Need clarification about law. Off duty carrying of a gun on federal property.

Need clarification about law. Off duty carrying of a gun on federal property.

This is a discussion on Need clarification about law. Off duty carrying of a gun on federal property. within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I have to go to the local Social Security Administration to get a replacement card. Can I legally carry my handgun there? I know they ...

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Thread: Need clarification about law. Off duty carrying of a gun on federal property.

  1. #1
    Member Array S.O. Interceptor's Avatar
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    Need clarification about law. Off duty carrying of a gun on federal property.

    I have to go to the local Social Security Administration to get a replacement card. Can I legally carry my handgun there? I know they have security guards that will ask if you have any weapons and then tell you to take them to your car. Normally when asked if I have a weapon at a business I just say "no" and carry on. But I don't want to get into any trouble on federal property. I have gone into the SSA, federal courthouse, and military bases before while armed, but only in uniform, and I never had a problem because I had official business there. I can not remember whether a peace officer is prohibited form carrying there off duty or not. I THINK we are, but then again I'm not sure what exactly constitutes a federal building, since I've never been in one off duty.

    Would someone please help me out? It's not a big deal either way, except that if it is illegal, I need to remember to leave it in the car, which I hate doing.
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  2. #2
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    That probably is a question you would want to get right the first time. I would probably ask my department. I know some departments require officers to carry off duty. If yours is one of them I would think it would not be a problem, but wouldn't bank on it. Have your badge and ID handy if you do and they decide to challenge you, but doubt it would be a big deal.
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    Senior Member Array TheGreatGonzo's Avatar
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    The answer is...yes, no, and maybe.

    S.O.,
    By strict interpretation of the law, you cannot carry if you are not on official business. However, policy of enforcement varies from location to location and building to building. With most SSA offices, unless it is located in a federal facility with other agencies, you won't be going through a mag, so if you conceal well, they generally won't know. However, if the Security Officer asks you if you are armed, and you lie and say you are not, you have actually committed a federal crime. Federal contract security guards (that is what the guards in SSA offices are), WHILE ON DUTY, are considered Federal Law Enforcement Officers. Additionally, if something happens and it is discovered that you are carrying a weapon, you can actually be charged. I'm not saying it would definitely happen, but it certainly could. I'm sorry, I know that does not clear things up much, but there is not definitive answer. Well, I take that back. If you must have a "definitive" answer, the answer would be "No, if you are not on official business of your agency, you cannot carry", however, that is not the most realistic answer. So, how was that? Clear as mud now?
    Gonzo
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  4. #4
    Member Array S.O. Interceptor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheGreatGonzo
    S.O.,
    Clear as mud now?
    Gonzo
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    Distinguished Member Array LenS's Avatar
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    Two reasonable options:
    - Call their security office and ask? ID yourself as LE and answer them honestly that you would not be there on official LE business. They may lock up your gun for you while you're there, they may tell you that they allow any LEO to carry with proper ID, or they may tell you to leave it elsewhere.

    - Or, go to SSA office and ID yourself, answer honestly and see what happens.

    Personally, I'd opt for the first suggestion that I made and get names if told OK to check gun there or carry. . . just in case person who screens you "isn't on the same page".

  6. #6
    Senior Member Array TheGreatGonzo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LenS
    Two reasonable options:
    - Call their security office and ask? ID yourself as LE and answer them honestly that you would not be there on official LE business. They may lock up your gun for you while you're there, they may tell you that they allow any LEO to carry with proper ID, or they may tell you to leave it elsewhere.

    - Or, go to SSA office and ID yourself, answer honestly and see what happens.

    Personally, I'd opt for the first suggestion that I made and get names if told OK to check gun there or carry. . . just in case person who screens you "isn't on the same page".
    LenS,
    Both good suggestions. However, in the case of an SSA office, there is no "security office" there. There will be a single (or in some case, two) federal contract Security Officer posted there. He/she will work for a company contracted by the US Government. You would have to find out what the company is and call their main office. And if you were to do that, I can pretty much tell you that they will give you an answer from "the book", which is, "No, if you are not on official business of your agency, you cannot carry your firearm on federal property.". You might have better luck with your second option, depending on the particular Security Officer. Some have more discretion than others, and some are allowed more discretion than others. Both good ideas, though.
    Gonzo
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    Member Array armoredman's Avatar
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    If you are required to carry off duty, you are official. No doubt about it. If ff duty carry is optional, (like my Dept), then you are not on "official business". If you look at that famous theory that LE is never off duty, and required to respond to crimes in progress in certain situations, then you are always on "official business". When the metal detector goes off, just haul out your badge wallet, show it to Joe Rent-a-Cop,(who will be impressed with a real police ID), and keep on going.

