Congress, Cops, and the Right to Carry

I grew up around law enforcement. My father spent most of my life wearing a badge, first as a local cop, then as a small town police chief. Even after his second retirement, he worked for a time as a part-time deputy a couple of days a week at the county courthouse.

As such, I’ve got a ton of respect for the good men and women who do a hard job and try to do it well.

Yet that doesn’t mean they should get special status when it comes to gun rights, especially with regard to what they’re doing in their day-to-day lives as opposed to on the job.

It seems, though, that the GOP-controlled House recently passed a bill that gives them just that.

Recently, a vote in the House of Representatives granted police officers nationwide concealed carry privileges. The vote resulted in 221 to 185 for the new government-issued privilege. The bill is called H.R. 354 Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act “LOESA Reform Act of 2024.”
This new government-issued gun privilege rewarded to active and retired law-enforcement officers grants them the freedom to carry a firearm in places like school zones, national parks, and state, local, or private properties open to the public. It also includes certain federal facilities that are accessible to the public. The bill also widely expands the ability for certain law-enforcement officers to cross state lines with concealed carry firearms and reduces the frequency of which retired law enforcement would need to re-qualify in order to meet certain standards.
Aren’t they lucky?
I use the word privilege and I hope you can recognize my sarcasm because I don’t remember the Second Amendment reading, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed, as long as those people are current or former police officers.”

Writer Dan Wos goes into a discussion of why this measure was likely floated, mostly in response to a combination of crime and the failure of the 1990 Gun Free School Zone Act. 

However, he also notes:

The irony of this bill is not so much the fact that certain privileges are given to certain people but more the idea that the government has taken a right, turned it into a privilege, and has found a way to make us argue over who deserves that privilege.

Pretty much.

Yet some would argue that by the very nature of what police do, they’re more likely to need a firearm than most people would. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve made that argument in the past.

However, let’s understand a few things.

First, most police officers go their entire careers without ever discharging their weapon in the line of duty. There is also no evidence to suggest they’re under any more threat in their private lives than anyone else. Sure, the criminal going after the cop who put them away makes for great entertainment on TV or in the movies, but there’s just not a ton of that happening.

Particularly in areas like schools, federal buildings, and other places where you or I are prohibited from carrying a firearm but off-duty police may be able to.

Now, understand that I don’t begrudge police officers carrying off duty. It makes perfect sense to me. After all, I carry and I don’t see the worst humanity has to offer on a daily basis. OK, that’s not true since I work in politics, but you get my point.

What this is about is how our rights are restricted in the first place, and then certain animals become more equal than others by having part of those rights restored. As Wos argues, that makes them privileges, and we all know how privileges go. Those which are given can be taken away.

Rights, at least in theory, cannot.

It’s not that police have no reason to carry in any of these places, it’s that none of us should be restricted in such a way in the first place. Our rights shouldn’t be limited because we opted a different line of employment, yet that’s essentially what this bill does and what the long history of gun control does as well.

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