Federal Cops Can Pack Heat On Furlough Under House-Passed Bill

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., has introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., has introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Matt Rourke/AP

Federal law enforcement officers would be allowed to carry their service weapon during a government shutdown or other circumstances causing furloughs, under a bill the House just passed.

Lawmakers on Tuesday approved the 2015 Federal Law Enforcement Self-Defense and Protection Act, which was prompted by the October 2013 government shutdown when agencies were unsure whether law enforcement personnel could carry their official firearm during such an event.

“It is imperative that our federal law enforcement officers have a clear understanding of their authority, and that no bureaucratic obstruction prevent them from protecting themselves and their communities,” said Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association National President Nathan Catura.

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Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., has introduced a similar bill in the Senate.

The bill covers furloughs that occur during a government shutdown due to a lapse in appropriations, downsizing, reduced funding or lack of work. Law enforcement officers would be able to carry a government-issued concealed weapon during involuntary furlough covered by the legislation.

“Federal law enforcement officers remain a target even when they are off-duty,” the legislation said. “Over the past three years, 27 law enforcement officers have been killed off-duty.” Those dangers still exist during a furlough, said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga.

“Crime does not stop during a government shutdown, and criminals do not get furloughed,” Collins said. “This bipartisan legislation recognizes that federal law enforcement officers can be confronted by job related threats at all times, and the dangers of their jobs don’t stop for temporary lapses in federal funding.” 

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