By Kerry Patton
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
I will never forget my last encounter of risk at a main gate on a military installation. The entire Department of Defense was on high alert. It was the end of spring 2001.
Weighing close to 300 pounds and speaking in odd ways, the suspect made our team wonder whether he was mentally deranged or on some type of intoxicating substance. Without any credentials or proper identification, he was refused entry on the installation.
Unfortunately, he refused to voluntarily depart.
Negotiating with the individual failed. The only thing we could do next was physically detain him for violating federal laws dealing with trespassing along with some other laws which correlated with the incident.
Years earlier, while working on the southern land border, I was put in a somewhat similar situation having to physically get down and dirty with another suspect. This time, the individual wanted to flee back across the southern land border knowing he would be caught smuggling over 100 pounds of cocaine in the floorboard of his vehicle.
The alarm sounded and I turned to pin-point the suspect’s exact location. I was armed, wearing my badge, and young.
After sliding myself across the hood of a few vehicles, I was in position. I broke myself down like a linebacker playing football ready to tackle a running back.
The drug smuggler was short and stocky. I felt his stomach impact my shoulder. My arms wrapped around his waist. My legs squatted upright lifting him off his feet slamming him into the ground. It was a text-book tackle Jack Lambert or Dick Butkus would have been proud of.
I heard a crowd on top of us doing their best to help in the apprehension. But then, as we continued to struggle, I felt a quick tug on my issued .40 caliber. Extreme fear kicked in. Someone was going for my gun.
Thankfully, my weapon wasn’t taken from me by the suspect. It was however taken by one of my counterparts ensuring the suspect couldn’t use it against anyone during the scuffle. I will never forget that day considering no matter who took my weapon, it was a simple task.
In 2001, I ensured to secure my weapon in the small facility where our gate guards kept their gear prior to putting my hands on the 300 pound behemoth. There was no way this potentially drugged individual was killing me with my own gun.
I was much better prepared in 2001 to deal with such an incident. I had trained for many years on my own and through numerous government furnished schoolings in mixed martial arts and hand to hand combat. Facing a man close to 100 pounds more than I and potentially drugged, confidence ensured my teammates and I would go home unharmed that night.
We did what we had to do in securing the suspect. But that day, along with that which I endured on the southern land border, will always stick with me. They weren’t the only times I had to put my hands on a suspect but hopefully they will be the last.
While I don’t live in a state of paranoia, I do know there are some bad folks in this world who know me. They are individuals who would love nothing more than to see me and or my family seriously injured or worse, killed. Some of these persons are violent criminals while others are known terrorists.
As a civilian, I have not been legally authorized to carry concealed in all 50 states once I left government service—until now.
Thanks to President George W. Bush, in 2004, the Law Enforcement Officer’s Safety Act (Public Law 108-277) went into effect. The law exempts qualified active and retired law enforcement officers from local and State prohibitions on the carrying of concealed firearms.
Unfortunately, it didn’t include federal law enforcement and military police officers.
In 2010, President Barrack Obama signed the Law Enforcement Officer’s Safety Act Improvement Act (Public Law 111-272). This law improves the ability of retired officers to comply with the documents required by existing Federal law when carrying a firearm under 18 USC 926C. Unfortunately, this law also failed to include federal and military law enforcement.
Another improvement to these laws was made on January 2nd 2013 when President Obama signed the controversial National Defense Authorization Act. Within the NDAA, the Law Enforcement Officer’s Safety Act was amended, now authorizing separated federal law enforcement and military police to carry concealed.
The new law specifically mandates five key requirements needing to be met prior to carrying concealed:
1. Has separated from service in good standing with a government agency as a law enforcement officer for an aggregate of ten (10) years or more or separated from such an agency due to a service-connected disability after completing any applicable probationary period of such service.
2. Was authorized by law to engage in or supervise the prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution or the incarceration of any person for any violation of law.
3. Had statutory powers of arrest or apprehension under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
4. Is not under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating or hallucinatory drug or substance.
5. Is not prohibited by Federal law from possessing a firearm.
Brigadier General Allen J. Jamerson, Air Force Director of Security Forces, released a memo providing a lawful order prohibiting all US Air Force Security Forces and Department of the Air Force Police Officers from authorization to exercise their newly established rights to conceal carry under the Public Law 111-272.
After contacting the Air Force Press Desk about Brig Gen Jamerson’s memo, they informed, “Guidance is still being developed by DoD.”
Did Brigadier General Jamerson issue an unlawful order by prohibiting key personnel to render their newly established rights?
Is the Department of Defense intentionally delaying the matter knowing this law was signed into effect two months ago? Surely they were part of the decision making process wish prompted President Obama’s signature for this new Public Law.
The gun debate continues today in America. Many citizens express concern over policy makers potentially implementing limitations on the 2nd Amendment. 18 USC 926c and the means in which the DoD is handling the new law should spark even further debate.
Image: source: www.Army.mil; author: The U.S. Army; public domain
Kerry Patton, a combat disabled veteran, is author of Contracted: America’s Secret Warriors