Tips For Carrying Hangun Off Duty For Cops

gun-laws-state by state firearm laws for police officers,off duty police officer gun laws,carrying gun off duty for copsLet’s face it, cops love vacation. We work our rear ends off all year so we can go fishing, boating, camping or take the family to the beach, to a historical site, or to one of the big theme parks. However, summer vacation often poses a problem for us when it comes to off duty survival. It’s easy to carry a gun when you’re hiking and camping, but it’s not so easy to arm yourself when you’re frolicking on the beach with your kids, dressed only in a Speedo.

Here are a few things to consider when you’re heading out on that family road trip.

Know the Rules

Off duty cops often don’t take a firearm with them when they travel because they simply don’t know the rules and regulations of various situations. I fly with a firearm (or two or three) everywhere I go within the United States. Go to the TSA’s website and check out the regulations for checking a firearm and ammunition in your luggage, its not as complicated as you might think. If you’re driving, make sure you’re familiar with HR 218 (the Federal law that allows law enforcement officers to carry a gun in all 50 states, with the some restrictions) and your own departmental policies concerning off duty carry. Many museums and theme parks have metal detectors and/or security checkpoints, so you’ll have to have your credentials ready, but most will allow an off duty or retired cop carry their firearm in their facility. Check out each place you intend to visit beforehand and remember to be informed, patient, and polite.

Always Have Control of Your Weapon

If you’re heading to a theme park with all those insane, 60 mph upside down rides and you intend to carry a gun, make sure it’s in a holster that can withstand all that G-force! Think about a smaller weapon for off duty or vacation carry. I love my small frame .380, but there are so many great options out there now for smaller arms and more concealable carry; do your research! If you’re heading to beach or the hotel pool, be sure that you make your weapon safe and that you secure it so it can’t be accessed by thieves or curious kids.

Consider Alternative Weapons

Occasionally, it’s just not practical or safe to carry a gun, such as when you’re building ocean-side sand castles with your kids or taking a resort scuba course, so consider alternative weapons, such as knives, an improvised blunt instrument, an old credit card that’s been sharpened on one side, and of course, your own body. Cops are used to having tools available to protect themselves, but if you’re going to be in a situation where your usual tools are impractical, think about how you’ll protect yourself in advance, and most of all, be aware. As we like to say in the Street Survival seminar, “your mindset is your most valuable weapon.”

Alcohol Consumption

Some of us (okay, a lot of us) like to kick back with an adult beverage or two while we’re on vacation. If you’re going to do that, especially if you’re with a group of friends, it’s often a good idea to appoint a “designated decision-maker” before you pop open the first bottle. Cops certainly aren’t immune to the “beer-muscle” phenomenon, and we’re used to being in charge, which can make some of us a bit belligerent when we’re consuming alcohol. Others become a bit too friendly and/or let our guard down too dramatically. So many cops have lost careers in alcohol-related, off duty incidents. Don’t be one of them! It’s much easer to enjoy yourself when you know you have a trusted friend who’s got your back, both physically and mentally. And don’t forget to take your turn as the sober one every once in awhile.

Uniform Trumps Plainclothes

If you get into an off duty force situation, remember that at some point the uniforms are going to show up and you’re initially going to look like just another bad guy. Mentally prepare for this ahead of time. Inform your family and friends what may happen if you have to take off duty action. Teach them to call “911” and inform the dispatcher not only what is happening, but who you are, what you are wearing, and if you have a gun or other weapons. When the uniforms arrive, do everything they tell you to do, even as you tell them you’re a cop. Be prepared to get treated like a suspect and obey all of their orders. Put yourself in their shoes; you know you’re a cop, all they know is they’re showing up to a “man with a gun” call.

This summer, take that well-deserved road trip, head for the woods, or get on a plane and hit the beach. Just make sure you don’t leave your survival mindset behind. Stay safe!

Featured Author:Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith

Sergeant Betsy Brantner Smith is a 29-year veteran of a large Chicago suburban police department and has held positions in patrol, investigations, narcotics, juvenile, crime prevention, hostage negotiation and field training.

Betsy served as a host and content expert for the Law Enforcement Television Network (LETN) from 1999 – 2003. A graduate of the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety’s School of Staff and Command, she writes for numerous law enforcement and government publications and has been an instructor for the Calibre Press “Street Survival” seminar since 2003. Together with her husband, Dave “JD Buck Savage” Smith, she trains law enforcement personnel throughout the United States and Canada.


Below is a list by rank of cities and states with the toughest gun laws:

