SUPPORT H.R. 218
The Community Protection Act Will Allow Police
Officers To Carry Weapons From State-To-State
H.R. 218, the "Community Protection
Act," is gaining momentum in Congress,
having passed out of the House Judiciary
Committee with a unanimous voice
vote, Wednesday, August 5, 1998.
Once enacted, this bill would allow qualified
current and retired law enforcement officers in
good standing to carry concealed weapons anywhere
in the country, exempt from state concealed-carry
prohibitions. Now the bill awaits a vote on the
House floor, which will probably happen when
Congress reconvenes after its August recess.
"After all these years of work with
Representatives Randy Cunningham (R-Calif.) and
Bill McCollum (R-Fla.), the original sponsors of
this life-saving legislation, it is gratifying to
see the Community Protection Act clear this
critical hurdle," said James J. Fotis,
executive director for the Law Enforcement
Alliance of America (LEAA). "We are also
pleased that 50 law enforcement groups from
around the country, including the National
Fraternal Order of Police, have endorsed the
bill," Fotis added.
"A cop may go off the clock at the end of
his shift, but he never truly goes off duty. He
always responds to criminal behavior whether he's
wearing a badge or not. H.R. 218 simply gives law
enforcement officers the tools they need to
protect innocent citizens as well as themselves
when intervening in dangerous situations,"
said Fotis, a highly decorated Long Island (N.Y.)
"It is outrageous to leave our law
enforcement officers and their families
vulnerable to the attacks of violent and
vindictive criminals whom they have previously
arrested," Fotis said, "and equally
outrageous is to deny the American people the
potentially life-saving assistance of off-duty
and retired officers."
H.R. 218 has had some interesting developments in
the past few months. The Community Protection
Act, originally drafted in 1992 by LEAA, was
re-introduced by Rep. Randy "Duke"
Cunningham (R-Calif.) last year. But just this
summer Rep. Bill McCollum (R-Fla.), chairman of
the House Crime Subcommittee, led the effort to
get the legislation approved by his subcommittee
vote after drafting a strong amendment.
With a 7-2 vote in the subcommittee, H.R. 218
received the faithful support of Reps. McCollum,
Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), Steve Chabot (R-Ohio),
Howard Coble (R-N.C.), George Gekas (R-Penn.),
Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.), and LEAA's 1997
"Freedom Award" winner Bob Barr
However, some of the Democratic subcommittee
members, namely Reps. Sheila Jackson-Lee
(D-Texas) and Marty Meehan (D-Mass.), turned
their backs on law enforcement's right to
personal protection and cast their "no"
Those "no" votes revealed the
shallowness of some politicians' oft-repeated
public claims to support law enforcement, like
Rep. Schumer who undoubtedly had influence over
Objections to H.R. 218 center in the faction of
Congress (led by Rep. Schumer in the House and
Sen. Diane Feinstein in the Senate) that refuses
to acknowledge any non-criminal use of firearms.
Some are misguided; some are avowed ideologues
who embrace the expansion of criminals' rights
while narrowing those of police and responsible
Combined with their ingrained "let the
government do it" attitude, their political
biases appear to prompt them to recoil at the
concept of memorializing via federal statute the
idea -- much less the reality -- that handguns
afford criminal violence.
As a result, Rep. McCollum was subjected to a
barrage of insults during the subcommittee
meeting, but to no avail. Regardless, H.R. 218
passed out of the subcommittee. The good news for
all CCW permit holders is that H.R. 218 is now
the vehicle for civilian reciprocity.
This newest version of H.R. 218 is particularly
galling to Rep. Schumer and friends, because it
contains language from the bill introduced by
Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) that also affords
reciprocity to those citizens with state-issued
concealed-carry permits to take their firearms
from state to state.
While the McCollum amendment does not go as far
as the separate legislation proposed by Rep.
Stearns (H.R. 339) to create a nationwide
concealed-carry reciprocity, the approval of H.R.
218 is a step in that direction, and will open
the door to reciprocity in about 60 percent of
For years, LEAA combed Congressional corridors
seeking co-sponsors and asked the LEAA members to
write and call Congress regarding H.R. 218. That
effort is finally coming to fruition.
Currently H.R. 218 has 112 co-sponsors, and the
list of law enforcement organizations supporting
this bill now exceeds 50.
If this measure fails to progress through the
105th Congress before adjournment this fall, then
efforts would have to start all over from the
scratch in January with the new Congress.
Obviously, pressure from law enforcement officers
will play an important role in the outcome of the
vote before the full House. August is prime time
for police officers to contact lawmakers while
they are home during their Congressional recess.
The best way to get in touch with your
representative or senator is to get the phone
number of their hometown office from the local
phone book (in the blue pages under U.S.
Government) or call the Capitol Switchboard at
(202) 224-3121 to be connected to their
Washington offices. Additionally,
constituents can send messages through the web
LEAA was established to provide a voice for
police officers and concerned citizens, and now
consists of approximately 65,000 members and
supporters. Additionally, LEAA strives for real
criminal justice and supports victims' rights
over criminals' rights. In addition to H.R. 218,
the organization has supported legislation like
the Police Officer's Bill of Rights; the Armor
Vest Tax Credit; HIV Protection for Correctional
Officers; the Police Officer's Disarming Bill;
Prisoner's Weight Ban and Martial Arts Bill.