 20 but greater then10 years of service get an ID? I have been trying for 14 years to get the Lee's Summit Mo. police dept. to issue an ID and for fellow officer's, but sense it is not "shall" or mandated they will not issue, unless you have 20+ years.

Todd @ 1/20/2014 12:57 PM

Great read. There are still a great many issues with its law, the application within the states, and the content, but many of the issues that are hardest to grasp are covered here. There is still a very small amount of case law, and I appreciate some being explained here.

Ordinary Joe @ 1/20/2014 1:01 PM

@Garry Adams, You could try to sue them?

Had my LEOSA permit for a year. Never had any issues.

Capt. Crunch @ 1/20/2014 1:26 PM

Thanks for nothing Pres. Bush, now that you got involved professional curiosity is against the law and the idiot we have now for president makes things worst.

David Phillips @ 1/20/2014 1:41 PM

Who would arrest a fellow officer ?
Liberal, Anti-Gun States is where it appears to be occurring .
Go Figure 😡

David Phillips @ 1/20/2014 1:43 PM

Gary, it sounds like local politics at its worst 😳

TheRookie @ 1/20/2014 5:14 PM

Each time a new Sheriff is elected he/she has their own set of construed policies, and/or addendums to the current SOP. I found it impossible to get the required ID from a whole New Department Administration, County Commission, Personal Director, and/or County Manager/Executive. Don't know how Police Departments are on this, but would bet some are the same way.

Robby @ 1/21/2014 5:49 AM

The biggest problem for me is being coast Guard with law enforcement powers. I cannot Cary under leosa because our IDs say nothing about being law enforcement. But under 14USC89 it states petty commissioned and warrant officers have law Enforcement powers and on my id it says Petty Officer but that is it goods enough for this law.

Marshal @ 1/21/2014 10:47 AM

Pretty chicken shit to write another officer for carrying a gun unless the officer is doing something else illegal.

ROGER PRINCE @ 1/21/2014 3:30 PM

NEVER HARRAS A RETIRED OFFICER UNLESS HE IS COMMITING A CRIME. I HAVE BEEN RETIRED 20 YEARS NOW AND STILL WHOULD REUP IF I WASNT OLDER. BUT I ALWAYS SHOWED RESPECT FOR GUYS THAT WERE RETIRED THEY PAVED THE WAY FOR ME………..PEACE BROTHERS

GLM @ 1/21/2014 3:51 PM

Capt. Crunch... that is perhaps the dumbest comment I have heard in a long time...

perry @ 1/21/2014 6:41 PM

Capt. Crunch(Capt.Lamebrain")
I hope you're comment wasn't directed to Roger Prince. He was exactly right. If it was, you must be one of those "wanna-be-cops that just couldn't make it. Pschological problem is what it sounds like to me. Good call on whomever made it!!!!!

Tipsovr @ 1/22/2014 2:54 AM

I noticed a theme in the law suits listed in the article. NY & CA; the two most anti-gun states we have. Perhaps this article should be mandatory in-service training material in those two states (actually every state should provide this info to all LE agencies). Good write up. Thanks

Joe Kimble @ 1/22/2014 6:47 AM

I have had my LEOSA permit for 4 years with no problems. I have been stopped twice on traffic stops, and advised the officer that I was a retired Trooper with a LEOSA permit (twice in Michigan and once in Nebraska) and had several loaded handguns in the car. None of the officers even wanted to see the guns (as I believe they had a right to do).

Right after I obtained my LEOSA permit/credentials 4 years ago, I attended a Federal Training class at a Federal facility. I called ahead and all I had to do was unload the pistol and keep it locked in my car while on site. Other Federal facilities explicitly state by signage at their doors, prohibit any CCW on site.

I have always felt that if you do not flash the gun use common sense, that is half the battle. Even in NYC, I know there is a small chance I could have some trouble. But the gun will never be visible unless my life or my wife's depends on some action on my part.

Great article.

Smgcat @ 1/22/2014 9:26 AM

This law has just gone crazy, with everyone that has jumped in on the bandwagon, some of the folks claiming they fall under the law, I know don't have the training and everyday experience that civilian LE has, and even that was broken down after the law came out so that probably is not a correct statement anymore.

Rev. Anthony L. Lisi, D.D @ 1/22/2014 9:32 AM

Why can't retired law offiicers have a non-profit national organization where they can register that they are a retired law officer and so proven and be issued an ID card that is excepted by this goverment.