    If all else fails, check with your Dept legal advisor.
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    Distinguished Member Array RSSZ's Avatar
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    Sirs, I don't think that local laws would trump the Federal laws. I worked in the security dept. of a large NAS for a tour and we had authority over any local,county,or state LEO. The only LEO types that could come aboard the NAS without prior approval from the C.O. would be the U.S. Marshal Service,NIS,DIS,and a couple other fed's. Things could have changed now,that was 20 yrs. ago. Also, I believe it is still illegal to go into a U.S. Post Office(fed.property) armed,CCW or not. Same with a National Guard Armory. I try to obey all the laws pertaining to CCW. I want to stay one of the "good guys". If you are a LEO on official buisness then the laws might be less strict for you----- BUT---- I had some local LEO's try to tell me what they was or wasn't gonna do on "my" federal reservation, and all I had to do was pick up my radio and call the Marines. Take my word for it,no LEO wants this kinda grief.----

  9. #9
    Senior Member Array TheGreatGonzo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by armoredman
    If you are required to carry off duty, you are official. No doubt about it. If ff duty carry is optional, (like my Dept), then you are not on "official business". If you look at that famous theory that LE is never off duty, and required to respond to crimes in progress in certain situations, then you are always on "official business". When the metal detector goes off, just haul out your badge wallet, show it to Joe Rent-a-Cop,(who will be impressed with a real police ID), and keep on going.

    If all else fails, check with your Dept legal advisor.

    I'm afraid you are off base here, Armoredman. Being required by your department to carry off duty (very few agencies do that anymore, by the way, for liability reasons) does not trump federal law. Unless you are on true official business FOR YOUR AGENCY, you still cannot (by the letter of the law) carry on most federal properties. Doing so will just get you jammed up and you won't have to worry about official duty anymore, because you might be out of a job. :c) Just because an agency tells you that you can carry off-duty does not actually give you ultimate authority to do so. There are still places you can't do it. Private property owners can still refuse you access. Or try insisting to a Federal Judge that you can carry your weapon in his courtroom because your department tells you so. Ain't gonna' work. Or, perhaps a better example: You work for AZ DOC. I work for an agency that requires me to be armed at all times. Therefore, by your logic, I can walk through the mags at your correctional facility, flash my badge at you, and carry my weapon throughout the facility as I see fit because my department says so. Would that work? Of course not! Your house, your rules. I have to abide by them (and the law).

    As for impressing "Joe Rent-A-Cop" with your "real police ID", don't count on it. Many federal security guards are law enforcement officers working a second job. Additionally, while they are on duty (and I stress...ON DUTY), they are recognized by the law as Federal Law Enforcement Officers. If you lie to one, assault one, disregard a lawful order from one, etc, the charges and penalties are exactly the same as if you committed the same offense against a Deputy US Marshal, DEA Special Agent, etc. Also, guards working in large federal buildings spend all day around federal agents from every alphabet agency you can think of. Do you honestly think they are going to fall down in awe of a member of the local constabulary? LOL!

    Best bet? If you are on true official business, you are good to go. If you are not, lock it up and live without it for a few minutes. You will not meet a bigger proponent of off-duty carry than me. I'm all for it and I preach it to my guys/gals like the gospel. But with the privelige comes responsibility, to include recognizing the laws other folks have to enforce.

    Respectfully,
    Gonzo

    PS - Nope...I'm not a contract security guard, nor have I ever worked as one. But I have had some professional association with these folks and I'm pretty familiar with the law when it comes to carrying firearms (or other weapons or prohibited items) on federal property.
    "Skin that smokewagon!".

  10. #10
    New Member Array Bill's Avatar
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    The rule of thumb when entering a federal office and/or military installation is that you cannot enter it unless you are on official duty. As a patrolman for naval security, we are told not to let anyone who are armed on base unless they have prior authority from the Staff Judge Adocate or unless you are a federal LEO and have the correct credentials.

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