loader image

Where Can Firearms Be Carried Under LEOSA/HR 218

Federal Locations & Laws

Individuals carrying under LEOSA/HR 218 are carrying under FEDERAL Law and so must follow federal laws and federal agency policies that restrict the carrying of concealed firearms in certain federal buildings and lands (including buildings in national parks) and on airplanes. They must also follow the Gun-Free School Zone Act (GFSZA) and cannot carry a firearm within 1,000 feet of elementary or secondary schools. Although the GFSZA authorizes on-duty LEOs to carry firearms in such circumstances, off-duty and retired LEOs are still restricted from doing so unless they have a firearms license issued from the state in which they reside, which is the only state where it applies.

State Locations & Laws

LEOSA exempts all qualified active and retired LEOs from state and local laws with respect to the carrying of concealed firearms with a few exceptions. Individuals carrying under LEOSA must obey the laws of any state that:

  • Permits private persons or entities to prohibit or restrict the possession of concealed firearms on their property. Most concealed carry states require such private establishments to post signs at every entrance;

  • Prohibits or restricts the possession of firearms on any state or local government property, installation, building, base or park (Check the Location Restrictions section for government properties that are off-limits in any state); and

  • Has enacted magazine restrictions. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has ruled that state and local laws and regulations applying to magazines do apply, and the exemption provided by LEOSA applies only to firearms and ammunition.

What Firearms Can Be Carried?

Anyone carrying under LEOSA must only carry firearms which are not prohibited by the National Firearms Act of 1934 such as machineguns, silencers or destructive devices.

Are There Any Ammunition Restrictions?

LEOSA carriers must only use ammunition not expressly prohibited by federal law or subject to the provisions of the National Firearms Act of 1934. Qualified LEOs and RLEOs are exempt from the prohibitions against carrying hollow-point ammunition that is in force in New Jersey and other locations. However, the NJ Atty Genl letter on 10/12/18 states,

4. Can retirees carry hollow-point bullets, and does LEOSA provide any additional authority outside of New Jersey law to carry hollow-point bullets?
No, New Jersey RLEOs cannot carry hollow-point bullets. N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3(f) states that, with very few narrow exceptions (none of which apply to an RLEO), only active law enforcement officers are authorized to carry hollow-point bullets. LEOSA does not provide any additional authority for an RLEO residing in New Jersey to carry hollow-point bullets because it is impermissible under state law. 

5. Generally, what ammunition is acceptable?
RLEOs can generally use any type of commercially available ammunition, so long as it is not hollow-point. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-17 (effective June 13, 2018), an RLEO may possess and carry a large capacity ammunition magazine which is capable of holding up to 15 rounds of ammunition that can be fed continuously and directly into a semiautomatic handgun. However, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-20 (effective August 12, 2018), any RLEO who carries a large capacity magazine capable of holding up to 15 rounds must separately register the firearm with the New Jersey State Police. 

Issues Faced By Former LEOs

Photo IDs

Unfortunately, federal law does not require law enforcement agencies to issue photographic identification or certification. For this reason, each local law enforcement agency has its own policies and procedures regarding the issuance of the required photographic identification. Some states or agencies are not issuing LEOSA identifications to qualified LEOs. There are some states that allow LEOs to carry concealed firearms without an identification. There are other states who have interpreted LEOSA differently and are refusing to grant the privilege to qualified individuals. Some states refuse to issue identification cards for lack of funds, or are issuing identification cards to local LEOs and not to LEOs from out of state.

The Army, Air Force, and Navy (including Marines) have contracted with Defense Contracting Services to handle LEOSA credentials. They issue a photo ID with the department symbol and signed by the department LE chief. So qualified DOD LEOs can obtain a photo ID,

Qualification Training

LEOSA does not define what form the certification must be in and lacks specific guidance on the required qualifications for a certified firearms instructor which results in more issues.  Since most states do not issue such certifications, qualification training as required by LEOSA is not consistent between states. There are states that don’t require qualification training after retirement. Some individuals calling themselves certified instructors are providing “qualification training” that doesn’t meet the standards of the state or of the local law enforcement agencies. Certificates issued from this training may not be recognized by the state, resulting in the LEO actually carrying a concealed firearm without a permit. LEOs need to exercise caution when enrolling in a qualification training in a state that does not have a list of certified instructors. As the legislative history, statute and case law make clear, if you qualify on one type of firearm (hand gun, long gun or shotgun), 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 semi-automatic or revolver. No separate qualification is necessary unless the state or agency has a different qualification standard for it.

Case Law

Duberry v. District of Columbia — In Duberry v. District of Columbia, retired correctional officers filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the District of Columbia deprived them of their federal right under LEOSA to carry a concealed weapon. The District Court originally dismissed the retired officers’ complaint for failure to state a claim, finding that LEOSA did not confer a right enforceable by Section 1983. Upon appeal, the D.C. Circuit reversed, finding the retired officers had stated a claim under LEOSA which “imposes a mandatory duty on the states to recognize the right it establishes.” The D.C. Circuit also addressed the District of Columbia’s argument that the retired correctional officers were not entitled to claim any right under LEOSA because they lacked statutory powers of arrest. “In the LEOSA, Congress defined qualified law enforcement officers” broadly, to include individuals who engage in or supervise incarceration.” The plaintiffs brought a Motion for Summary Judgment that recently was granted on June 7, 2018.

In Burban v. City of Neptune Beach, Henrich v. Illinois Law Enforcement Training & Standards Board and D’Aureli v. Harvey, the courts have determined that a state is not mandated to issue an identification card to retired law enforcement officers, and therefore, the officers have no enforceable rights under LEOSA because they do not meet all qualification criteria under the federal statute.