Vol. 19 No. 10- Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act Of 2004

July 21, 2004

New Federal Law Will Allow Police Officers to Carry Concealed Weapons Nationwide Without a Permit

On Thursday, July 22, 2004, President George W. Bush is expected to sign a new federal law that allows both current and retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons wherever they go in the United States, regardless of most state or local prohibitions.

Under the new law, known as the “Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004,” qualified law enforcement officers may carry concealed handguns nationwide, on or off-duty. When traveling to other states, they are not required to inform other state or local authorities that they are carrying concealed weapons, though they must produce valid identification if challenged.

The new law does not extend an officer’s authority to enforce the law in states where it

is not already authorized; it simply gives officers greater freedom to be armed. The justification for this new law is, in part, based on the fear of officers having negative contact with someone they previously arrested, and their need to protect themselves.

The law passed Congress on June 23, 2004, and the Senate on July 7, 2004. It adds two new sections to Chapter 44 of Title 18 of the United States Code, the chapter of the federal criminal code which deals with firearms. Under 18 USCS 926B(a), “a qualified law enforcement officer… carrying the identification required by subsection (d) may carry a concealed firearm… subject to subsection (b),…” anywhere in the United States. Section 926C extends the same privilege to qualified, retired, law enforcement officers.

Who is qualified?

Section 926B(c) defines “qualified law enforcement officer” as someone who is authorized by the law (of his or her state) to enforce the law and make arrests; is authorized by his or her agency to carry a firearm; is not being disciplined by the agency; meets agency standards for qualifying in the use of a firearm; is not intoxicated; and is not prohibited by other federal law from possessing a firearm.

Section 926C(c) defines “qualified retired law enforcement officer” in a similar way, with the added requirements that the officer left the agency in good standing, after a minimum of 15 years of service (or because of a disabling injury, not based on mental instability), and has a nonforfeitable right to benefits under the agency’s retirement plan. Ironically, unlike 926B, a retired officer is not required to be authorized by his agency to carry a firearm, but the officer must be able to prove that he/she is qualified in the use of a firearm under state standards within the last 12 months.

Both current and retired officers must carry identification. A current officer must have the photo I.D. issued by his or her law enforcement agency. A retired officer must carry either, (1) a new photo I.D. issued by his or her old agency which indicates that he/she has qualified within the last 12 months to use a firearm of the kind he/she is carrying, or (2) his/her old photo I.D., along with a certification of such qualification issued by the officer’s state of residence.

Exceptions to the Law

Peace officers who qualify under the new law must still obey local prohibitions or restrictions against the carrying of concealed weapons on (1) private property, if the owner imposes such prohibitions or restrictions, and (2) state or public property, such as a courthouse or a public park.

The law does not give officers the right to carry:

(1) any machine gun (as defined in section 5845 of the National Firearms Act);

(2) any firearm silencer (as defined in section 921 of Title 18); or

(3) any destructive device (as defined in section 921 of Title 18).


Local agencies have to prepare for armed, current and retired, peace officers from other states traveling into their jurisdictions without notice. These out-of-state officers have a right to carry concealed weapons, provided they can produce proper identification. Additionally, these officers will be subject to their own agency or state’s standards, if any, for firearms training or qualification.

The laws of each state are not the same in determining who is a “qualified law enforcement officer.” Other states may have totally different standards than California; but their definition will apply.