Traveling Armed Part 1: Know the Law and Never Assume

hr 218 update 2015
July 6, 2015  
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Traveling Armed (Part 1 of 5): Know the Local Laws and Never Assume

Breach Bang Brian

I travel a lot. Frequently, I do so with a firearm. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to focus on just that: traveling (and flying) with a firearm (vs. how I carry, how I secure it, etc. — that will come in the future). As a retired LEO (that’s Law Enforcement Officer of course) I am authorized to carry a firearm in all 50 states under HR 218 – the LEOSA Act (Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act – yes, I know that was redundant). I won’t be getting in to the details of HR218 other than to emphasize that all who qualify under this act should learn as much as possible about it and stay up on any and all changes. It does not provide the complete freedom to carry a firearm you think it might.

I recently attended a conference in New York City and learned – the easy way – that I was potentially in violation of very strict laws in New York and New Jersey. I spoke with a gentleman who was scheduled to give a presentation about HR218 to active and former LEOs. I told him I was looking forward to his speech as I frequently travel armed.

He immediately asked if I was carrying, and I replied in the affirmative. He asked what type of firearm and the number of rounds I usually carry. After quick reflection, I told him, “Usually ten.”

Red Flag! – There is a NYC law banning anything over 7 rounds in a 10 round magazine (everyone feel safer now?). Okay, easily remedied…download magazines. H218 says you can carry the weapon – not that you can have 10 rounds in your magazine, you vicious desperado.

Next – “Did you fly in via Newark [New Jersey]?”

Response: “Yup.”

OK – this is where it gets serious. Real serious.  Let’s say hypothetically a fella was to fly into or out of Newark and this local LEO was correct in his understanding of the law. In fact, let’s say a fella was to walk, drive, skip, roller skate or in any other wise travel through New Jersey with hollow point ammunition. That fella could, if what the local LEO was telling me is true, expose himself to felony charges. As in, a felony charge per round. No bullshit – and no exemption for LEOs, HR218 or no. Let’s just say this fella did NOT travel with said contraband, but gosh if I had….


All those felonies are so cute when they get together like this.

I know what you’re thinking: there’s the whole “On The Job”, “retired from the Job”, wink and a nod/secret handshake/”we’re all good here right?” kinda deals that go on.


In fact, further conversations revealed of all the law enforcement and security agencies at Newark airport, the Port Authority Police are the final arbiters of law, policy, protocols and practices. In other words, the Port Police rule.

Now again you might be tempted to think there’s cop-to-cop We’re all good here, right? to fall back on, or maybe just some sort of objectively reasonable respect for a responsibly armed citizen.

Not likely.

Here’s a look at the extent of the Port Authority Police’s lack of a sense of humor. Further conversations at that conference brought up what I will characterize as a rumor about a recent class of Port Authority Police recruits. Apparently there was a celebration after said class graduated their academy prior to them embarking on their new exciting careers in law enforcement.

Didn’t go so smoothly.

A bunch of these young would-be stewards of the public trust got themselves fired. Immediately after the little celebration. Careers ended before shift number one.

What would this mean for the aforementioned fella who was hypothetically traveling through Newark Airport with a box full of hollow point contraband (x 50 rounds)? Well, in short it would have meant 50 felony charges.


Hey wait a minute – I’m retired from the job! You wouldn’t arrest a fellow LEO, would ya?

Oh, sorry. I didn’t realize a whole batch of your fellow classmates were fired for not following the rules. I guess that means you are going to follow EVERY RULE. For EVERYONE. With no wink, nod, secret handshake or We’re all good here, right?.

Nope. No exceptions for LEOSA as far as I knew and as far as the local boys could explain. It very well could be the officer was mistaken or that there is an exemption for LEOs (retired and or active) – but I didn’t know for sure, I wasn’t prepared to find out the hard way and I hadn’t done the research ahead of time to make certain. That’s a mistake I won’t make again.


And this is why I classify this lesson as being learned the easy way. I was fortunate to receive warning of a potential FUBAR by folks who were looking out for me and every other active and retired LEO. (Edit: if the officer was wrong about local law, that’s just one more reason for the traveler to know; where one guy can be mistaken so can another, and one might be trying to arrest you instead of doing you a solid.)

