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LEOSA (HR218): Limitations and Considerations

Let's start with what is LEOSA or HR218.

Throughout my years in executive protection and security operations, I have been asked about H.R.218. Most recently I found myself reflecting on the question and I decided to bring some information back to the surface especially as we get some new people in the industry who may have been misinformed about this bill, LEOSA also referred to as H.R.218.

LEOSA stands for the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, also known as the "H.R. 218 Law." It is a federal law enacted in the United States on July 22, 2004. It was also updated in 2010. LEOSA allows qualified active and retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed firearms across state lines, even in jurisdictions that would otherwise prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons for civilians. However, it is important to learn the limitations.

The primary purpose of LEOSA is to provide a measure of personal protection for active and retired law enforcement officers who may encounter potential threats while traveling outside their jurisdiction or after retiring from their law enforcement career. The law was intended to address concerns that officers could be vulnerable to criminals who might target them based on their former occupation.

It's important to note that LEOSA does not grant law enforcement officers unlimited carry privileges. The law has specific limitations and conditions that officers and retirees must adhere to, such as not being under the influence of alcohol or drugs while carrying a concealed firearm and not being prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm.

LEOSA provides an additional layer of protection for law enforcement officers and ensures they can defend themselves and others in situations where they may face potential threats, even when traveling across state lines or after retirement.

LEOSA (H.R. 218) comes with several limitations and conditions that law enforcement, both active and retired, must follow to carry concealed firearms across state lines. Some of the key limitations include:

1. Eligibility Requirements: To qualify for LEOSA privileges, officers must have served as law enforcement officers for a specified minimum period and must have retired or separated from service in good standing. The minimum time for eligibility is ten years of duty in law enforcement.

2. Qualified Agencies: The law applies only to officers who served or are currently serving in eligible law enforcement agencies with statutory powers of arrest.

3. Firearms Training: LEOSA requires training in firearms proficiency that meets the standards set by their employing agency, or in the absence of such standards, the state standards for law enforcement officers. Retired officers need to complete a certified firearms training course every year to maintain their LEOSA privileges.

4. Identification and Credentials: Officers must carry their valid and current photographic identification issued by their former employing agency, along with evidence of their firearms qualification.

5. Prohibited Locations: LEOSA does NOT grant the authority to carry concealed firearms in certain locations, such as federal facilities, schools, and private properties that explicitly prohibit firearms. Federal land or any federally owned property.

6. Private Employer Restrictions: Private employers may still impose their own restrictions on employees carrying firearms, even if the employee qualifies under LEOSA. Also note, just because you qualify for LEOSA, not every agency grants it to qualifying officers, both active or retired.

7. Use of Force Laws: Officers must adhere to state and local laws regarding the use of force while carrying a concealed firearm, and they are subject to the laws of the state they are in at the time of carrying. Read the laws carefully as some jurisdictions do not recognize LEOSA and require a concealed weapons permit for their jurisdiction. LEOSA does NOT supersede local or state laws.

8. Alcohol and Drugs: Carrying a concealed firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly prohibited under LEOSA. It is also prohibited under the concealed carry laws in the majority of the United States if you have a concealed weapons permit.

9. Not a Badge of Authority: LEOSA is not a badge of authority and does not grant any law enforcement powers. Its purpose is solely to permit qualified officers to carry concealed firearms for personal protection. I must repeat, FOR PERSONAL PROTECTION. It is not intended for Close Protection or Executive Protection.

10. State Variations: While LEOSA is a federal law, individual states have their own specific provisions and requirements related to concealed carry by qualified current and retired law enforcement, and you need to be aware of and comply with these state-specific laws.

Lastly, an amendment to LEOSA was introduced in 2013 in the National Defense Authorization Act, extending its coverage to include military and DoD (Department of Defense) police and law enforcement officers with UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) apprehension authority. This change has been positively received by the military and DoD community. However, despite the amendment, the DoD is yet to update its policy on LEOSA, DODI 5525.12. As a consequence, those who qualify under the amendment are facing difficulties in obtaining the necessary photographic identification cards required for LEOSA privileges.

In the end, it's essential to be fully aware of the limitations of LEOSA to ensure you are in compliance with the law while carrying concealed firearms outside your jurisdiction or after retirement.

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1 Comment

Unknown member
Aug 15, 2023

I take issue with your comment that Some jurisdictions do not recognize LeOSA and State Law Superceeds. Under Supremercy Clause Federal law Suprecedes and LeOSA is the law in all 50 states as well as Commonwealth PR and Guam

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