Concealed Carry for LEOs Part 2: Carry Where Prohibited

A Galco concealable holster.  Image credit: Midway USA

A Galco concealable holster. Image credit: Midway USA

For Active and Retired LEOs

Part 2 – Concealed Carry Where Prohibited

By Chip DeBlock

As an active law enforcement officer (LEO), with very few exceptions you enjoy being able to carry your firearm just about everywhere while on-duty. When off-duty that can change. Unless you’re a federal LEO with federal jurisdiction, your law enforcement certification was probably issued by the state you work in. When off-duty and in your home state you’re covered by your state’s certification and by the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA and a.k.a. H.R. 218). When you go out-of-state your LEOSA coverage becomes more important.

Another issue is going from active duty status to retirement and still carrying a gun. For years carrying a gun became second nature to you, whether on or off duty. Upon retiring most cops I come across who continue to “conceal carry” under LEOSA carry just like they’ve always done (in all the same places). Unfortunately this can get you jammed up. If you’re relying on professional courtesy, don’t. In 2013 a Qualified Retired LEO (a QRLEO is a retired law enforcement officer qualified to conceal carry under LEOSA) was charged in New York City while walking in an alleged Gun Free School Zone (GFSZ).1

After reading this article (and Part 1 – LEOSA vs State CCF Permits) you should know and understand where you can and cannot carry a concealed firearm under LEOSA. You will also be aware of the most up-to-date information concerning concealed carry on private property including when owners prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons on their property.

While LEOSA is a federal law allowing you to carry in all states, it does not preempt all state laws. Under LEOSA you are “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.’”1 You also cannot carry (if prohibited by state or local laws) on state or local government property, installations, buildings and park lands. However, if you have a state carrying a concealed firearm (CCF) permit (or are on official duty), you can carry in federal parks and through GFSZs within that state. It all depends on whether you are carrying under the federal LEOSA statute or state CCF permit.2

Now for a more controversial topic, the LEOSA does not want you to conceal carry if a private person or entity restricts guns on their property.1 As noted in an FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, “LEOSA does not supersede state laws permitting private property owners from limiting or prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons on their property” (including public bars, private clubs and places such as amusement parks).3 The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) also acknowledges the same about LEOSA.4 I remember being off-duty and carrying a concealed firearm to a professional hockey game at the Ice Palace in Tampa. I was stopped by a female detective who was working an extra-duty assignment and asked if I was carrying a concealed firearm before she let me enter. She knew me and suspected that I was armed. According to an article this year for Fox Business, such policies or signs do not carry much force of law. “In some states, a private business will be able to post such a sign, and if they discover that someone had indeed brought a gun onto the premises, they can have that person removed, but very often that will carry no criminal penalty”5 Even though HANDGUNLAW.US recommends that you not enter an establishment that is posted “No Firearms” in order to honor the rights of the property owner, they also reveal that “’No Firearm’ signs in Florida have no force of law unless they are posted on property that is specifically mentioned in State Law as being off limits to those with a Permit/License to Carry.”6 If you conceal carry in the business and are asked to leave, you must or risk being charged with trespassing.

Retired Captain Bret Bartlett7, founder and owner of Ex Umbra Defense Solutions, supplied me with a brochure titled How to Obtain a License to Carry a Concealed Weapon or Firearm put out by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. In it they acknowledge that carrying a concealed weapon or firearm inside a business establishment falls outside their jurisdiction, is a gray area of the law and is open to interpretation. They also concede that various interpretations have been determined in different courts. All of this, of course, centers on a business owner’s right to post a “No Weapons or Firearms” sign outside his business establishment even though that establishment does not fall within the category of “places of nuisance”.

