Concealed-carry could expand for ex-cops

Published 11:59 pm Friday, October 30, 2009

A bill introduced last month by Congressman J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), would extend the privileges for retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons.

The bill — which adds several different types of officers, reduces the number of years they must have served and cuts red tape for making the application — is being considered in a House subcommittee.

“About 5 percent of law enforcement officers who die each year are killed while taking action in an off-duty capacity,” Forbes stated in a press release issued this week. “Convicted criminals often have exact memories, preventing law enforcement officers from ever being ‘off duty,’ whether active duty or retired.”

“Not only is the ability of retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed firearms a critical officer safety issue, but it just makes sense that trained officers should be prepared to respond immediately to public safety threats, regardless of whether they are off-duty or across state lines,” Forbes continued. “This bill would make significant improvements to law enforcement firearm laws to increase safety for officers and the public.”

Under current law, a retired law enforcement officer must have served at least 15 years, and must receive certification from the state in which he resides that he has completed testing and met the standards for training and qualification of active law enforcement officers carrying the same type of weapon.

Forbes’ bill, however, would cut the required years of service to 10, and allow the retired officer to be certified either by the state or by a certified firearms instructor who is qualified to conduct a firearms qualification test for active duty officers in the state. Allowing the certification to be issued by an instructor would “cut through the bureaucratic red tape,” according to the Forbes press release.

The bill, H.R. 3752, also would add retired members of the Amtrak Police Department, retired members of the law enforcement of the Federal Reserve System, retired law enforcement officers for the U.S. Armed Forces, and retired law enforcement of the executive branch of the federal government to the concealed carry privileges.

Suffolk Police Chief Thomas Bennett said he has not seen anything in the bill that concerns him, and he is pleased the privileges are being extended.

“Those people have extensive experience in dealing with firearms and handling firearms,” Bennett said of retired officers.

The bill has been endorsed by the National Fraternal Order of Police and the International Union of Police Associations.