Capt. Crunch @ 1/22/2014 12:10 PM

perry (space cadet) for your info I agree with Roger Prince. So WTF are you talking about. If you are a LEO (which I don't believe you are) I hope you read your Penal Code better then you read these comments.

John @ 1/22/2014 5:42 PM

Joe Kimbel " he has it right."

Bill Sorrentino Sr @ 1/22/2014 7:32 PM

Great article. I have been preaching most of what was written since the LEOSA was first established. Be sure to carry a copy of the LEOSA law and this article when traveling.
Professional Courtesy: I first became a cop March, 1970. I remember one time in 71 I pursued 3 perps at 1AM for breaking into a car. Being a NYC Transit cop, we had no partners. We also did not have radios. Now here I am middle of the night on a side street with three perps at gunpoint, trying to handcuff at least two. All of a sudden a car pulls up and three guys jump out with guns drawn asking; “Can you use some help?” We got them all cuffed and they helped me walk the perps back to the subway station so I could call for backup. Where did these off duty cops work: Newark, New Jersey. They were in the city having a good time. Technically, all three were committing a felony by having a firearm in New York City. Did I care, nope. I said thanks for the help and they left.
I‘m still working. March will be 44 years.

Jim @ 1/23/2014 4:56 AM

It's obvious by the way these laws, LEOSA and Concealed Carry (especially in Illinois) are written,that many politicians would rather have their fellow criminals carry firearms, than trained law enforcement officers.

zato @ 1/23/2014 5:47 AM

Just remember old school law I am my brother's keeper ??? pro. courtesy.. and keep it moving .. new generation need to remember they will be retired one day and stop acting like hard nose jerks ...

zato @ 1/23/2014 5:48 AM

Great info .. active officers need to remember they will to b retired one day ???

CW @ 1/23/2014 7:39 AM

I retired to AZ and gun laws are pretty loose here. You see people carrying open at the grocery store in my town. I think carrying open makes you a target but it is what it is. Remember my retired brothers, the cops today are brave and they are warriors, but there is really no professional courtesy any more. Another subject. Sad

CW @ 1/23/2014 7:39 AM

I retired to AZ and gun laws are pretty loose here. You see people carrying open at the grocery store in my town. I think carrying open makes you a target but it is what it is. Remember my retired brothers, the cops today are brave and they are warriors, but there is really no professional courtesy any more. Another subject. Sad

Ernest Howey @ 1/23/2014 11:03 AM

I am retired and vested rights of 15 years and one bullet hole later. my
police department ( Sunrise Police Dept. ) will not let me qualify or issue me a
ID card ( QRLEO ). I paid my dues and I would do it all again.
Trying to obtain more information

Barbusin @ 1/23/2014 5:27 PM

Mr Baranowski, If you are going to write about my case, please attempt to contact me first or at least write my correct title. First, I'm a Police Officer, NOT a special police officer as outline in your article. The Judges ruling confirms this fact, prior to the dismissal on Brady. Second Judge Richter, made a serious error in the interpretation of LEOSA. His view, was strictly by the words in the law "CARRY CONCEALED". Because the weapon was NOT on my person, but locked in my house, He said that LEOSA was not applicable to this case. This in my opinion, would have been overturned on appeal if it went that far. There is enough case law including the Peterson case to prove otherwise. In the US Attorney Brief, although they said I was a LEO and the weapon was covered, they also said that I had to "Prove" I made arrests, which the law (LEOSA) doesn't require. Since I made plenty of arrests this would not have been a issue. Everyone adds their own twist to LEOSA how they see fit.

SnowCop @ 1/24/2014 2:52 AM

Just to expand on the broadness of the legislation... Would it be possible for an active LEO from another country, like Canada or Mexico to carry? The legislation does not specify that the person has to be employed in the US. I am employed by the Canadian Federal Government. I have arrest authority in Canada. I can't bring my sidearm into the US without special authorization, however under LEOSA, would it be legal for a US colleague to loan me a weapon for concealed carry, say while on a course, etc?
I have no plans to do this, but for the sake of discussion. What do you think?

legalbeagle @ 1/24/2014 6:58 AM

Barbusin, I have followed your case for some time and never noted anything in the record ruling that PSPD officers are anything more than SPOs. I also don't see anything in the article regarding the carrying issue, but as you raise this in your comment I would strongly encourage you to check with your counsel to see who authored the brief that brought the Peterson case to the court's attention before attempting to educate the author on the law. Appears to me that the only thing you are right about is that everyone does add their own twist.