Retired law enforcement sergeants Jack & Judy Ragsdale8, who own Elite Arms Training, tell a similar story in Mississippi. If you are carrying a concealed weapon (CCW) with a Mississippi CCW permit in a store displaying your state’s “properly worded” sign, you must leave if you are discovered and asked to. Refusal to leave can subject you to a trespassing charge. If you have an “enhancement” to your CCW permit and the building is a “public place”, their Attorney General has determined that the sign carries no weight. In Mississippi you do not need any training to obtain a CCW permit, however you are still restricted from carrying in certain places like bars and schools. If you take a training course you can obtain an IC (Instructional Course) stamp on the back of your CCW permit which is the enhancement. The enhancement allows you to carry in public places that might be posted, bars (in certain situations), schools, etc. There are still exceptions like police stations and court rooms where you cannot conceal carry. If you are carrying under the federal LEOSA on private property with a “properly worded” sign, you would get out of any criminal charges you faced but could possibly still take the trip depending on what state you are in. According to the Ragsdales, Mississippi is a very gun friendly state and “the scales of justice tip towards the CCW person more than the criminal that put you in harm’s way.”8

Everyone must determine their own level of risk if they want to conceal carry in such situations. The most up-to-date information that I can find on the subject suggests that, if you adopt the “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission” philosophy, you’ll be OK as long as you comply by leaving if discovered. Of course, you can always boycott such businesses too. On that note, let’s not forget why the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 was created in the first place. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, congress decided that the public would be safer if off-duty LEOs could take action against certain threats. By creating the LEOSA, congress solidified the feeling that America is better off with LEOs carrying firearms nationwide whether on-duty, off-duty or retired. The LEOSA recognizes that “law enforcement officers retain their identity, training, experience, and dedication to the safety and welfare of the community regardless of whether they are on duty in their employer’s jurisdiction, going home to another community, or merely traveling for leisure purposes.”3

If, after reading this article, anyone is interested in obtaining insurance to protect themselves from criminal and civil exposure while carrying under LEOSA and/or under their state’s CCF or CCW permit, you can obtain such coverage from the following sources: NRA9, FOP10, FEDS11, Wright USA & PSDA12 and U.S. Law Shield13.

Disclaimer: This article is not legal advice and does not contain all the information on this topic including the applicable statutes. The author’s personal viewpoints, interpretations and opinions are contained within. Anyone seeking to take action on this topic or needing more information should consult with an attorney, reference applicable statutes and conduct their own research.

1 POLICE Magazine – Weapons – Does the LEOSA Carry Law Apply to You? – January 17, 2014 – By James M. Baranowski

2 NRA – Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act: Off-limit Areas? – James M. Baranowski

3 The FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation – FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin – Off-Duty Officers and Firearms – January 2011 – By MICHAEL J. BULZOMI, J.D.

4 NRA – LEOSA Welcomes the Military by Requiring New Identification Card Language for All – James Baranowski

5 Fox Business – Can You Carry a Concealed Weapon into a Bank? – August 4, 2014 – By Marcie Geffner

6 HANDGUNLAW.US – Do “No Gun Signs” Have the Force of Law?

7Bret Bartlett, Founder & Owner
Ex Umbra Defense Solutions
(813) 309-0958

Top of Form

8Jack & Judy Ragsdale, Owners
Elite Arms Training, Inc.
34A O.T. Davis Road
Lumberton, MS 39455
(601) 528-2410

9Retired Law Enforcement Officer Self-defense Insurance

10The Fraternal Order of Police Legal Plan, Inc.

11Federal Employee Defense Services

12Wright USA & Public Servants Defense Agency

13U.S. Law Shield
[Enter “gunrunners74” in the optional Promo Code field for a discounted rate of $10.95 p/month from Ex Umbra Defense Solutions]


  1. I believe since this has gone into effect it has been challenged a few times with the leo’s beating the charge.I think one challenge was in Sturgis S.D. at the annual bike rally where 3 or four off-duty officers were arrested,charged and with the right representation presenting the facts of this law they were exonerated..

