Legislation would assist law enforcement in rural communities; garners support of local sheriffs
Rep. Vicky Hartzler’s HR 2513, the Police Officers Protecting Children Act, would allow off-duty and retired law enforcement officers to carry a concealed firearm while in a school zone if a local school passes a policy allowing it.
This added layer of security for schoolchildren is particularly important in rural areas because it allows for a quicker response to help rural law enforcement, whose resources are spread thin and who often have longer distances to drive when responding to an emergency.
Q & A
Q: Why is this legislation necessary? Can’t police already carry on school grounds?
A: The Gun Free School Zones Act currently permits ON-DUTY officers to carry, but restricts the ability of qualified off-duty and retired officers to protect America’s schoolchildren.
Q: Would this bill allow anyone to carry a firearm within a school zone?
A: No, this bill is narrowly-tailored to only allow qualified off-duty and retired law enforcement officers the ability to carry on school grounds. It does not permit private citizens the ability to carry on school grounds.
Q: How do you make sure that these officers are capable of handling a firearm, especially after being in retirement?
A: This bill only applies to off-duty and retired law enforcement who are considered “qualified” under the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act (LEOSA). For retired officers, they must have 10+ years of service within the law enforcement community, separate in good standing, and requalify with a firearm on a yearly basis. These retired officers are held to the same marksmanship and proficiency standards of their counterparts who are currently serving as law enforcement officers.
Q: Why is it important to allow qualified off-duty and retired law enforcement officers the ability to carry in a school zone?
A: America’s children deserve all the protections we can afford them. By allowing these dedicated law enforcement professionals to carry while in a school zone, you provide an extra layer of protection for children that federal law currently prohibits.
Q: What if my school does not want to allow people to carry a firearm on school grounds?
A: This legislation keeps an exemption in LEOSA that prohibits the carry of a firearm on state or local property unless express permission is provided. Individual states, localities, and school boards would have to take action to allow officers to exercise their ability to carry on school property.