Tom Kasprzak @ 1/24/2014 8:52 AM

I think the key is the ID that "qualifies" you under LEOSA. No LEOSA ID no LEOSA. I understand the GFSZ's present a problem as you may not be familiar with every single school in every town you pass through. Corrective legislation was allegedly filed to correct it. I don't know if it has or hasn't. I retired from a state law enforcement agency and unbelievably our colonel provided a correctly worded card but we had to return to our Boston HQ to sign for it. I live in FL now and the local county sheriff's office charges RQLEOS $50 for their firearms instructors to recertify us each year. They do so with a friendly, professional manner and honestly it's a no sweat course and I do qualify with both a semi and a revolver. The above letter says that is not required but since there is no additional charge I do it. We receive a satisfactory completion card signed by the instructors and it's done right. I carry FLs CCWP which is reciprocal in 34 states. "Shall issue" ids are a must for RLEOs.

uslawman1983 @ 1/24/2014 12:10 PM

I'm a 31 year veteran in FL and readying for retirement later this year. I will be relocating to TN (both gun friendly states) and plan to qualify with the local agency in the new home state. I'll then keep my LEOSA permit and "retired" credentials with me at all times. Here in FL we come into contact with vacationing and retired LEO's frequently. I'm always glad to know that they're carrying when they ask me about it. It might be ME that they help out in a bad situation. I have traveled to many states over the years and have always had a gun with me and have never had a problem, even in NYC when I went to Freedom Park, when I saw the No Firearms Sign, I alerted an on duty NYPD sarge, badged and advised him I was armed. He said "no problem, we get visiting cops here all the time", we walked out to a squad car on stationary post, I secured my weapon, spare mag and knife in the trunk and exchanged numbers. Came back an hour later, got my gun back, no problems. Thanks NYPD!

rleon271 @ 1/24/2014 2:47 PM

I started my career in 1982 with Essex County PD, NJ. Then I got laid off in May 1991 & then hired by East Orange PD, NJ in Oct 1991. I voluntarily resigned (in good standing) in Oct 1998 to relocate out of state. So if I'm reading this correctly, under the amendments to LEOSA, I would qualify. Is that correct??

MValentine @ 1/25/2014 11:29 AM

A very good article. Facts are accurate but some conclusions I might no agree with. It is now almost 10 years since the act was passed and for those ten years those who meet the statutory criteria are barred from conviction with or without the proper credential. The credential is to make the person easier to identify but it does not create the authority. With the new DOD inclusion of Jan 2013, now a year old and never implemented, retired military agents of OSI, USMC, NCIS and CID are still protected by the amended law. They are forced to carry their old credential because their agencies continue to drag their heels about issuance. But whether a person in covered by LEOSA is not determined by whether their agencies have issued a retiree credential.

Ron @ 1/25/2014 1:55 PM

Can we simply get an effort from the U.S. Attorney General to simplify this entire matter?

Joe steuer @ 1/25/2014 8:36 PM

I don't believe you want any opinion from the current U.S. Attorney General. He would most likely render his opinion that NO retired or active LEO while not on duty should be allowed to carry any handgun period. Thanks for a great article which I found very informative. I have been retired from full time LE and never had a problem. But, I am still concerned about carrying in Maryland, Chicago or D.C. Right or wrong, I still believe some of our "brothers" would lock us up should there be a situation where you had to produce your weapon. I really hope that would not be the case.

Mark @ 1/25/2014 9:24 PM

I travel frequently for pleasure, and I decided years ago to completely boycott states that would target me as a criminal after a successful career and retirement as a LEO, simply for carrying a firearm. I refuse to set foot in Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, California, and DC. My dollars stay in gun friendly states. Thank God I am retired. The lack of professional courtesy in law enforcement is appalling. I can understand arresting a retired or off duty LEO if they are acting foolishly or criminally, but for simply minding their own business and going armed, no way. I may just be the guy that saves your behind when you need help, and it would be wise for current LEO's to remember that.

Henry Eversole @ 1/26/2014 9:15 AM

First, I want thank you all for your service. Remember that the general public does not understand the concept that many men and women have taken an Oath to protect them and that Oath extends beyond your active service. It is a Bell that you cannot unwring. Also that the laws that are written are not written with good Intention, but to make political mileage for those Politicians and for the Media Hype (AKA to Make Money). We must all be true to our Oath and show respect to each other. I am not a LEO, however I served six in the US ARMY, in a number of positions and I took an Oath that cannot be undone. I believe in that Oath and would not hesitate to place myself in harm’s way to protect others as I have in the past. Information and knowledge are our best weapons in our struggle. Those of us not on active should remain proficient in our skills. When involved with active duty personnel give them every respect they deserve, as they are doing their job and are on the cutting edge.

