A program that allows retired law enforcement officers to carry a concealed firearm is drawing controversy at the state Capitol.
The program is based on a federal law adopted in 2004. The federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, or LEOSA, allows for active and retired officers to carry a concealed firearm.
States, including Hawaii, allow retired officers to carry a concealed gun as long as the retiree demonstrates proficiency with the firearm, passes a medical exam for mental fitness and registers the gun.
The program in Hawaii has been around since 2008, established under then-attorney general Mark Bennett, but only with an interim set of rules. Now, lawmakers are considering making it permanent.
The attorney general’s office says it wants to firmly establish the rules to deal with concerns over liability.
Proponents say a retired officer needs to carry a gun in order to deal with threats the officer encountered during his or her time on the force.
However, opponents say concealed firearms is just plain dangerous.
“It seems logical to us that possession and access to firearms is bad enough. Carry them concealed just increases the danger to potential victims, bystanders, law enforcement. We say absolutely not,” said Nanci Kriedman, CEO, Domestic Violence Action Center.
“There’s always a threat against actions you had in the past as a police officer. I myself have been threatened even when I was chief so that does happen,” said retired Honolulu police chief Lee Donohue.
Donohue also said the retired officer will, because of his or her training and background, no doubt want respond to an emergency and may need the firearm for protection.
The proposal to enable the state attorney general to draw up permanent rules for the conceal-carry program will have its next public hearing Tuesday in front of the Senate’s judiciary and labor committee.
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