New York New York
Los Angeles California
Chicago Illinois
Houston Texas
Philadelphia Pennsylvania
Phoenix Arizona
San Diego California
Dallas Texas
San Antonio Texas
Detroit Michigan
San Jose California
Indianapolis Indiana
San Francisco California
Jacksonville Florida
Columbus Ohio
Austin Texas
Memphis Tennessee
Baltimore Maryland
Milwaukee Wisconsin
Boston Massachusetts
Charlotte North Carolina
El Paso Texas
Washington District of Columbia
Nashville-Davidson Tennessee
Seattle Washington
Fort Worth Texas
Denver Colorado
Portland Oregon
Oklahoma Oklahoma
Las Vegas Nevada
Tucson Arizona
New Orleans Louisiana
Long Beach California
Cleveland Ohio
Albuquerque New Mexico
Fresno California
Kansas Missouri
Sacramento California
Virginia Beach Virginia
Mesa Arizona
Atlanta Georgia
Oakland California
Omaha Nebraska
Tulsa Oklahoma
Honolulu CDP Hawaii
Minneapolis Minnesota
Miami Florida
Colorado Springs Colorado
Wichita Kansas
Arlington Texas
Santa Ana California
St. Louis Missouri
Anaheim California
Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
Cincinnati Ohio
Tampa Florida
Toledo Ohio
Raleigh North Carolina
Buffalo New York
Aurora Colorado
St. Paul Minnesota
Corpus Christi Texas
Newark New Jersey
Riverside California
Anchorage Alaska
Lexington-Fayette Kentucky
Stockton California
Bakersfield California
Louisville Kentucky
St. Petersburg Florida
Jersey New Jersey
Birmingham Alabama
Norfolk Virginia
Plano Texas
Lincoln Nebraska
Glendale Arizona
Greensboro North Carolina
Hialeah Florida
Baton Rouge Louisiana
Garland Texas
Rochester New York
Scottsdale Arizona
Madison Wisconsin
Akron Ohio
Fort Wayne Indiana
Fremont California
Chesapeake Virginia
Henderson Nevada
Lubbock Texas
Modesto California
Chandler Arizona
Montgomery Alabama
Glendale California
Shreveport Louisiana
Des Moines Iowa
Augusta-Richmond Georgia
Tacoma Washington
Richmond Virginia
Yonkers New York
Grand Rapids Michigan
Spokane Washington
Irving Texas
Durham North Carolina
Mobile Alabama
Chula Vista California
Huntington Beach California
Orlando Florida
San Bernardino California
Laredo Texas
Reno Nevada
Arlington CDP Virginia
Boise Idaho
Winston-Salem North Carolina
Columbus Georgia
Little Rock Arkansas
Salt Lake Utah
Jackson Mississippi
Newport News Virginia
Oxnard California
Amarillo Texas
Providence Rhode Island
Worcester Massachusetts
Knoxville Tennessee
Garden Grove California
Oceanside California
Ontario California
Dayton Ohio
Huntsville Alabama
Irvine California
Santa Clarita California
Tempe Arizona
Overland Park Kansas
Fort Lauderdale Florida
Aurora Illinois
Chattanooga Tennessee
Tallahassee Florida
Pomona California
Santa Rosa California
Springfield Massachusetts
Rockford Illinois
Springfield Missouri
Moreno Valley California
Paterson New Jersey
Brownsville Texas
Vancouver Washington
Salinas California
Kansas Kansas
Pembroke Pines Florida
Hampton Virginia
Syracuse New York
Pasadena Texas
Lakewood Colorado
Rancho Cucamonga California
Fontana California
Hollywood Florida
Hayward California
Torrance California
Salem Oregon
Eugene Oregon
Bridgeport Connecticut
Pasadena California
Corona California
Warren Michigan
Escondido California
North Las Vegas Nevada
Naperville Illinois
Grand Prairie Texas
Gilbert town Arizona
Orange California
Alexandria Virginia
Sioux Falls South Dakota
Sunnyvale California
Fullerton California
Mesquite Texas
Savannah Georgia
Sterling Heights Michigan
Coral Springs Florida
Concord California
Fort Collins Colorado
Lancaster California
Hartford Connecticut
Palmdale California
Fayetteville North Carolina
New Haven Connecticut
Elizabeth New Jersey
Peoria Arizona
Thousand Oaks California
Cedar Rapids Iowa
Topeka Kansas
Flint Michigan
El Monte California
Stamford Connecticut
Vallejo California
Evansville Indiana
Lansing Michigan
Joliet Illinois
Columbia South Carolina
Simi Valley California
Waco Texas
Abilene Texas
Ann Arbor Michigan
Carrollton Texas
Inglewood California
McAllen Texas
Independence Missouri
Cape Coral Florida
Bellevue Washington
Beaumont Texas
Peoria Illinois
Springfield Illinois
Lafayette Louisiana
West Valley Utah
Costa Mesa California
Downey California
Manchester New Hampshire
Clearwater Florida
Waterbury Connecticut
West Covina California
South Bend Indiana
Allentown Pennsylvania
Norwalk California
Clarksville Tennessee
Provo Utah
Lowell Massachusetts
Athens-Clarke County Georgia
Berkeley California
Ventura California
Westminster Colorado
Pueblo Colorado
Wichita Falls Texas
Burbank California
Richmond California
Arvada Colorado
Erie Pennsylvania
Fairfield California
Daly California
Santa Clara California
Cambridge Massachusetts
Green Bay Wisconsin
Olathe Kansas
Gary Indiana
Livonia Michigan
Antioch California
Portsmouth Virginia
Centennial Colorado
Charleston South Carolina
South Gate California
Port St. Lucie Florida
Cary town North Carolina
Dearborn Michigan
Norman Oklahoma
Davenport Iowa
Everett Washington
Richardson Texas
Visalia California
Rialto California
Elgin Illinois
Mission Viejo California
Macon Georgia
Midland Texas
Compton California
El Cajon California
Brockton Massachusetts
Gainesville Florida
Gresham Oregon
Boulder Colorado
New Bedford Massachusetts
Roanoke Virginia
Albany New York
Thornton Colorado
Vacaville California
Carson California
Killeen Texas
Fall River Massachusetts
Kenosha Wisconsin
Billings Montana
San Mateo California
Roseville California
Vista California
Lawton Oklahoma
Waukegan Illinois
Fargo North Dakota
Odessa Texas
Wilmington North Carolina
High Point North Carolina
Rochester Minnesota
Miramar Florida
Denton Texas
Lynn Massachusetts
Miami Beach Florida
Westminster California
Santa Barbara California
Sandy Utah
Quincy Massachusetts
Citrus Heights California
Sunrise Florida
Nashua New Hampshire
Alhambra California
San Angelo Texas
Pompano Beach Florida
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