Mario Corletto @ 1/26/2014 9:15 PM

I want to know why is it that if federal law states that retired LEO's don't need to obtain a local carrying permit, the NYPD forces their retirees to pay a fingerprint fee of prints they already have in the system, in order to obtain said carrying permit. The NYPD forces their retirees to invoice their weapons until a carrying permit is obtained.

mario corletto @ 1/26/2014 10:34 PM

Why is it that the NYPD asks their retirees to obtain a concealed carry permit when the federal law states that no local permit is required. The NYPD is known to violate a great deal of federal laws pertaining to their current and past members.

Curt @ 1/28/2014 4:16 PM

Please Clarify the 10 years of Service. Does this mean if you serve 10 years as an LEO even through you are not "retired" under any pension or retirement plan, but left law enforcement voluntarily you can qualify for the QRLEO?

Monte Tatum @ 1/28/2014 4:23 PM

I was going to visit California from Florida and called their highway dept. Legal and was told they did not honor the LEosa. I would be arrested if found to have a firearm. I cancelled the trip. We need a national carry permit that all states will honor. Thank you for the informative article.

Dennis @ 1/28/2014 7:21 PM

I qualify once a year and have my endorsement. No problems. I am retired from a California State agency as an Investigator/Peace Officer. I think a lot of agencies are not well versed on the LEOSA. I have to admit, my dept. dragged their feet for a couple years before they wrote a policy to comply with the Federal Law and its intent. Other depts. need to get on board. Articles like this won will help.

Hank @ 1/29/2014 4:32 AM

Fuck it keep that smoker strapped at all times and....Keep your powder dry!

Hank @ 1/29/2014 4:34 AM

I say keep that smoker strapped at all times and keep your powder dry!

Brian @ 1/29/2014 4:51 AM

Thanks Hank for repeating your classy and profound thoughts....

James @ 1/29/2014 10:14 AM

While a great article, this does have a bad interpretation as LEOSA applies to US Coast Guard boarding officers and boarding team members.

Under 14USC89A, ALL USCG personnel E4 and above are qualified law enforcement officers. To satisfy the ID requirement, the military ID card stating "US Coast Guard" and rank "E4/PO3" or above should suffice, as before. While it doesn't say "police" it DOES show LE authority.

Carrying a copy of the Boarding officer letter would show qualification in firearms, as keeping a current letter shows that you have qualified in firearms and are authorized to perform LE by your command.

Ralph @ 1/29/2014 6:50 PM

Great to have the info

MAN @ 1/29/2014 7:21 PM

I agree with many of the statements, especially those concerning the education of so many agencies needing to know and follow the LEOSA. My department didn't seem too concerned until I reminded them that they too would retire someday. Since retirement I have travel our great country and spoken with many of our brothers and sisters, active and retired about the LEOSA. I found many who are not aware of it and those who are say that they wouldn't jerk a fellow retiree around for carrying, even those in FL. I guess I am one of the lucky ones who received my retired shield and photo ID as a parting gift. Now I qualify annually during departmental qualifications with the active guys.

LawMan5643 @ 1/30/2014 11:40 AM

I currently work for the Cook County Sheriff's Department correctional division, Chicago Illinois. Our Illinois Training & Standards board doesn't recognize us as law enforcement officers because we have corrections behind our title. Our badges & Id's state Deputy Sheriff, Cook County Sheriff. I've never heard of a jail being a correctional institution, at best we're a detention center. I was wondering if this law applies to us or not?

NYPD29373 @ 1/30/2014 2:24 PM

No to LEOSA. More guns more murders, like that cop in the FL movie theatre.

Greg P. @ 1/31/2014 11:05 AM

LEOSA makes those who benefit from it look terrible.It appears as an abuse of power and reeks of corruption.The constitution guarantees the right to keep and bear arms.All qualifying citizens should have the same options given by LEOSA to the LE community. The public should have to qualify just like a LEO but they should have the same options. Giving LEO's "special treatment" as the LEOSA does casts a dark shadow on us all.The second amendment is very clear-The right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.It is infringed in many states.For the record-to the haters out there-I am a retired LEO with 31 years of service.I want no special treatment.I want my sons who are not LEO's to be able to protect themselves and their families,and carry a weapon.The truth is they are likely more qualified to do so then many so called professionals out there. We all know professional LEO's that have no business carrying a weapon.We are not special and should not be treated as such.

Mark @ 2/1/2014 8:00 PM

NYPD29373: Typical NY arrogance. Do you really mean to tell me that when you retire, you won't seek the option to carry? I can just hear it now, "well yes, because I'm NYPD and entitled, but no one else should be allowed". Like it or not, it is the law, even though your agency routinely ignores it. Wouldn't catch me dead in NYC. I have 30+ years of experience and good judgement. What makes you better than me?

Mark @ 2/1/2014 8:32 PM

And while I'm on a roll....... I'm driving down the street minding my own business, and I come across you shot, with the gunman standing over you. Are you really saying you don't want my help? How can I if not properly equipped. I think many of the active duty guys think us old guys are out to steal their thunder. Not so. We just want to protect ourselves, our families, and the innocent. I didn't just suddenly forget all of my training and experience the day I retired. Believe me, I am not looking for trouble.

Enviro cop @ 2/2/2014 12:51 PM

LEOSA is a good law because by having Active and Retired LEOS in the Malls and Streets of America We can stop these Psychopaths from harming the innocent.

Greg P. @ 2/3/2014 8:37 AM

Not sure if your remarks were directed towards me Mark but I am not in New York and I also avoid the state like the plague. If the remarks were not a comment on my post, I apologize for this post being irrelevant.

Mark @ 2/3/2014 9:23 AM

Greg: No sir, not directed at you at all!

Will @ 2/9/2014 2:59 PM

I am a retired military policeman with 22 years of LEO experience. I hear that my branch of service is going to be issuing RLEO credentials this fall through a contractor. I must say that I will be very hesitant to conceal carry under LEOSA. if some active cops are so ignorant of LESOA, that they would hook and book a retired cop from their own sate, I can only imagine how they would treat me.

Rob @ 2/11/2014 5:31 PM

This is a very informative article. Thank you for posting it. I am a 13 year veteran of the USAF as a Security Specialist (Security Police), now they are called Security Forces, who carried everyday and qualified every year. I got out with an honorable discharge due to a medical disability so I retain my benefits. My ID card does not say anything about what I did in the USAF. I think they should make the changes necessary to issue new ID cards that would allow me to carry under the law. But that's just my opinion.

Martin @ 2/11/2014 7:09 PM

18 USC 930 (a) DOES NOT PROHIBIT carrying a firearm in federal facilities. There is a specific exemption in sub (d)(3) of the statute for carrying "incident to hunting or other lawful purposes." other than of course courthouses, US Attys offices and certain places where separate prohibitions exist such as military bases.

Martin @ 2/11/2014 7:19 PM

I also disagree with your virw that qualification on a revolver also qualifies you to carry a semiautomatic and vive verda

Martin @ 2/11/2014 7:22 PM

I meant vice versa. Sub (d)(2)(ii) of 18 USC 926 (c) is unequivocal about firearm type and your interpretation pushes an envelope no retired officer should attempt absent a court case that says otherwise

Steve smithton @ 2/12/2014 3:46 PM

This law is so confusing ( I am a full time LEO)that I would never carry my duty weapon out of state. This law needs to be more clear and allow retired LEO's carry after they retire. My Dept. Does not allow retired or disabled LEO's to qualify annually.

Eric Coastie Norton @ 2/12/2014 9:36 PM

I find agencies that do not issue a specific LEOSA ID cred (or a LEOSA endorsement on current QRLEO ID) are making the proper implementation and interpretation of this law difficult. In addition, the ability to qualify IAW your agency is definitely a problem if you relocate out of state or an area your federal agency has no presence. So I just carry my CG Ret creds and got a state issued CCW and NO PROBLEM. Something to think about also, as QRLEO's we should never have to clear leather or use our weapon unless it's in the defense of ourselves or others life or limb. So in short.........No one should no we have it. Just my opinion. Be safe.....Be strong!

