WASHINGTON — Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., is taking another shot at expanding concealed-carry capabilities for off-duty and retired law enforcement officers.
“Our communities have entrusted these professionals to keep us safe, and their expertise does not vanish when their uniforms are taken off,” Bacon said Wednesday at a press conference touting his legislation.
At issue is a 2004 law Congress passed to allow current and retired law enforcement to keep their firearms with them even as they travel from state to state.
But supporters say some states have sought to restrict the privileges or have interpreted the law in ways that restrict them.
Bacon said his legislation would clarify and expand the exemptions so that active and retired officers can carry guns on state, local and private property otherwise open to the public, as well as at national parks and other venues.
The legislation would allow them to carry in gun-free school zones.
Bacon said he was alerted to the issue by Omaha-area law enforcement officials who identified it as a top priority.
People who qualify for the exemptions are trained law enforcement veterans with at least 10 years of service who are free of alcohol impairment and mental illness, Bacon said.
He introduced the bill last session as well, but without success. He said this push could be different because more organizations are lining up to support it.
But he also said it will take a lot of work, given resistance to anything seen as easing firearm restrictions. For his part, he said the measure is about protecting public safety.
“If I’m ever in a situation, in a crisis, where people’s lives are at risk around me, I sure hope I have a retired cop nearby that’s armed,” Bacon said.