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 http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2014/07/29/can-carry-concealed-weapon-into-bank/
6 HANDGUNLAW.US – Do “No Gun Signs” Have the Force of Law? http://www.handgunlaw.us/states/florida.pdf
Top of Form
9Retired Law Enforcement Officer Self-defense Insurance
10The Fraternal Order of Police Legal Plan, Inc.
11Federal Employee Defense Services
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13U.S. Law Shield
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