I was a LEOSA case @ 2/13/2014 2:33 PM

The new revision to the law specifies that your ID include a "Law Enforcement Title". It does not say that it has to specifically name you "police" or "Law Enforcement Officer". The author has got that part wrong. In the Coast Guard, PO3, CPO, CWO, etc ARE in fact Law Enforcement titles because of 14USC89A. If a local police department wants to create a title of "Lead Tap Dancer" for it's officers and put that on an ID, that is a law enforcement title in that particular agency, and as long as all of the other criteria are met, that officer should be covered.

tommy @ 2/14/2014 4:04 PM

Send to all security and leo's

Frank53 @ 2/15/2014 2:23 PM

Interesting part of the article that references the "type of firearm". Always believed and was told if you want to carry a revolver, need to qualify with a revolver..same for semi auto...appears if one qualifies with a "handgun", good to go on both. I gave up carrying a revolver just for that reason..too much of a hassle.

dodcop233 @ 2/19/2014 6:29 PM

On February 13, 2014, DODI 5525.12 was amended to instruct all DOD components including the Military to issue ID cards for current law enforcement officers military and civilian stating basically they do qualify under HR 218. Also retired members will be issued retired law enforcement officers ID cards if they meet the required conditions. DODI 5525.12 is available on line.

Nick @ 2/22/2014 6:24 PM

30+ years as a full time police officer. Retired pending a discipline hearing. Won arbitration case and award of $$$ settlement. Now the head of agency refuses to issue me my retirement credentials. It was a violation of policy no criminal case. I did receive 30 day suspension and they took my money out of the settlement $$$ being one months pay. Still head of agency will not issue me retirement credentials. Question violation of my rights?

JOHN MYLETT @ 2/24/2014 11:21 AM

Former USCG Boarding Officer and former Police Officer: There is no question in my mind USCG law enforcement personnel beyond CGIS should be issued federal law enforcement credentials; USCG should transport and book our own federal prisoners into jail and we should also receive All the monetary assets seized by our own agency. Let the DEA destroy the drugs and let the DEA and CGIS and ICE follow up on the investigations of our drug seizures and arrests. USCG is the only branch of the u.s. armed forces with civilian arrest authority and we exercise that authority with distinction every day every where usually under extremely dangerous conditions. It's high time our USCG law enforcement personnel receive the proper recognition we have earned for so many years and the issuance of a shield and credentials is basic and has been overlooked for entirely too long.

JOHN MYLETT @ 2/24/2014 12:21 PM

@ Nick: Interesting although a bit ambiguous. Did you in fact, retire or are you still on the job what is your current status with the p.d.; active or retired? You state you prevailed in arbitration and rcv'd money was the award for "back pay" or punitive sanctions or both? Regard to "Retired LEO credentials" you need to take a close hard look into dept policy and procedures to find out whether the "Chief" has discretionary authority to issue or withhold retired credentials. Seems to me from your set of facts you were made Whole by the process and restored to full benefits which would include your retired credentials. Look into the policy and procedures of your dept. and do so quietly otherwise you may find a sudden amendment to the policy and procedures of your dept. Good luck Bro

Tanner @ 2/28/2014 5:24 PM

One problem that has been identified, are officers that honorably retire from an agency, receive their permit ID, then move out-of-state. The retirement agency (Sacramento Sheriff for one) claims that the officers MUST return once a year to their original agency to qualify and one every 5 years to get a new expired ID card.

James @ 2/28/2014 9:10 PM

This article is, I believe, in error regarding USCG. Uscg is in and of itself an LE agency and not under DOD. Petty officers, warrant officers, and commissioned officers of the USCG have statutory LE status under 14USC89, which is why, in the USCG cases, they were covered with their CAC cards since it showed they were petty officers.

gen lee @ 3/4/2014 9:06 PM

This so called author is a straight RAT from the PSP. Google his name. He rolled on several troopers. He has no respect. He cost the citizens of PA several millions of dollars. RAT RAT RAT

Bruce @ 3/5/2014 7:49 PM

I am a paid, active, level III reserve for 10 years. I carry a department issued duty weapon when working. I do have a ccw for my state. Am I covered under LEOSA?

Doug @ 3/11/2014 9:22 AM

@gen lee, the author never served in the PSP or even in Law Enforcement. After leaving the Marine Corps following over 8 years of service he transitioned into the NRA. Get your facts straight before attempting to slander him. Also have the intestinal fortitude to list you real name if you are going to take to a public forum to spread such misinformation.

Doug @ 3/11/2014 9:26 AM

@gen lee, see the last paragraph of the article and cross reference that with your so called "RAT". You're a clown.

James M. Baranowski is Associate Litigation Counsel at the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action and a member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA). He is a decorated combat veteran, having served in the United States Marine Corps both as an officer with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion and as a judge advocate.

