NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Anti-Terror Suggestion: Arm Off-Duty Police

April 3, 2003

Legislation before Congress would allow off-duty and retired police officers to carry guns when they travel. Proponents of the measure say this might be an inexpensive and effective way to discourage potential terrorists.

Supporters point to what they see as absurdities in current laws governing officers carrying weapons when they are not on duty:

  • Over 8,000 state and local police departments nationwide employed about 450,000 full-time, sworn police officers in 2000.
  • Yet these officers can't carry guns when they travel to other states.
  • While 43 states allow civilians to carry concealed handguns, out-of-state officers can't carry guns when they travel to those states.
  • Moreover, some states don't allow their own officers to carry guns when they are off duty.

Proponents of the suggested legislation, which overwhelmingly passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in March, make the case that the nation boasts a large reservoir of police officers trained in firearms use and other valuable procedures whose expertise is not being utilized in these perilous times.

Source: John R. Lott Jr. (American Enterprise Institute), "Can U.S. Be More Secure by Arming Off-Duty Cops?" Investor's Business Daily, April 2, 2003.


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