Even as the debate rages on about whether, where and when service members should be allowed to carry weapons, some troops already are permitted to carry concealed handguns even if their particular state does not have a concealed-carry law.
The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004, a little-known federal law that was extended to apply to military personnel in 2013, already gives credentialed troops — in addition to military police — authority to carry weapons while off duty in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to a U.S. military official.
As with their civilian counterparts, the LEOSA is designed to give some service members who have another day job, such as National Guard or Reserve members who work in law enforcement, the ability to carry personal weapons to their next location without violating other DoD or federal laws.
To qualify to carry a concealed weapon, service members must be actively serving in law enforcement or have 10 or more years’ experience in law enforcement.
Any service member who meets the qualifications can apply through their state for a LEOSA license, including Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard members whose services do not have application programs of their own.
At its bottom line, the law allows qualified service members to carry concealed weapons in states in which it is “extremely difficult to obtain civilian permits,” such as Hawaii and New Jersey, according to Eric Sanders, administrator of the Air Force’s Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act Facebook page.
The Army is looking into signing up a contractor to issue LEOSA credentials, similar to what the Air Force does, Sanders said.
When LEOSA was extended to service members in 2013, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the law gives law enforcement officers “the peace of mind that they are protected wherever they may be.”
Leahy said qualified service members “are no less deserving or worthy of this privilege.”