Now, this was just one specific jurisdiction (and was admittedly anecdotal) but it was enough to end my complacency; the lesson of course this time is that you should get yourself educated about HR218 as well as the local laws of the areas you are traveling to and through. This applies whether you’re a LEO or armed citizen traveling with a firearm, even if the local area has some sort of reciprocity. You might be within your rights to carry the gun, just not the type (or amount) of bullets. [Edit: Maybe you’re good to g0, maybe not – read the local law and don’t rely on anecdotal advice pro- or con- and if you do, get it in writing as Haggard advises in the comments below).]

More information suggested by a reader: Does the LEOSA Carry Law Apply to You? | Police Magazine

About the Author

A former copper from the Pacific Northwest, Brian “Breach Bang Brian” Montgomery somehow resembles the unlikely bastard child of Sgt. Phil Esterhaus and Ulysses Everett McGill. Despite all probability and predictions to the contrary the man loves a good bowl of grits. Like all good metrotacticals, Breach-Bang-Brian would rather buy his ammunition from Morris & Sons and pay eleventy times the non-retarded price there than shop at Wal-Mart or any other plebian retailer for bullets. We accept this because we expect him to maintain certain appearances and standards. Despite his Tier One sartorial genius and apoplectic response to jean shorts, Brian Montgomery is the sort of hair-product-using fellow who is nonetheless welcome in the company of skilled face-shooters and other assorted knuckle-draggers. A child of the 80s, Montgomery was a LEO for 2 decades who secretly yearns for the return of parachute pans and pegged jeans. As a LEO he worked everything from counter-narcotics to gang enforcement, probation & parole and of course patrol. He was (and still is) a firearms instructor and skilled interrogator with an uncanny ability to suborn intel from even the most recalcitrant tweakers, homicide suspects and other savory types. He’s had a long love affair with knives, beginning when he was just a lad working for Al Mar in a town we can’t pronounce in Oregon and he’s been decorated departmentally for valor. Yes, in case you have to ask: Breach-Bang-Brian is a Dapper Dan Man.

Brian Montgomery

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The Mad Duo are the most renowned, scholarly, door-kickingest action figures since...well, ever. They, their wretched minions and other abject flunkies are an improbable (and awesome) tale unto themselves. Read more about them here.


  1. Regular Guy

    So, reading – that tells me that a NJ person is OK to:

    1) Own said hollow points

    2) Keep them in their home

    3) Have them whilst transporting to a range OR

    4) Have them whilst hunting.

    So, looks like that, at the very least, the HP rounds aren’t an automatic felony. The subtle thing seems to be, though – you have to be in transit to a range or be going hunting (so, need an NJ hunting license).

    What is rather curious is the exemption given to ” “persons engaged in activities pursuant to N.J.S.A 2C:39-6f. . . .”

    N.J.S.A 26:39-3f. (1).

    Activities contained in N.J.S.A 26:39-6f. can be broken down as follows:

    A member of a rifle or pistol club organized under rules of the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and which filed its charter with the State Police;”

    The National Board for the promotion of Rifle Practice – that’s CMP. Not entirely certain how it applies, but it does seem quite interesting.

  2. Rob Garrett

    As a 38 year LEO and getting ready to retire, I appreciate the update and reminder. For those haters, call a fireman the next time you get robbed, jacked, or someone is coming through a window at 2:00 am. Never mind how many LEOs, retired and active, that are willing and prepared to help stop a shooter in a school, your local mall, or somewhere else. “The sheep don’t ever want to see the sheepdog until the wolf is at the door!” Col. Dave Grossman. To all the brothers, stay safe and keep your guard up.

  3. Nick

    Entitlement? I’m. Gonna call bullshit in that count, how many of you bitching about perceived law enforcement entitlement will take a polygraph exam and go through a full background check to get your basic concealed carry permit? How many of you risk your ass everyday not to get shot or killed cause some piece of shit raised their kids to not only disrespect you but human life in general? I’m a combat veteran and was foolish enough to join the infantry (granted no regrets there) still the only real job I qualified for was law enforcement. I happily served three years as a cop and seven more in law enforcement support. So I think I have some idea what I am talking about when I say good people make mistakes on occasion. The public trust if police, fire, EMS, doctors, nurses and the like is well earned and researched via background checks as well as annual financial disclosure forms if you are federal like I was. I have earned the right to be given the benefit of the doubt by other cops, as a former cop my privacy is nonexistent, I can’t get away with common things like punching the bastard who grabbed my girl’s ass in a bar cause why? It reflects poorly on my department. Seriously stop playing the victim here, all of you pro Constitutional Carry and everything is legal to everyone advocates would be the first to be arrested for shooting someone you didn’t trust with a gun walking down the street. Sadly some limits are good limits, still the majority of cops live up to the trust given to them by the people they serve, not all but more often than not.

