August 2, 2004
LEGAL BULLETIN NO. 04-5
SUBJECT: Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2003
On July 22, 2004, President Bush signed into law H.R. 218, also known as the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2003. This bill amends Title 18, United States Code, Section 926, by inserting a provision that allows qualified law enforcement officers to carry a weapon concealed throughout the United States. The law would allow any sworn member of the Department, who is not the subject of any disciplinary action, and who has qualified with their firearm, to carry a weapon as long as they are in possession of photographic identification issued by the Department. Officers may not be under the influence of alcohol or an intoxicating or hallucinatory drug or substance when in possession of the firearm. The firearm being carried must not be prohibited by federal law, i.e., a machine gun, a silencer or a destructive device. The officer may also not be disqualified by federal law from receiving a firearm; for example, an officer who is the subject of a full-order of protection would be disqualified. For purposes of this law, it is my interpretation that subject to “disciplinary action” refers to members who are currently on suspension, although that phrase is not defined in the statute.
This law also permits certain qualified retired police officers to carry a weapon concealed. In order to provide guidance to officers who encounter a retired officer, the law allows an individual who retired in good standing as a law enforcement officer for reasons other than mental instability and who is not prohibited by federal law from receiving a firearm, to carry a weapon concealed anywhere in the United States, so long as they have, during the most recent twelve (12) month period, been qualified to carry a firearm under the standards established by their respective departments or states for training and qualification.
Retired officers must carry either an identification issued by the agency which indicates they are retired and they have qualified with a firearm of the type they are carrying, or must carry an identification from the agency from which they retired and a certificate issued by the state that the individual has been tested and found to meet the standards established by the state for training and qualification of active law enforcement officers. Retired officers also may not carry a firearm which is prohibited by federal law. This new law does not supersede state laws which prohibit or restrict the possession of firearms on any state or local government property. Although not a concern for active officers who would be authorized to carry their weapons into state or local government offices, retired officers would not necessarily be authorized to carry on these properties.
It may be some time before various departments have established what type of identification they are going to require retired officers to carry. Therefore, officers may expect there will be variation from department to department in regard to retired police officers. At this time, the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department’s procedure concerning retired officers has not been finalized. If questions arise concerning retired Kansas City, Missouri Police Officers, please contact the Office of General Counsel for guidance in this interim period.
Questions about any aspect of this new law may be referred to the Office of the General Counsel.
Lisa S. Morris
DISTRIBUTION: All Law Enforcement Personnel
All Civilian Supervisory Positions
All Department Elements
To be posted on all bulletin boards for two weeks.