Sgt. Long @ 3/11/2014 7:29 PM

As a police veteran going into year 26, I can assure every LEO reading this article that neither I nor anyone working with me will be engaging in this stupidity of harassing or arresting/charging another LEO, of any status, for carrying a weapon within or through Georgia. As with most stupidity brought on by politicians and certain police agencies that are too thick to "get it", it falls to all of us active duty LEO's to apply the common sense and discretion to application of certain laws. This law cries out for it. As an aside. To various officers from "unfriendly" states and agencies. Even if you won't offer me the same courtesy in your state, regardless of the reason, I will, without hesitation, provide you with safe passage and hospitality while within my jurisdiction. Part of what a good cop does, is to look after his fellow cops, prosecutors, deputies, etc. If I can get you back home safe or to your destination without delay, I will have served the LEO family well. Stay safe!

Robert Scarbrough @ 3/15/2014 4:12 PM

AS a retired police officer, we are to read the laws and not put anything in between the lines. Both LESOA and QRLWOs are cleard for all 50 states, as written. Photo ID should be issued by dept you served in or under. We should be forming a charter and know what we represent and still maintain a standard that we live by. I know that as I pass a brother who is in the enforcement of his duties I look to make sure he is OK. Thre only statement I can make is that we who are retired and those who are active is to keep each other safe and cover the 6 because you can't depend on anyone else except one another. As for CA and Ny is or they our brothers or not that is for them to decide, but as for me I will still defend them to the end because the wear the uniform of honor and put their life on the line and I respecct them for that. ENOUGH SAID I salut all my brother law enforcement officers both active and retired.

Jim Christensen @ 3/25/2014 12:43 PM

I am in the same boat as many where I can't get a ID after working for 12 years in LE. I have contacted every politician I can requesting that the ID be issued by Fed DOJ once proof of employement for greater than 10 years can be shown. In California proof can be obtained through POST, which I have.

John Mylett @ 3/29/2014 10:08 AM

With regard to US Coast Guard and Leosa. It's a unique situation with obvious problems for our law enforcement personnel. Clearly, there is no issue at all when the officer is in uniform on land or at sea. USCG leo's are highly visible on land at ports around the country and overseas armed like any other federal leo and there isn't any local state or other federal leo who will challenge USCG L/E authority. It's the "off duty" issue which is raised and often challenged at the local level. Typically, these cases originate from a traffic stop and a consent to search or search incident to arrest, etc... Do I believe a cook in the coast guard should be covered under leosa? No. Suppose the cook is an "E-4 or above"? My answer remains, NO. USCG has many positions where law enforcement is the primary role and not a collateral duty, per se. The personnel within USCG whose primary role is law enforcement should be given proper l/e credentials; ie. "U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Law Enforcement.

Ret. Sgt Rick Kaufmann, M @ 3/29/2014 3:34 PM

Great series (most) of comments. I "founded", wrote, got official approval, and taught Maryland's LEOSA course at its inception until I retired in 2013. I carry everywhere except Federal property. No problems. Maryland absolutely respects LEOSA as long as you are sober and carrying LEOSA credentials. If you either retired as a MD LE with retiree ID,, or reside here with your out of state retiree ID, your agency in MD or the Maryland Police Training Commission will re-qualify you and issue your ID. Maryland police are NOT antigun and respect LEOSA. SGT (RET) RICK KAUFMANN.

ol' sarge @ 3/31/2014 2:18 AM

Although I don't know Ret. Sgt. Kaufmann, I completely agree with his post. I am a Ret. Sgt. myself, from a MD municipal agency (31 years). I have never heard of any retired or out-of-state officer being arrested who had a valid LEOSA permit. I also have a valid MD handgun permit as well as my LEOSA permit and most retired officers I know carry both permits. That is based on the premis that if you miss your yearly LEOSA range date, your at least covered in-state until you can get requalified. For those who have problems getting ID, etc. I suggest you look into getting a FL CCW. I used to have one before LEOSA as my parents retired to FL. FL didn't require you to live in FL and had reciprocity agreements with a number of other states. So if you live in the southeast or visit there, you may want to consider that option.

Howard @ 4/3/2014 1:36 PM

USCG Petty Officers and above ARE federal LEO's according to the CCF.

Howard @ 4/3/2014 1:39 PM

USCG enlisted Petty Officers and above, including officers are Federal Law Enforcement Officers according to the Code of Federal Regulations, the books the Coast Guard use most frequently. 12 year veteran.

