Illinois anti-gun antics leave some retirees disarmed

(AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)

Under current law, retired law enforcement can carry a gun in every state in the nation. The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, or LEOSA, was meant to allow retired officers to not need to jump through the permitting requirements that may creep up in various states.

After all, police officers make more enemies than most of us.

Granted, I’m not a fan of creating a special class of citizens. Everyone should be free to carry everywhere regardless of occupation.

However, Illinois takes a different approach. They’ve taken steps to deny some from taking advantage of LEOSA.

For more than three decades, Marcus Hargrett’s version of getting ready for work included holstering a semiautomatic pistol before reporting to the Cook County Jail.

Now retired, Hargrett and thousands of other similarly situated former county sheriff’s officers say a federal law allows them to carry weapons anywhere in the nation. But state government administrators have blocked them from doing so for nearly two decades.

In Illinois, the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, signed by President George W. Bush in 2004, permits as many as 10,000 retired officers to carry concealed weapons anywhere “notwithstanding any state or local law.”

For more than three decades, Marcus Hargrett’s version of getting ready for work included holstering a semiautomatic pistol before reporting to the Cook County Jail.

Now retired, Hargrett and thousands of other similarly situated former county sheriff’s officers say a federal law allows them to carry weapons anywhere in the nation. But state government administrators have blocked them from doing so for nearly two decades.

In Illinois, the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, signed by President George W. Bush in 2004, permits as many as 10,000 retired officers to carry concealed weapons anywhere “notwithstanding any state or local law.”

The thing is, as the article notes, they actually are.

Hargrett and some 6,000 other former correctional officers meet the definition based on federal law. So why is there an issue?

The reason is quite simple. Illinois doesn’t want anyone carrying a gun without their explicit permission. They take whatever steps they can to minimize it and this is just another example.

Men and women like Hargrett were trustworthy enough to guard the state’s correctional facilities, but in the mind of Illinois, that doesn’t mean they should be trusted to carry guns. That’s a huge problem.

However, this is what happens when you allow the demonization of guns and gun carrying to fester. It doesn’t just take a holding pattern. It grows and grows until it starts infecting people’s ability to keep themselves safe.

LEOSA is one of those laws that a lot of people in the gun community dislike, and I get it. It’s also one of those things where, at least in some places, a lot of police officers don’t take advantage of. My father, a retired police officer, has a Georgia Weapons License because he doesn’t want to fool with range qualification every year, as an example.

Yet what Illinois is doing isn’t an effort to level the playing field. It’s not because officials there don’t believe law enforcement isn’t deserving of special protection. It’s simply a matter of them not liking people carrying guns.

Plain and simple.