http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/arti...d898298826.txtFederal firearms act cannot be used in case
By Journal staff Friday, August 29, 2008
The Meade county grand jury that indicted a Seattle police officer for bringing a gun into a Sturgis bar in the early morning hours of Aug. 9 could not have used the federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004 to exonerate him, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Thursday.
Congress passed that law in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to exempt qualified law enforcement officers from state laws that prohibit the carrying of a concealed weapon. But because the legislation was never implemented by its rule-making agency - the U.S. Attorney General's office -- the Meade County grand jury could not have used it in any case to defend the actions of Seattle policeman Ronald Smith, according to Carrie DiPirro, public information officer in the Denver office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Nowhere in America would that act have been considered by a grand jury, DiPirro said.
"The act was passed, but it's never been enforced by the Attorney General's office," she said. Congress directed the U.S. Attorney General's office to meet the conditions for its implementation - such as establishing the necessary databases and identifications -- something which DiPirro said apparently has never been done.
The Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act amended the federal criminal code to authorize qualified law enforcement officers (including certain qualified retired officers) carrying the photographic identification issued by their governmental agency, notwithstanding state or local laws, to carry a concealed firearm. That authorization is not intended to supersede state laws that permit private entities to prohibit the possession of concealed firearms on their property, or prohibit the possession of firearms on state or local government property. The law also would not cover any officer under the influence of alcohol and it excludes from the definition of "firearm" any machine gun, firearm silencer, or destructive device.
Smith and four other men were charged on two alternative concealed weapon permit violations. According to the South Dakota Secretary of State's Web site, Washington and South Dakota do not have reciprocity of concealed weapons permits, but Attorney General Larry Long said Thursday he could not immediately confirm that.
"We're not sure if Washington is or not," Long said.
The grand jury issued alternative concealed weapon permit indictments for Smith and the others. The men could be convicted of carrying a concealed pistol without permit or failing to abide by a permit of a reciprocal state, but not both counts, Long said.