Federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA)

The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA), often referred to as HR 218, was enacted in 2004 and amended in 2010 and 2013. 18 U.S. Code §§ 926B & 926C allows qualified Law Enforcement officers (LEOs) and qualified retired LEOs or those separated from service in good standing to carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction in the United States, regardless of state or local laws, with some exceptions. Therefore, an individual who qualifies under LEOSA does not need a state-issued concealed carry permit in order to carry a concealed firearm in any state. 

Who Is a Qualified Law Enforcement Officer (QLEO)?

LEOSA applies to employees of governmental agencies who:

  • Are authorized by law to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution of or the incarceration of any person for any violation of law, and has statutory powers of arrest or apprehension under 10 U.S. Code § 807, (article 7(b) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice);
  • Are authorized by the agency to carry a firearm;
  • Are not the subject of any disciplinary action by the agency which could result in suspension or loss of police powers;
  • Meet standards, if any, established by the agency which require the employee to regularly qualify in the use of a firearm;
  • Are not under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating or hallucinatory drug or substance; and
  • Are not prohibited by federal law from receiving a firearm.

It is not enough to be a QLEO, see the photographic identification & firearms qualification section below.

Who Is a Qualified Retired Law Enforcement Officer (QRLEO)?

In addition to the qualifications above, a qualified retired LEO must have:

  • Separated from service in good standing with a public agency as an LEO;
  • Served as an LEO for an aggregate of 10 years or more, or separated from service after completing any applicable probationary period due to a service-connected disability, as determined by the agency;
  • During the most recent 12-month period, met, at the expense of the individual, the standards for qualification in firearms training for active LEOs, as determined by the former agency of the individual, the state in which the individual resides or, if the state has not established such standards, either a law enforcement agency within the state in which the individual resides or the standards used by a certified firearms instructor that is qualified to conduct a firearms qualification test for active duty officers within that state; and
  • Has not been officially found by a qualified medical professional employed by the agency to be unqualified for reasons relating to mental health or has not entered into an agreement with the agency from which the individual is separating from service in which that individual acknowledges he or she is not qualified under this section for reasons relating to mental health.

It is not enough to be a QRLEO, see the photographic identification & firearms qualification section below.

It should be noted that for retirees carrying under LEOSA, the federal law grants you NO enforcement authority. You are merely a citizen with a nationwide concealed carry permit.

Although this list is not exhaustive, qualified officers include those that are employed by or have retired or been separated from the following agencies:

  • LEOs employed by public agencies;
  • Civilian police officers employed by the U.S. Government;
  • Military police officers;
  • Amtrak police;
  • Federal Reserve LEO; and 
  • Officers of the executive branch of the federal government. 

Photographic Identification & Firearm Qualification

The individual must carry photographic identification issued by the agency for which he/she is employed or from which the individual separated from service. This identifies the person as being or having been employed as a LEO and indicates that the individual has been tested or otherwise found to meet the active duty standards for qualification in firearms training as established by the agency to carry a firearm of the same type as the concealed firearm within 1 year before the date the individual is carrying the concealed firearm:

  • By the agency; or
  • By a certified firearms instructor that is qualified to conduct a firearms qualification test for active duty officers within that state or if the state has not established such standards, standards set by any law enforcement agency within that state to carry a firearm of the same type as the concealed firearm.

“Type” is not defined in the LEOSA law; however, the definition in the same code section, defines it as a handgun, rifle or shotgun. Please note that without a federal definition, states have interpreted this differently. Some consider the type of handgun, semi automatic or revolver; while others consider it to be the actual firearm used to qualify.

Where Can Firearms Be Carried Under LEOSA

Federal Locations & Laws

Individuals carrying under LEOSA 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?

They 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?

They must only use ammunition not expressly prohibited by federal law or subject to the provisions of the National Firearms Act of 1934. Qualified LEOs 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. When LEOSA was amended to require an identification card, the Department of Defense did not amend its policy. Qualified LEOs who worked with the Department of Defense do not have a LEOSA identification, which could create issues in their own states or if they travel to a state that requires it. 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 identifications for lack of funds, or are issuing identifications to local LEOs and not to LEOs from out of state.

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 BeachHenrich 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.

Links

PoliceOne.com – How Cops Will Be Affected by New Gun Laws in 2019
Defense Consulting Services (DCS) LEOSA FAQs
Defense Consulting Services Military LEOSA Application
Fraternal Order of Police LEOSA Info and FAQs

Department/Agency LEOSA Links

U.S. Marine Corps LEOSA Application Website
USPS Inspector General LEOSA Application
U.S. Customs and Border Protection LEOSA Info and Online Application
U.S. Department of the Interior LEOSA ID Policy
Department of Homeland Security LEOSA Policy and Application
Fed. Register Notice for TSA Form 2808-R (10/31/18), Retired Badge and/or Retired Credential Application

The information contained on this website is provided as a service to USCCA, Inc. Members and the concealed carry community, and does not constitute legal advice. Although we attempt to address all areas of concealed carry laws in all states, we make no claims, representations, warranties, promises or guarantees as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information disclosed. Legal advice must always be tailored to the individual facts and circumstances of each individual case. Laws are constantly changing, and as such, nothing contained on this website should be used as a substitute for the advice of a lawyer for a specific case.
Who Can Carry a Concealed Weapon Under HR218?
Who Can Carry a Concealed Weapon Under HR218?
USCCA Editor — July 1, 2019