Ex- Prison Guards Can Fight Gun Restrictions

     (CN) — Retired District of Columbia corrections officers can challenge a local law that does not classify them as “law enforcement,” thus prohibiting them from qualifying for a concealed carry permit, the D.C. Circuit ruled.
     The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act allows active and retired police officers to carry a concealed firearm, subject to certain conditions.
     To qualify, the officer must have left the force in good standing after at least 10 years of service, a photo id showing their former position with law enforcement, and a certification indicating that the former officer met firearms standards for active duty officers.
     Plaintiff officers, led by Ronald Duberry, are all former D.C. correctional officers, but they are unable to qualify for a concealed firearm because D.C. law does not give them law enforcement status or “arrest authority.”
     A federal judge dismissed their claim on the basis that the Act does not “unambiguously create the individual right that plaintiffs seek to enforce.”
     But a divided D.C. Circuit reinstated the lawsuit Friday.
     “Congress defined who is a qualified law enforcement officer to apply not only to police officers but to employees in related law enforcement areas who had a power of arrest,” Judge Judith Rogers said, writing for the panel’s 2-1 majority. “As Congress deemed the federal right to be of preeminent importance, notwithstanding state laws prohibiting the concealed carry of firearms, it left no discretion for a state to revise the historical record of an individual qualified law enforcement officer.”
     Rogers said the right to carry a concealed weapon should be considered a former officer’s individual right, and the District’s failure to classify them as law enforcement may deny them that right.
     Judge Karen Henderson dissented.
     She said that any right granted the officers by the Act was subject to the application of local and state rules, and if so, the dispute is a local matter that should not be in federal court.”To me, it makes perfect sense to conclude that the Congress intended a state court to determine whether one of its retired law enforcement officers is ‘qualified,’ that is, whether he possessed certain state law authority, so that he can obtain a state-issued certification, a condition precedent of LEOSA’s authorization to carry a concealed weapon,” Henderson said.

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