Charles Rall @ 4/6/2014 10:25 AM

Retired LEOs who are in compliance with LEOSA should be able to legally carry on federal property and like myself I am retired LEO and Military should legally be permitted to carry on military installations

Bruce Wilson @ 4/6/2014 8:06 PM

If you ask REP. KEITH ELLISON (D-MN), this genius thinks we should just get rid of the 2nd amendment. How do these pathetic communistic liberals get elected??? Of course they don't want any guns in the hands of citizens; that will make it easier for the commi troops to take over.

We have arrived at a society that is driven by slimy politicians, joined at the hip by slimy lawyers, and supported by a slimy, mega rich Media that literally get away with name it and claim it as their only requisite for governing the lives of the very citizens that got them where they are--we bare the cost of their insanity.

The media has literally elected our last several Presidents; yack away with all kinds of false rhetoric long enough and a bunch of thoughtless souls will run to the poles armed with their votes...

Where are all the intelligent votersWHERE ARE THEY???

Why are we not saturating public forums with real, known, factual statistics showing gun deaths -vs- senseless car crashes?

robert @ 4/7/2014 11:04 PM

I retired as a deputy sheriff in 2001 with 25 years of service here in dallas county,texas.i was stopped in a small town in another county neary for speeding.yes I was speeding 70 in a 65.i informed the officer I had a gun and he went nuts. he cuffed me and placed me in the squad car.i had my dl,retired id,dept carry license and dept retired id..he made my wife stand in the cold weather while he called for backup and searched my car.he found my shoulder rig and laid everything on the hood. next a supervisor was called. all this time and my wife was still standing in the cold.the supervisor stuck his head in the car and ask me why I thought I had the right to be carrying the gun.i repeated the laws to him and made sure he saw all my id's. he said he had never heard of that law. he called my old agency to verify who I was ad to check on the law.even after it was explained to him he repeated he had never heard of that law. I told him the law was printed on the carry id in my badge case.

robert @ 4/7/2014 11:04 PM

I retired as a deputy sheriff in 2001 with 25 years of service here in dallas county,texas.i was stopped in a small town in another county neary for speeding.yes I was speeding 70 in a 65.i informed the officer I had a gun and he went nuts. he cuffed me and placed me in the squad car.i had my dl,retired id,dept carry license and dept retired id..he made my wife stand in the cold weather while he called for backup and searched my car.he found my shoulder rig and laid everything on the hood. next a supervisor was called. all this time and my wife was still standing in the cold.the supervisor stuck his head in the car and ask me why I thought I had the right to be carrying the gun.i repeated the laws to him and made sure he saw all my id's. he said he had never heard of that law. he called my old agency to verify who I was ad to check on the law.even after it was explained to him he repeated he had never heard of that law. I told him the law was printed on the carry id in my badge case.

robert @ 4/7/2014 11:04 PM

I retired as a deputy sheriff in 2001 with 25 years of service here in dallas county,texas.i was stopped in a small town in another county neary for speeding.yes I was speeding 70 in a 65.i informed the officer I had a gun and he went nuts. he cuffed me and placed me in the squad car.i had my dl,retired id,dept carry license and dept retired id..he made my wife stand in the cold weather while he called for backup and searched my car.he found my shoulder rig and laid everything on the hood. next a supervisor was called. all this time and my wife was still standing in the cold.the supervisor stuck his head in the car and ask me why I thought I had the right to be carrying the gun.i repeated the laws to him and made sure he saw all my id's. he said he had never heard of that law. he called my old agency to verify who I was ad to check on the law.even after it was explained to him he repeated he had never heard of that law. I told him the law was printed on the carry id in my badge case.

robert @ 4/7/2014 11:08 PM

just to finish up earlier story.he was still not convinced the law existed.he took me to his station with the cuffs still on and let my wife drive the car.i sat in a cell for about 45 minutes when he cam and told me the misinformation was cleared and I could go. never once did anyone ever apologize to me or my wife.before I left I stated they owed my wife an apology.they just stared as we walked out the door.this happened in a county next to the one where I worked for 25 years.there is no excuse for this but it clearly shows not all are aware of the laws that exist

Old Cop @ 4/18/2014 12:21 PM

I retired in '97 w/30 yrs. service from a mid size PD in VA and qualify annually for my LEOSA creds. I mind my own business and go about armed w/my small .38 like I've done most of my adult life. Some of the experiences related here w/retired officers being arrested for legally carrying are VERY concerning. I'm very discreet when carrying and the only way anyone would know about my weapon is if I needed to employ it in an emergency, or if stopped by an officer and asked. I'm really not sure what I would do under some of the circumstances posted here and can only hope I continue to go about my business unmolested.

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