Where can a police officer carry a gun while traveling? HR 218 Explained

by Scott on January 21, 2009

Editor’s Update: In October 2010 S. 1132: The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act Improvements Act of 2010 modified HR 218.

Before you do any traveling, here are some tips about your right to carry a firearm to another state based on HR 218, the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act.  Pass this article on to anyone in your department that might need it.

This issue has come up recently because four off duty officers were just granted a motion to dismiss after being arrested in Sturgis last year. They were arrested for carrying concealed firearms after a fight with some Hell’s Angels.  During the fight an officer shot one of the Hell’s Angels.

What the Law Enforcement Safety Act (HR 218) Allows

A qualified active or retired law enforcement officer who has photographic identification issued by their employing agency may carry a concealed firearm transported across state lines.

The Fine Print

Additional Requirement for Retired Officers

Retired officers must also bring state issued documentation that they qualified with the weapon they are carrying within the last 12 months.

Federal Land and Buildings

This law exempts officers from state and local laws concerning concealed carry but not Federal laws.  HR 218 does not exempt you on:

  • Aircraft
  • Federal buildings
  • Federal property
  • National Parks

Private Property, State and Local Government Land and Buildings

The law also grants states the authority to:

  • Permit private property owners to restrict concealed firearms on their property
  • Permit state and local governments to restrict concealed firearms on state or local government property.

Check with the state to see if their laws restrict carrying concealed firearms at these locations.

This Law is an Affirmative Defense; Officers can still be Arrested

The ATF sent a letter to the Fraternal Order of Police clarifying that officers can still be arrested for carrying concealed handguns.  HR 218 is only an affirmative defense that can be brought up before the judge.

Firearms Defined

Firearms do not include:

  • Machine guns
  • Silencers
  • Explosive or destructive devices

Qualified Law Enforcement Officer Defined

A qualified, active law enforcement officer is an employee of a government agency who:

  1. is authorized by law to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or the incarceration of any person for any violation of law;
  2. has statutory powers of arrest;
  3. is authorized by the agency to carry a firearm;
  4. is not the subject of any disciplinary action by the agency;
  5. meets the standards, if any, established by the agency which require the employee to regularly qualify in the use of a firearm;
  6. is not under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating or hallucinatory drug or substance; and is not prohibited by Federal law from possessing a firearm.

Qualified Retired Law Enforcement Officer Defined

A qualified retired law enforcement officer is defined as an individual who:

  1. has retired in good standing from service with a government agency as a law enforcement officer for an aggregate of fifteen (15) years or more for reasons other than mental instability, or retired from such an agency due to a service-connected disability after completing any applicable probationary period of such service;
  2. was authorized by law to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or the incarceration of any person for any violation of law;
  3. had statutory powers of arrest;
  4. has a nonforfeitable right to benefits under the retirement plan of the agency for which he was employed;
  5. meets, at his own expense, the same standards for qualification with a firearm as an active officer within the State in which he resides;
  6. is not under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating or hallucinatory drug or substance; and
  7. is not prohibited by Federal law from possessing a firearm.

Resources and Links

Police One Article

NJ Lawman Article

FOP HR 218 FAQ