Retired Law Enforcement Carrying Firearms—An Overview of LEOSA

Are you aware that there is a law called the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) that allows some former law enforcement officers to carry a firearm? The intent is to summarize the purpose and details of this law in a way that's easy to understand.


HR 218/LEOSA stands for the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act. The United States Congress passed the law in 2004, allowing some former law enforcement officers to carry firearms even after they retire. One justification for the law was to give these who served the community the ability to protect themselves and others, even when they are no longer working as police officers.

Many retired officers still have a keen eye for things out of place and a desire to protect those who may not be able to protect themselves. The firearm isn't the right tool for every situation, but in many cases, it's necessary to protect life.

Just because an officer retires, doesn't mean the criminals they dealt with retire. Unless they move, they may run into violent people they've arrested. For their safety, officers should have the ability to carry a firearm after retirement.

Who is Eligible?

I've referred to LEOSA applying to ‘retired' police officers, but technically, officers do not have to retire from an agency to qualify. LEOSA applies to law enforcement officers employed by a government agency, such as the police or sheriff's department, or United States Military police, and has completed their service honorably for an aggregate of 10+ years. A former officer may also qualify under LEOSA if they passed a probationary period and sustained an injury requiring medical separation.

LEOSA, Local and Federal Gun Laws—

It's true LEOSA allows retired officers to carry firearms in all 50 states, even if those states have strict gun laws. However, there are still some state laws those carrying under LEOSA need to follow. Additionally, LEOSA does not exempt former officers from following federal gun laws like those regulating guns on planes or federal property.

States also get to determine some details on how they issue LEOSA credentials. Former officers must have qualified with their firearms regularly while they were on active duty. This means they had to practice shooting and prove that they can use their guns responsibly.

Similarly, anyone qualifying for LEOSA must continue showing proficiency through with a handgun through an annual or biannual qualification to maintain credentials. There isn't a universal qualification course. You may qualify through the agency you retired from, a state agency or even a private firearms instructor licensed to administer the appropriate course of fire.

To maintain eligibility under LEOSA, retired officers must demonstrate their proficiency with firearms by completing a qualification course. This course typically includes shooting exercises designed to assess accuracy, speed, and safe handling of firearms.

Again, the exact requirements differ between jurisdictions, but the purpose is to ensure that retired officers remain competent and capable of using firearms responsibly.

LEOSA officers must stay informed about the qualification requirements set by the state or agency governing their LEOSA privileges. They should keep track of any updates or changes to the qualification process and ensure they fulfill the obligations within the specified timeframe.

Check out the guide on how to fly with a firearm.

If a former officer fails to meet the qualification standards, he may lose LEOSA benefits and the inability to carry concealed firearms under its provisions.

Officers should consult with their local law enforcement agencies or relevant authorities to get accurate information regarding the specific qualification requirements and timelines in their jurisdiction. Remaining up-to-date and complying with these standards not only allows retired officers to exercise their LEOSA rights but also ensures they continue to prioritize safety and responsible firearm usage.

Some Pitfalls of LEOSA—

I mentioned LEOSA does not supersede federal law, so there are still locations a former officer carrying with LEOSA credentials could get in trouble. Take, for instance, federal gun free zones including national parks. Some states provide those with concealed carry licenses, an exemption from the law prohibiting one from carrying in a national park or gun free zone. But LEOSA isn't under any state issued permit program, and would not exempt you from the law. Check out this post about how constitutional carry laws similarly open someone carrying legally under state permitless carry law to violate something like the gun free school zones act.

New Jersey's Peculiar Stance on LEOSA—

New Jersey shows particular hostility toward otherwise law-abiding citizens who carry firearms. The state's magazine capacity limit laws, and prohibition on hollow-point ammunition are just two of the laws restricting the Second Amendment rights of those in NJ.

But New Jersey law enforcement officers have also arrested former officers carrying under LEOSA. So the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) sued Gurbir Grewal, the Attorney General of New Jersey. in 2022, United States District Judge in New Jersey, Zahid Quraishi, granted summary judgement in the case FLEOA v. Grewal.

Essentially, the judgment affirmed that LEOSA applied even in the firearm-hostile state of New Jersey.

Wrapping Up—

LEOSA enhances personal protection, contributes to public safety, and grants peace of mind to retired officers, while also emphasizing responsible firearm usage. Law enforcement officers understand the importance of legal protection and that's why I recommend looking into the services of CCW Safe. Former law enforcement officers, top-notch legal representatives and subject-matter experts make up CCW Safe's team. CCW Safe's Defender Program is specifically designed for LEOSA individuals.

But there are plenty of companies that offer legal representation for someone involved in a defensive gun use. Here is a side-by-side comparison of the dominant companies offering these services.

This is an overview of LEOSA, and if you're looking to study this law further, I recommend contacting your state or local law enforcement agency for the specific legal requirements of your state.

link to comparison of insurance companies

About Matthew Maruster

I follow my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who is the eternal co-equal Son of God. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and daughter. I served in the Marine Corps Infantry. I was a Staff Sergeant and served as a Platoon Sergeant during combat in Iraq. After I was a police officer at a municipal agency in San Diego County. I have a Bachelors's Degree in Criminal Justice from National University. MJ Maruster Defense.

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