  2. As a LEO / Firearms instructor who conducts LEOSA qualifications monthly, I can tell you there is much confusion about this very good federal law. The courts have interpreted the law very liberally (in our favor) in every case I’ve seen. Despite rumors that some cities (like NY) don’t recognize it, they are still part of the United States and do not have the option to ignore federal law. Of course you can be asked to leave private property – but that is for any reason and has nothing to do with the LEOSA. Why any Detective working off duty at a hockey game decided to challenge a known police officer and ask such a stupid question is beyond my comprehension. However, since I am not violating any law I routinely carry in these situations. If given a trespass warning, of course I would leave. Short of that, I am legal.

  3. Chip, you might want to re-visit your unconditional statement that, “You also cannot carry on state or local government property, installations, buildings and park lands.”

    I think that if you read the law closely it says LEOSA does not supersede state or local laws that “prohibit or restrict the possession of firearms on any State or local government property, installation, building, base, or park.” If there is no state or local law prohibiting carry at these locations then it would appear that you can carry there.

    I have lately been in communication with the National Park Service about carrying in National Parks. Below is the reply I received. It shows, among other things, that here in Florida we can carry in National Parks, but not in Park Office buildings.

    On 12/24/2014 7:46 AM, Office of Policy Mailbox, NPS wrote:
    > Dear Mr. Shawver:
    > By copy of this email, I am forwarding your message to Mr. Charles Cuvelier, our Chief, Law Enforcement, Security & Emergency Services, WASO, for a reply regarding the LEOSA. On a much broader level, I can tell you that Congress by law–namely the Credit Card Act of 2009–changed longstanding National Park Service regulations regarding firearms in the parks for everyone. That statute provides that the laws of the State where a park is located are governing, so that the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia would govern firearm possession in Shenandoah National Park, the laws of the State of California would govern in Death Valley National Park, and so on. As the overwhelming majority of States allow concealed carry, it is therefore allowed in most national parks. There is one caveat, however: Congress did not amend 18 USC 930, which states that you may not take a firearm into a “Federal facility,” defined as a place where Federal employees routinely discharge their duties, e.g., a park administrative office, etc. All such “Federal facilities” should be clearly marked at all entrances.
    > Happy holidays.
    > Sincerely,
    > Michael M. Shelton
    > Program Analyst
    > Office of Policy
    > National Park Service

  4. Chip, on a related subject it must be remembered that the states of New Jersey, Maryland and DC have a prohibition on “large capacity magazines” which they regard as any magazine carrying over ten rounds. The LEOSA does not protect against this law.

    There may be other states with similar laws. I have not had time to research it.


  5. Thanks for the comments gentlemen, you bring up some very good points.

    Carl, I have changed the sentence to read “You also cannot carry (if prohibited by state or local laws) on state or local government property, installations, buildings and park lands.” to avoid any confusion in case there is a state that does not regulate. Thank you! There is a footnote (2) after that linking to an article by James Baranowski (counsel for the NRA). In it Baranowski warns that if you are carrying under LEOSA (federal law) that you are not in accordance with the laws of the state you are in. His exact words are 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”. Likewise, I’m familiar with the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-24, Section 1, Title V, Sec. 512). I’d love to see the response you get back from Charles Cuvelier or someone in authority on the topic, as court interpretations on several areas involving LEOSA are likely to change in the future.

    Also, I did not include things like magazine capacities, ammunition, machine guns, silencers (suppressors), destructive devices, mental illness, etc. in order to keep an already lengthy article from becoming longer. I tried to concentrate on the most important aspects.

    I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!!!

  6. I would say there just needs to be an amendmen to LEOSA to specify that qualified law enforcement officers are exempt from state magazine restrictions, but I’d much rather just see a bill (or supreme court ruling,) that says that any and all magazine bans in any state are struck down as they are not in the spirit of the 2nd Amendment and are a blatant infringement. I mean a standard magazine for a Glock 19 holds 15 rounds. You shouldn’t be prohibited from carrying a gun with the freaking magazine it came with and have to stoop down to a lower capacity magazine (thus limiting yourself,) simply to go to another state like New York or Maryland. Between the high taxes and the tyrannical anti-gun laws, I feel New York is very deserving in it’s nickname of being “the Empire State.” TN LEO

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *