LEOSA Does Not Exempt on School Grounds

The Federal Gun Free School Zones Act of 1995, Title 18 §922(q), does not provide an exemption for the off-duty possession of firearms on school grounds by police officers under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act.

It is a violation of federal law for an off-duty LEOSA-qualified sworn officer to carry a gun within a school zone, which is defined in §921(a)(25) as “in, or on the grounds of, a public, parochial or private school” or “within a distance of 1,000 feet from the grounds of a public, parochial or private school.”

This does not affect on-duty police officers.  Section §922(q)(2)(B)(vi) allows firearm carry “by a law enforcement officer acting in his official capacity.”

LEOSAIt is also lawful for holders of concealed firearms licenses to possess firearms in school zones, as long as the license is issued by the state in which the school is located, and the licensee’s qualifications are verified by that state.

Further, this federal legislation does permit for the transport of unloaded firearms in locked containers within vehicles on school grounds, where not otherwise prohibited.

LEOSA supersedes most state and local laws regarding off-duty LEO carry, but it does not override federal laws, such as the GFSZA of 1995.

The penalties for violating the GFSZA are a fine, imprisonment for not more than five years, or both.  Curiously, §924(a)(4) states that, despite the five year prison term, such a violation is considered misdemeanor for all other legal purposes.

By my read, we need an amendment to the GFSZA to rectify this situation.  The recent changes to LEOSA do not cover it, nor do I think that LEOSA would be the proper legal place for such an exemption.

Simply put, if you are off-duty, armed under LEOSA only, and on, or in 1,000 feet of, school property, you are in violation of federal law.  We may need to rethink that drop-off car line.

Make sure you check out my prior article on the recent improvements to LEOSA.

Randall is a twenty-three year sworn police officer in a mid-sized Florida police department.  He has been an FTO, K9 Handler, Detective and SWAT Team Leader.  He is currently the Midnight Shift K9 Sergeant and department SWAT Coordinator.

The following two tabs change content below.


Publisher at BlueSheepdog
Richard Johnson is a gun writer, police trainer and really bad joke teller. Check out his other writing on sites like Human Events, The Firearm Blog and Police & Security News.

Latest posts by Richard (see all)

  • Don

    AZ allows for LEOSA to carry on and in public and private schools. Even if posted. Look it up.

    • http://www.BlueSheepdog.com Aaron

      Thanks for the information. Can you clarify if the includes “off-duty” carry. Most States and LEOSA allows “on-duty” officers to enter, but does not specifically authorize off-duty officers. I know in the midwest most States (minus Illinois) will consider sworn officers as “on-duty” no matter if they are technically on the job at the time or not.

  • Don


    See: #12

    I subsection A

    I subsection #3

    N #4 and 5

  • Don

    LEOSA Does not necessarily mean retired. All police on or off duty and retired.

  • Don

    If you call AZ DPS They will tell you know because they don’t know. I went round and round with a State Senators aid and he showed me this. He said he was going to speak with DPS.

  • mds01

    Has any retired or off-duty police officer been arrested for this violation? I have read the GFSZA act and I don’t see that it prohibits officers from carrying. The law specifically exempts people with licenses issued by the State. In California both CCW’s and Retired Officer CCW ID’s, are issued by local law enforcement agencies. California has no state issued CCW permit. I would think the intent of Congress when passing this law was that it exempt people who are properly licenses to carry a concealed firearm, whether they be retired cops or CCW holders.

    • http://www.BlueSheepdog.com Aaron

      I’m not positive if an officer has been arrested, but there are accounts of a Chief being told to disarm before coming into the school, and a reserve officer (fully sworn) who worked as a grounds keeper for a district being fired for having a pistol while working at the school.

  • Pingback: So Maine makes 7, but.... - Page 2()