Corrections Officers:  Let Us Carry Concealed on the Outside

Printed from:

Massachusetts corrections officers are asking state legislators to pass a bill that would allow them to carry concealed firearms almost anywhere in the state the way most other types of law enforcement officers can.

A federal law exempts current and retired “qualified law enforcement officers” from state laws limiting the ability of most other people to carry a concealed gun. The federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-277) defines a “qualified” officer, in part, as having “statutory powers of arrest” – something corrections officers who guard prisons typically don’t have.

Massachusetts House Bill 2049 would extend the ability to carry a concealed firearm to “all current and retired Massachusetts corrections officers and Massachusetts department of public safety officers” unless they are otherwise disqualified under federal law.

Corrections officers are vulnerable on the outside to inmates they deal with in prison and need the ability to defend themselves, an official from the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union told state legislators this week.

“We are subject to threats of violence and death every day. These include threats to our families and loved ones. These threats don’t stop when we punch out at the end of the day or when we retire. A lot of times these threats carry over onto the streets,” said Kevin Flanagan, the legislative representative for the union, which has about 4,000 members, during a legislative hearing Wednesday, August 28, according to State House News Service.

The lead sponsor of the bill, state Representative David DeCoste (R-Norwell), gave a nod to two state legislators who are retired police officers while arguing for the bill Wednesday.

“I know all of you, my colleague from Salem, my colleague from Fall River, with law enforcement experience, understand that over the course of a 30-year career, many of these men and women make enemies. It is a good idea to allow them at least the option to carry a firearm after they’ve retired and while they’re on duty, in order to protect themselves,” DeCoste told the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security of the Massachusetts Legislature on Wednesday, according to State House News Service.

DeCoste was referring to state Representative Paul Tucker (D-Salem) and state Representative Alan Silvia (D-Fall River).

It’s not clear when or whether the Public Safety Committee will take action on the bill.