by Sean Maloney, Attorney at Law, Second Call Defense
Now that you are retired, or preparing to retire, there are a number of changes you should be aware of concerning carrying a firearm under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA). For example, because of your retired status, things have changed regarding where you can carry a firearm, and importantly who is going to pay to defend your actions if you are ever forced to use lethal force in self-defense.
In the wake of attacks against law enforcement officers across the country, remember that to those who would harm you and your families, you are still the police. Before carrying under LEOSA make sure to check the requirements under federal law and applicable state statutes.
Who pays to defend your actions under LEOSA? Simply, you do! For the most comprehensive protection available anywhere for armed self-defense, including your response under LEOSA rely on Second Call Defense.
Here are eight things you need to be cognizant of as you begin to carry as a retired law enforcement officer.
1. Carry Proper ID
A department-issued photo ID indicating that you are retired is required and a state-issued certification that you have met the firearms qualification must be in your possession whenever you are carrying under LEOSA.
Some states make it easy by providing the form online, along with the state qualification course that needs to be filed to meet the requirement. Some departments also provide a badge that states retired, but it isn’t required by federal law to have a badge. There are also LEOSA badges available online.
2. Understand Where You Can and Can’t Carry under LEOSA
Things have changed with your retired status; you cannot carry everywhere as a retired Law Enforcement Officer that you carried while still employed. For example, if there is a sign on a business stating, “Firearms Prohibited” or “No Guns” that now applies to you. Even, federal property like the post office is off limits and a no-carry zone for you. Alcohol in your system, any percentage, even under the legal limit in some states, makes it illegal to carry.
3. While You Are No Longer Law Enforcement, You Are Still a Protector, It’s Your Nature
Now that you have met the criteria for lawful carry under LEOSA, how should you respond if you are placed in a situation that requires you to draw your firearm and/or discharge the firearm?
Years of training have ingrained a verbal challenge in conjunction to drawing your weapon. “Stop! Police! You are under arrest” is no longer authorized and could potentially place you in jeopardy of being charged with impersonating a police officer. The courts may be understanding about your years of training in issuing this type of verbal challenge, but better safe than sorry. Pulling out your retired ID and showing your badge prior to the officers responding to the scene could also get you charged.
4. Your Use of Deadly Force is No Longer Sanctioned Under the 4th Amendment
As a police officer you were authorized to use deadly force under a variety of circumstances, including using it to stop fleeing dangerous felons. As a retired police officer, you are only authorized to use deadly force under the restrictions of the state statutes of the state you are in when forced to use your firearm. Universally, the legal standard is, when you are in fear of imminent death or serious bodily injury or harm, only then can you use lethal force. Study the laws that apply to the use of deadly force by civilians, in the state you’re in, because you are a civilian now and that is how you will be judged. Remember firearms laws change from state to state, go to https://handgunlaw.us for current up to date information on the laws of the state you are in or will be traveling.
5. You Only Have the Power of Citizen’s Arrest under LEOSA
Seriously consider what this means. Decide beforehand what situations you are willing to interject yourself into as a private citizen. You have no back up, no radio, no body armor or badge. The advice I give to retired law enforcement officers is that there is a time to be a good citizen, as a retired member of law enforcement and a time to be a good witness. Unless someone is being seriously injured or killed, be a good witness. You can no longer be law enforcement – you’re retired.
6. If it is Safe, Stay on the Scene and Make Notifications to Law Enforcement as soon as Practical
So, you have been forced by the assailant’s actions to draw your firearm and/or discharge your firearm. Now what? In most people’s minds, flight equals guilt, so stay put if it is safe to do so. If you must leave for safety or another reason, stay safe, close to the scene, and call 911.
- The call: My advice is if you can, make the 911 call yourself, if you cannot do so, get someone else to dial 911 and report the incident. Advise the 911 Operator that you are retired Law Enforcement, you were in fear for your life, that there has been a shooting, provide your physical and clothing description, and request police and an ambulance. Remember you may not be the first person to call 911, and you may have been identified as the bad guy.
- The Law Enforcement welcoming committee: If possible, have someone you trust waiting outside of the immediate scene or building (if you are inside) to repeat the information you provided the 911 Operator to the Officers that arrive on the scene.
- If safe to do so: Holster your firearm and have your ID in your hand. To the responding Police Officers, you’re just a person with a gun until you have had the opportunity to prove otherwise. Keep in mind, that Officers are responding to a shooting and a person with a gun, not a retired Law Enforcement Officer. Remember what it was like when you were faced with a comparable situation on duty and follow all of the Officer’s instructions without hesitation. If the circumstances permit, face the direction that the police will arrive so that you aren’t startled by their verbal commands and mistakenly killed because you turned toward them with a gun in your hand. If possible present your hands in a non-threatening manner with your ID in your hand as they arrive.
7. Training with your Firearm should not end with Retirement
You spent countless hours at the range over your career in Law Enforcement to become safe and proficient in the skill of firearms. Don’t let those skills you worked so hard to build erode overtime, practice! It only takes a few months for your physical skills to erode, and less time to lose that mental edge and situational awareness that served you so well and protected you all those years on the job. Stay alert, nothing has changed but your daily routine.
Self-defense with a firearm is not intuitive, and just because you have carried a firearm on your body for years, doesn’t make you an expert. There is no magic to remaining proficient with your firearm after retirement except for practice. Safety skills should be practiced every time you handle a firearm, but you should also regularly practice those emergency performance skills you were trained on over the years, such as clearing malfunctions, misfires, double feeds, emergency reloads, drawing from concealment, whatever it was you were trained to do before retirement, continue training on after retirement.
There’s always more to learn, have fun learning. Whether you take the time to dry fire practice at home on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, or gather at the local range to have some fun practicing with family and friends, the important thing is to practice.
8. Protect Yourself and Any Family Member who Carries a Gun with Second Call Defense
As retired Law Enforcement, Second Call Defense provides you and your family members with the most comprehensive protection for armed self-defense available anywhere. Second Call Defense provides retired law enforcement and civilians with Criminal Defense protection and Civil Defense protection for those who find themselves in need of legal protection after using lethal force to defend their lives, the lives of family members and other innocent victims.
The last thing you want to be faced with during your retirement, is to be forced to use your hard-earned retirement savings to pay for legal defense costs, or worse yet being forced to go back to work to pay your legal defense costs created by being forced to use lethal force in self-defense. That was never part of your retirement plan, so protect your retirement savings, fund, or pension with a Second Call Defense membership, for the most comprehensive legal protection available anywhere.
The ability to carry a firearm using LEOSA provides you with the ability to legally carry a firearm to protect yourself, family, and community. The first thing you need to do is understand the new set of rules that you’re carrying a firearm under as a retired Law Enforcement Officer. Your continued dedication to protecting yourself, family, and community is what you do, is who you are, so protect yourself and your retirement with Second Call Defense. This is a step forward on the road to your long, healthy, hard-earned enjoyable retirement.