Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure coauthored by Congressman Rick Boucher to enable retired and current law enforcement officers to carry a concealed firearm throughout the United States. Boucher managed the bill on the House floor. The measure is now expected to be signed into law by the President.
"Since enactment of the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act in 2004, qualified retired officers have faced varying and inconsistent certification procedures from state to state, complicating their ability to carry a firearm," Boucher said.
The bill approved by the House last night was introduced in the Senate by Judiciary Committee Chairman Leahy. Representative Randy Forbes (R-VA) introduced the measure in the House, and Boucher joined him in co-sponsoring the measure. The bill modernizes the existing law in these necessary respects:
· It will reduce from 15 to 10 the number of years a law enforcement officer must serve to be eligible to carry a firearm as a retiree. The 15-year requirement under current law inappropriately excludes many qualified retirees who go into law enforcement as a second career, often following military service.
· It will give retired officers more flexibility in obtaining certification to carry a firearm, while still maintaining rigorous standards for retirees who apply for this benefit. The measure will clarify that a retiree can meet the qualification requirement using either the standards of the agency at which the retiree formerly served or those of the state in which the retiree currently resides.
· It will also allow a certified firearms instructor, qualified under state law, to conduct the firearms qualification test for retired law enforcement officers.
· It ensures that law enforcement officers of the Amtrak Police Department, the Federal Reserve, and the executive branch of the federal government are authorized to carry firearms under the law.
· Finally, it will eliminate the requirement that retirees have non-forfeitable retirement benefits to qualify, which unfairly excludes retirees from smaller law enforcement agencies which do not offer these retirement benefits.
"Allowing trained active and retired law enforcement officers to carry firearms enhances public safety by ensuring that officers have the means to defend themselves and other innocent victims from acts of violence. It also appropriately honors the men and women who protect our neighborhoods and our communities," Boucher said.