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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

July 27, 2004

Contact: Public Affairs Division

(202) 648-8500

Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004

On July 22nd, President Bush signed the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004, Public Law No. 108-277. The Act became effective upon the President's signature. The Act amends the Gun Control Act (GCA) to exempt qualified active and retired law enforcement officers from State and local laws prohibiting the carrying of concealed firearms.

The officers and retired officers eligible for the exemption are those meeting the Act’s definition of “qualified law enforcement officer” and “qualified retired law enforcement officer.” Among other things, the Act’s definition requires qualified retired law enforcement officers to meet, at their own expense, their State’s standards for training and qualification for active law enforcement officers. Eligible active and retired officers must also possess certain identification. Active officers may use the identification issued by the government agency by which they are employed. Retired law enforcement officers must have identification indicating that they have been tested or otherwise found to meet firearms standards established for active law enforcement officers.

Qualified active and retired officers eligible for the exemption are still subject to certain provisions of the GCA. The Act specifically states that persons who are prohibited by Federal law from receiving a firearm are not eligible for the exemption. In addition, qualified current and retired officers must undergo a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) check if they are purchasing a firearm for their own use, and federal firearms licensees must still complete and retain required records under the GCA.