By James M. Baranowski, Esq. NRA-ILA
During a recent presentation on LEOSA at the International Law
Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association Conference (ILEETA),
I addressed the fact that individuals carrying under LEOSA do not
qualify for the same exemptions some state permit holders benefit
from in terms of carrying concealed firearms in Federal Parks and
Gun Free School Zones (GFSZ). The surprised looks and
concerns from the audience raised a giant red flag: if the experts
out there don't know this, how many others may be unknowingly
violating the law?
While LEOSA affords qualified active and retired law enforcement
officers the privilege to carry a concealed firearm in all fifty
states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and all other U.S.
possessions (except the Canal Zone), it does contain some
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 the 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 GFSZ's
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 posses 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 San Francisco Planning Department's GFSZ map (www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx?page=2337).
Most cities are so laden with GFSZ's that it is virtually
impossible to travel anywhere without inadvertently passing through
one of them.
So what does this mean for you? While there have been no
known prosecutions of individuals violating these laws while
carrying under LEOSA (one must assume that professional courtesy
and the lack of knowledge on the issue has prevented this) you
should always protect yourself by obtaining a state issued
concealed carry permit in addition to your LEOSA credentials.
Most states have reciprocity laws and agreements which allow for
vast recognition of their permits throughout the country and some
even allow you to apply as a non-resident.** Bottom line; always be aware of your
surroundings, as ignorance is not a defense to the law.
* Federal buildings located on
the property are still prohibited places per 18 U.S.C. § 930(a)
** More information about state
reciprocity and recognition agreements can be found at www.nraila.org/gun-laws.aspx