This bill would amend the Gun Free School Zones Act to allow a qualified off-duty or retired law enforcement officer to carry a concealed firearm in a school zone if a local school board adopts a policy allowing it. Current law allows only on-duty police officers to carry firearms in school zones. The bill would impose no requirements on local school districts.
What is House Bill H.R. 1501?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 1501
In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to give local school districts the option of allowing off-duty or retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons in school zones to protect students:
“If a school wants to allow trustworthy retired or off-duty police officers to protect their children, the federal government shouldn’t stop them. The Police Officers Protecting Children Act allows local schools to authorize experienced off-duty or retired officers to carry a firearm in a school zone for the safety of their students. This is especially important for schools in our rural communities where law enforcement may take a significant amount of time to respond to an emergency. A well-placed retired or off-duty officer could save lives.”
Laclede County Sheriff David Millsap adds:
“Not allowing current law enforcement officers, or qualified retired law enforcement officers to carry weapons at schools simply puts children’s lives at risk. Officers routinely put themselves in harm’s way during their shift and that commitment does not stop at the end of shift. Retired law enforcement officers are too valuable of a resource to be put on shelf. Let the professionals continue to protect our children on or off duty.”
Rep. Hartzler got the idea for this bill from one of her constituents, Kenny Goth, a retired 36-year veteran police officer from the Clinton Missouri Police Department. After Goth retired, he was prohibited from using his police training to protect his grandchildren when he visited them at school. Goth says:
“Congresswoman Hartzler’s bill will give retired police officers the chance to look after their own. When my grandkids are at events after school with huge crowds and no security, as a former law enforcement officer, it makes me uncomfortable. The schools are tight on funding, so they can’t hire more resource officers, but retired law enforcement individuals like myself can help. It only makes sense for schools who want to, to let retired or off-duty police officers carry a firearm to protect schoolchildren. I’m pleased the Congresswoman is moving forward on this important bill to help protect our children.”
"[This bill] would ensure that an off-duty of retired officer would not place himself in legal jeopardy by attending a school event. As a nation, we are working to make our schools safer for our children. By [allowing retired and off-duty policy officers to carry firearms in schools], we also improve the safety of our school campuses. Law enforcement officers are never 'off-duty' — they are dedicated public servants trained to respond when there is a threat to the peace or to our public safety. [This] bill will help to ensure that officers do not have to choose between obeying the letter of Federal law with their duty to aid those in danger."
Of Note: In 2016 the state of New Jersey enacted a law that stations armed, retired cops inside New Jersey schools. To qualify as a “Class Three” police officer, retired cops would have to meet the same firearm safety qualifications as active officers and undergo school resource officer training.
- Sponsoring Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) Press Release (116th Congress)
- Sponsoring Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) Press Release (115th Congress)
- Fraternal Order of Police Letter (In Favor, 115th Congress)
Summary by Eric Revell(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Juanmonino)
Police Officers Protecting Children Act
To allow certain off-duty law enforcement officers and retired law enforcement officers to carry a concealed firearm to protect children in a school zone.
- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
Committee on the JudiciaryCrime, Terrorism and Homeland SecurityIntroducedMarch 5th, 2019
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