LEOSA Reform Act Reintroduced in Congress

The Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act was passed in 2004 to allow retired and current officers to carry firearms across state lines.  Since its passage, some states have circumvented the legislation’s authority to remove or limit the carry rights of officers. The LEOSA Reform Act reintroduced this week reinforces officers’ rights on and off duty.

Congressman Don Bacon (R-Neb.) introduced H.R. 1156, or the LEOSA Reform Act, on Wednesday to clarify existing law allowing qualified active and retired law enforcement officers to carry firearms, of magazines not prohibited by federal law, on previously restricted public land, such as public parks and Gun Free School Zones.

During a press conference announcing the legislation’s introduction, Rep. Bacon, alongside the bill’s original cosponsors Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) and Rep. John Rutherford (R-Fl.), expressed his reasoning for introducing the legislation.

Rep. Bacon noted, “Many of us know an officer’s call to protect and serve extends far beyond their official capacity and thanks to LEOSA, so does their privilege to concealed carry. Unfortunately, the number of officers killed in ambush style attacks has risen at an alarming rate of 62 percent from 2015 to 2016. The somber reality that our police are fighting greater and greater is compounded by the unintended risk many officer have been left to assume carrying in accord with LEOSA due to inconsistent implantation by some states.”

New Jersey, for example, has received criticism in recent years for requiring officers to obtain a state permit to purchase and carry a firearm. Numerous regulations have been put in place which further restrict an officer’s ability to carry freely.

The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, one of the 13 law enforcement organizations supporting Bacon’s introduction of the legislation and one of the three groups who spoke at the press conference, explained in a press release, “LEOSA empowered officers, at any time necessary, to respond to threats and complete their duty to protect and serve their communities. Unfortunately, since this law’s passage in 2004 several states have tried to circumvent this authority… This act will address many of the inequities and infringements some states have placed on an officer’s authorities.”

The original LEOSA legislation passed by voice vote in the House and unanimous consent in the Senate. Rep. Bacon expressed a desire to see the Reform Act pass with similar bipartisan support.

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