By Trey Rusk
There are certain qualifiers, but by and large most retired police officers can carry a pistol in all 50 states.
The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act allows retired local, state, federal, military, corrections, Amtrak Police, Federal Reserve Police, and law enforcement officers of the executive branch of the Federal Government to participate in this legislation.
There are qualifiers such as annual weapons qualifications and a valid I.D. issued by the agency from where the officer retired.
The LEOSA has been tweaked in 2010 and 2013 in an effort to include more agencies and less time served.
In 2010, LEOSA was amended by the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act Improvements Act of 2010, which specifically extended coverage to include law enforcement officers of the Amtrak Police, Federal Reserve Police, and law enforcement officers of the executive branch of the Federal Government. The provisions for disqualification on mental health grounds and the provisions regarding qualifications to carry a firearm were amended, and the number of aggregate years for retired officers was reduced from fifteen to ten. In addition the definition of a firearm was expanded to include any ammunition not prohibited by the National Firearms Act of 1934. This was done to exempt qualified active and retired law enforcement officers from the prohibitions against carrying hollow-point ammunition that is in force in New Jersey (except for their peace officers and active federal law enforcement officers) and a few other locations. The concept of "retirement" was replaced with "separated from service" and the requirement that the retired officer have a nonforfeitable right to retirement benefits was eliminated.
In 2013, LEOSA was again amended by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013, effective January 2, 2013, after President Obama signed Public Law 112-239 (H.R. 4310). Section 1089 of the NDAA contained language which further clarified that military police officers and civilian police officers employed by the U.S. Government unambiguously met the definitions in the original Act. The definitions of "qualified active" and "qualified retired" law enforcement officer include the term "police officers" and expanded the powers of arrest requirement definition to include those who have or had the authority to "apprehend" suspects under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Senator Patrick Leahy, a key sponsor of the bill, remarked "The Senate has agreed to extend that trust to the law enforcement officers that serve within our military. They are no less deserving or worthy of this privilege and I am very pleased we have acted to equalize their treatment under the federal law". He further stated "The amendment we adopt today will place military police and civilian police officers within the Department of Defense on equal footing with their law enforcement counterparts across the country when it comes to coverage under LEOSA."
There are restrictions such a not being within 1000' of a school and flying armed on a commercial aircraft. Some officers also obtain a state concealed carry permit which often negates the 1000' school rule. Weapons may also be placed in checked luggage in within TSA guidelines. State concealed carry permits are reciprocal in most U.S. states and territories.
The majority of Chief's of Police and upper management law enforcement organizations were adamantly against the legislation.
President George W. Bush signed HB 218 into law on July 22, 2004. He felt the law was a layer of protection for retired police officers and he recognized an overlooked law enforcement asset.
LEOSA has been tested in New York, Washington DC and California with case law siding with the retired officers.
It would be well advised for retired police officers to carry a liability insurance policy in case of a critical incident. The departments from where they retired are not liable for their actions.
"I'd rather have that and not need it than need it and not have it."
Ranger Captain Woodrow F. Call
That's the way I see it.
Editors Note: I want to thank Chief Deputy Curtis Norman for his insight on this blog.