However, this law does have limitations.  Let's say
you're a police officer in the state of Virginia, and
you've decided to take some college classes at
Virginia Tech University during your off-duty hours.  
While Virginia has one of the most liberal concealed
carry laws in the nation, you'd better not be caught
carrying on that campus.  Even after that horrible
massacre of 31 students and faculty at Virginia
Tech, their gun-free zone policy is being enforced as
strictly as ever.  The fact that you're an off-duty
police officer won't entitle you to be armed.
H.R. 218 doesn't change the politics and policies of
private and public institutions.  Here's an example
of some of the silly stuff that has always happened
and will continue to happen even with the new law:
Shortly before I retired, I was summonsed for a
court appearance in Glen Burnie, MD which is
located in Anne Arundel County which shares its
northern boarder with Baltimore City.  

I entered the courthouse behind a uniformed
Maryland State Trooper.  The Trooper walked
through an area around the metal detector.  Since I
was in full uniform, I followed the Trooper.  I didn't
get far before being stopped by a  security officer
who politely told me that I had to surrender my

While I questioned the court officer as to why I was
required to check my weapon, three Anne Arundel
county police officers and one Maryland
Transportation Authority officer walked past us into
the courthouse without being required to check
their weapons.

Now, here I was, a uniformed Baltimore Police
Lieutenant, and a member of the largest police
department in Maryland, being disarmed under
really humiliating circumstances.  I couldn't get the
court officer to come clean about why only
Baltimore police officers were being disarmed, but I
already knew the reason.  Some judge or
courthouse bureaucrat had a bone to pick with
someone, and this was his or her juvenile attempt
at retaliation.
You're going to learn very quickly that a lot of
people have a total disdain for the authority you
possess, and that handgun you carry is a powerful
symbol of that authority.  Whenever these types
have a chance to exercise any amount of authority
over you, it's a temptation that's just too good to
pass up.  When they're in a position to lawfully
disarm you, they'll feel like they've died and gone to

H.R. 218 is a good law, and it's long overdue.  
However, as a new police officer, you won't be able
to initially comprehend all the complications that will
occur along the way as the law becomes settled.  
For instance, you could find yourself in another
state and in the midst of a crime in progress.  The
implied intent of H.R. 218 appears to indicate that
you're expected to act.  But...to what degree
should you act?

Okay...let's say you're a police officer from Las
Vegas, Nevada visiting Baltimore, Maryland.  You're
having a nice dinner in an upscale restaurant when a
disturbance breaks out.  One of the restaurant's
patrons is obviously intoxicated, and he's become
loud and verbally abusive toward the restaurant
staff and other patrons near to him.  Additionally,
his verbal abuse consists of threats to commit
physical violence.
Since you're from Las Vegas, you probably have no
idea what the Baltimore Police Department's policy
is for an off-duty Baltimore officer who finds him or
herself in a situation similar to what you're now
experiencing.  You'll find that a lot of police
departments don't want their police officers, when
off-duty, to take enforcement action(s); unless,
such action(s) is absolutely necessary.  Baltimore is
no different.  An off-duty Baltimore officer's first
responsibility is to contact on-duty police officers.

At this point in your scenario, your only
responsibility under H.R. 218 would be to contact
911.  But...let's take this to a new level.  Before the
arrival of Baltimore police officers, this drunken
moron acts on his threats of violence. He picks up
his steak knife, and he goes after his waiter.  At this
point, there's no question that you're going to act.  
Thanks to H.R. 218, you have the means to
threaten or employ deadly force to the extent it
takes to protect lives and incapacitate the armed

In this knife scenario you'd act even if you weren't
armed with your handgun.  You'd most likely arm
yourself with a dining room chair and go for broke.  
However, if your suspect is armed with a gun and
you're not, you'd have few, if any, options for
aggressive action.  

In my mind, it shouldn't be too difficult for you to
comply with H.R. 218 -- even with all the questions
which will arise -- as long as you act appropriately.  
By appropriately, I mean this:  When you observe
criminal activity, you notify on-duty police officers
and assist the on-duty officer(s) when needed.  
Prior to arrival of an on-duty officer(s), you should
take enforcement action
only under imminent life
threatening circumstances.

There's also a thing called police civil liability.  Just
because you act correctly, whether it be in your own
jurisdiction or in another state, that doesn't mean
you can't be sued.  Can you imagine how much
more complicated things will get if you take
enforcement action in somebody else's back yard.

Never forget this...there's a lot of politicians who
simply hate the idea of H.R. 218.  Just because it's
a law doesn't mean anything to them.  They'll
exploit every weakness and omission (aka:
loophole) in the law to make an example...and you
don't want to be that example.

There will, for certain, be examples.  It's inevitable
that police officers from other states will employ the
use of their firearms while in another state.  As long
as the use of deadly force is to protect the officer's
life, or the life of another, there shouldn't be a
problem; unless, it can be argued that the officer's
action(s) prior to the use of deadly force in some
way contributed to the creation of the deadly force
situation.  That covers a lot of territory, and here's
my simple advice:  keep your mouth shut and act
only when a life is in imminent danger.

H.R. 218 includes retired police officers as well as
active officers.  Retired officers have a tremendous
advantage over new, or much younger, police
officers.  They've been there and done that, and
they're aware of the dangers of letting altruism
supersede pragmatism.
"H.R. 218 doesn't change the politics and
policies of private and public institutions."
~ Barry M. Baker
Concealed Carry
Law for Cops
In 2007 President Bush signed into law H.R. 218
(full text) giving active and retired police officers the
right to carry a concealed handgun anywhere in the

But...like any new law, this law has more bugs than
you can count.  The creators of the law envision
giving trained police officers the ability to take
enforcement action to protect life and property no
matter where they might find themselves.  

While a majority of states now issue concealed carry
permits, many are not that easy to obtain.  In
Maryland, for instance, concealed carry permits are
highly restrictive as to the circumstances under
which you can be armed.  Your desire to carry a
concealed handgun for self protection will not get
you apermit.

As a police officer, you'll probably be allowed to
wear your handgun off-duty anywhere in the state
where your jurisdiction is located.   Under H.R. 218  
you'll now be allowed to cross state lines while
wearing your handgun as long as you meet the
identification requirements as outlined in the law.
Copyright © 2019  Barry M. Baker