Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 (HR 218)
On July 22, 2004, President George W. Bush signed into legislation a new federal law, which exempts law enforcement officers from state laws prohibiting carrying concealed firearms. The law allows “qualified” law enforcement officers, current or retired, to carry a concealed firearm in any state without a concealed handgun permit. An officer becomes “qualified” if he or she is a currently certified officer and:
1. Has full arrest powers;
2. Is authorized by his or her agency to carry a firearm;
3. Is not the subject of any disciplinary action by their employing agency;
4. Meets their employing agency’s firearms qualification requirements;
5. Is not under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and
6. Is not prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm.
For a retired officer, the officer must meet the following to be “qualified”:
1. Retired in good standing;
2. Prior to retirement had full arrest powers;
3. Had 15 or more years of employment as a law enforcement officer; or
4. Retired due to a service connected disability;
5. Has a non-forfeitable (vested) right to retirement benefits with employing agency;
6. During prior 12 months met state’s firearms qualifications; and
7. Is not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In Oregon, ORS 166.250 generally prohibits a person from carrying a firearm concealed upon their person. However, ORS 166.260 creates an affirmative defense to prosecution for “Sheriffs, constables, marshals, police officers, whether active or honorably retired, parole and probation officers, or other duly appointed peace officers.” This statute is not limited to Oregon law enforcement officers on its face, so it also applies to officers from out of state.
Oregon presently allows retired officers to carry concealed handguns without the “qualification” requirements of the federal law. In particular, the federal law is limited to retired officers who have either 15 years employment or have suffered a service-connected disability which would significantly limit its reach regarding out-of-state officers.
HR 218 DOES NOT specifically supersede state law regulating possession of firearms in public buildings such as courthouses and schools; the only application is to carrying concealed handguns. Therefore, a retired officer MAY NOT carry a concealed handgun in a public building, as is prohibited in ORS 166.370 - the new law does not change this.
With this Oregon law in mind, the issue for Oregon’s law enforcement officers is making sure Oregon, through DPSST, certifies that retired officers have met Oregon’s firearms training requirements every 12 months, then that retired officer may lawfully carry a concealed handgun in other states.
In an attempt to provide answers to the many questions regarding this new federal legislation, the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) created an Oregon HR 218 Information Packet that was sent out to each law enforcement agency. The packet includes the Oregon approved Course of Fire for HR 218 compliance, sample Oregon HR 218 Firearms Qualifications Card, and other resources. Law enforcement agencies and honorably retired law enforcement officers with questions can contact Director Eriks Gabliks at (503) 378-2332 or firstname.lastname@example.org
State Standard Course of Fire for Retired Officers - DPSST has received a number of calls regarding the section of this legislation that deals with retired police officers. The Police Policy Committee of the Board on Public Safety Standards and Training approved the DPSST Basic Police Practical Qualifications Course (PQC) to meet the requirement of this legislation. A number of agencies wish to provide the firearms qualifications for either retirees from their agency or for retirees from other agencies who live in their community. We have sent the PQC for agencies who wish to provide this program. This document will only be sent to law enforcement agencies or private firearms training facilities with honorably retired law enforcement officers on their cadre.
State Standard Firearms Qualification Card for Retired Officers - In addition to the PQC, Oregon, through DPSST, has created a state standard firearms qualification card for retirees who qualify under this program. We ask that if your agency qualifies retirees in firearms, you use this state standard format so that officers who encounter this card have a method to verify its validity. Questions regarding the Oregon HR 218 Firearms Qualification Card should be directed to Director Eriks Gabliks at (503) 378-2332 or email@example.com
Firearms Facilities Network for Retired Officers - We realize many agencies are having budget and staffing challenges and as a result many agencies may not be able or willing to provide firearms qualifications for retired law enforcement officers. If your agency wishes to provide the firearms qualifications, you may charge the retiree a fee for this service. It is the goal of DPSST to provide retirees with a resource system that provides retirees with contact information for law enforcement agencies, as well as approved private firearms ranges, that are providing HR218 qualifications for retirees. If you are interested in being on the HR 218 firearms qualification system, please contact Director Eriks Gabliks at (503) 378-2332 or firstname.lastname@example.org
. This list will be maintained on DPSST’s web page and updated as necessary.
Challenges to Date
The HR 218 Program was approved by the Police Policy Committee of the Oregon Board on Public Safety Standards and Training in the winter of 2004. DPSST rolled-out the program soon after in February 2005. The challenges to local law enforcement agencies have been minimal. Offering the HR 218 program is optional and not required. A number of private firearms ranges, who employ honorably retired law enforcement firearms instructors, are involved in the HR 218 Program and play an important role. The largest challenge to date has been that which is experienced by retired police officers who did not receive photo identification cards when they retired from their respective agency. If a retiree wants to carry a firearm our of state under HR 218, they are required to carry both the Oregon HR 218 Firearms Qualification Card and a photo identification card from their former employer indicating they are honorably retired.