The US Air Force has been rather slow to implement the provisions of Public Law 108-277 dated 22 July 2004, The Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act of 2004 (LEOSA) as amended by Public Law 112-239 dated 2 January 2013, as well as specific instructions under the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 and DoDI 5525.12, The Amended Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004. That 2013 amendment told DoD that its LEOs were covered as well by the legislation because they weren’t quite sure before. But, this is going to happen guys.
You see, the LEOSA as it is commonly known, is a federal law, that allows two classes of persons; “qualified law enforcement officers” and “qualified retired law enforcement officers”, to carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction in the United States, regardless of state or local laws, with certain exceptions. That is a pretty big privilege.
Why is taking the AF so long to comply with Federal Law? Probably because they’ve never had to face something like actually facilitating the concealed carry of firearms by current and former Airmen. I’ve said it before (while in uniform) and I’ll say it again; the Air Force is institutionally afraid of guns. That might make you understand their apprehension. That, and they haven’t let a contract to handle issuing credentials yet. Security Forces is the largest enlisted careerfield in the Air Force. It’s also going to be a bit of a mess dealing with Retired and those with 10 years cumulative experience as a Qualified LEO. Supposedly, this won’t happen until Fall, 2014.
I will go on record to say that I cannot support LEOSA because it creates a privileged class of gun owners who have rights that other citizens do not. It is my contention that legislation such as LEOSA divides the gun owning populace. Since current and retired LEOs may concealed carry virtually anywhere, they have effectively been removed from the pro-2A lobbying effort. Their concerns have been answered and there’s no reason for them to go to bat to help normalize concealed carry laws across the nation. At the federal level, it means that anyone who qualifies under LEOSA is not subject to the concealed carry laws of any state, with a couple of exceptions.
However, LEOSA is the law of the land and the military departments must comply, offering their current and “retired” LE personnel the credentials necessary for compliance with the law. That, I do support.
I’ve been told that this version has been signed but not issued yet so I’m calling it a final draft. The Air Force Manual lays out in its simplest terms what the Air Force is required to do in order to make this happen for current/former Airmen. Specifically, under LEOSA and this Manual, “individuals who have apprehension authority and are identified as qualified law enforcement officers, active, retired or separated with 10 or more years of aggregate service in a position as a qualified law enforcement officer, may carry privately owned weapons (POW) concealed while off duty and outside the boundary of the installation.” Notice that they still won’t be able to off-duty concealed carry on military installations or any other “gun free zones” for that matter.
There are a couple of interesting points in the draft of the AFMAN. I wonder how those made it past the legal review.
3.2. All personnel receiving a USAF SF LEOSA credential who choose to carry a concealed weapon should obtain concealed carry or self-defense insurance with civil and criminal defense coverage in the event they are involved in an off-duty LEOSA Use of Force incident. The Air Force has no liability and will not provide legal defense if an individual is involved in an off-duty LEOSA Use of Force incident. The USAF role is solely to determine that all requirements to carry under LEOSA are met; any action taken by the individual is their personal responsibility.
3.3. Personnel should also consider carrying a “grand jury kit.” A recommended grand jury kit consists of the AF Form 688D or E, weapons qualification documentation, driver’s license or state issued identification card, proof of ownership for the weapon carried, copies of DoDI 5525.15, this AFMAN and the LEOSA Act legislation.
While I have issues with the underlying law, I’m very glad to see that we will be welcoming a wide variety of new, serving and Veteran military LEOs to the concealed carrying public and I’m also glad to see the Air Force is finally making some headway with this.
Feel free to read the DRAFT AFMAN LEOSA.