Even as the debate rages on about whether, where and when service members should be allowed to carry weapons, some troops already are permitted to carry concealed handguns even if their particular state does not have a concealed-carry law.

The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004, a little-known federal law that was extended to apply to military personnel in 2013, already gives credentialed troops — in addition to military police — authority to carry weapons while off duty in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to a U.S. military official. 

As with their civilian counterparts, the LEOSA is designed to give some service members who have another day job, such as National Guard or Reserve members who work in law enforcement, the ability to carry personal weapons to their next location without violating other DoD or federal laws.

To qualify to carry a concealed weapon, service members must be actively serving in law enforcement or have 10 or more years’ experience in law enforcement.

When it comes to determining threats, LEOSA-credentialed individuals are considered to have skill sets that go “beyond the average citizen,” the military official told Military Times on the condition of anonymity.

So far, the Air Force is the only service making headway in contracting out applicationsto get licenses under LEOSA for service members who are actively serving military members under Title 10 and Title 32, as well as separated or retired members as long as they meet the requirements and are cleared by both the Air Force and the contractor, Defense Consulting Services.

Frank Crowder, president of Defense Consulting Services, told Military Times that the Air Force has issued about 1,500 LEOSA credentials to its active, Guard and Reserve members and retired or separated members, and since December, more than 8,000 accounts have been created by individuals looking to apply for the credentials.

However, a LEOSA license does not allow members to carry handguns on military installations or in any federal facility unless their official duties require it, the military official said. Installations regulate who can carry weapons on base in accordance with DoD Directive 5210.56, the Defense Department policy that restricts that permission only to law enforcement and security personnel, those guarding prisoners, and those undergoing firearms training.

Read more of this story at MilitaryTimes.com