  4. Mike

    Bottom line is, HR218 is great for LEO’s, I travel armed all the time, but you have to abide by local laws, be it ammo, mags etc. New Jersey is no exception, change ammo, full metal jacket, New York same thing 7 rd mag or 5 shot S&W.

    This law was put in by a common sense President Bush, I carry the written rules and regulations with in travel, especially when dealing with TSA, who has no idea which way is up, until shown written regulations they should know.

    • Nick

      TSA is a tough gig cause DHS keeps changing the rules. If you were a fed or went through the class you are able to fly armed too, I’m not sure about retired Leos in that respect though. Still I would never want to be an unarmed pseudo cop/bag checker. It used to be you had to track down the site manager and provide your credentials to fly armed. The site supervisor would then allow you to bypass the normal security line inconspicuously and you would then board as a normal passenger. Some schemes even provided a manifest of armed passengers so you all knew who was supposed to be carrying or not.I haven’t been through the course since 2009 so my Intel is dated though.

  5. Billy

    Great article!

    Correct on load count in some jurisdictions; no free pass with HR218.

    However, HR218 was amended and signed by President Bush to specifically deal with the NJ hollow point predicament.

    HR218, aka.. § 926B. Carrying of concealed firearms by qualified law enforcement officers was amended to include § 926B.e.2. “includes ammunition not expressly prohibited by Federal law or subject to the provisions of the National Firearms Act;”

    NJ and NY are not legal arenas where you want to have “standing”.

  6. william atherton

    It’s very clear in their law. Hollow Point ammunition is illegal in New Jersey. Period. The morons who pass laws in that state have that authority and are stupid enough to pass that law. Of course we all know that it doesn’t apply to criminals and that FMJ is much more dangerous regarding through and through shots. None of those facts change the law. I, for one, make it a point to never pass through, travel to, or spend one dime in New Jersey or buy online from any business in New Jersey. I also go out of my way not to support any business entity that operates in ANY “sanctuary city”. Good thing, as the recent news from San Francisco has shown. Idiots, one and all.

  7. Snake

    I actually had to deal with this Commie crap when I lived in New Jersey. Just moved to Texas a few weeks ago. It was legal to own hollow points in your home, but illegal to transport them… but the only .22 rounds you could ever find in NJ were always JHP.

  8. John

    I’m a sworn LEO in the tri-state area and travel armed regularly into NY and NJ. I have reached out to the NJ and NY State Police, the NYPD, and the NY SAFE Act hotline for clarification and the answers I have received are as follows: Unless you are traveling in an OFFICIAL work capacity (in Uniform and working) you must abide by each state’s respective ammo capacity limits, which are 15 rounds in NJ and 10 rounds in NY. You are in violation if you exceed those numbers in those states. Hollow-points are allowed in NJ for sworn LEOs from my understanding but I will clarify asap. It is also to my understanding that retirees must follow the same rules as active LEOs in an off-duty capacity. Enforcement of the laws is a completely separate entity but I’m 100% certain of the capacity limits for active LEOs. If you want to gamble that’s on you, I would not. Hope this helps guys.

    • Mad Duo

      Thanks John, good lookin’ out.

      • John

        No problemo, thank you for doing what you do. I’m attending Larry Vickers’ Advanced Handgun Employment course in NJ in August and I had to re-tailor my kit and prep a gun other than my service weapon to abide by NJ’s laws since I’m attending on my own and not through the department. I know you guys have been around the block, if you have any good info re: training or just plain old cop advice shoot me an email, I’m a FNG and always looking to learn. Thanks a lot, stay safe guys.

  9. Dale

    LE, active or retired, should have to go by the same laws as everybody else. Period.

    And I REFUSE to do business in NJ or NY. No exceptions. I’ve turned down several contracts that would have been a good deal for me up there, but I refuse to put myself or my employees in danger by going to those hell holes.

    • Mad Duo

      Prob’ly so. That’s not always the case, and if someone is going to do us a solid sometime we’re not going to turn it down out of some misguided sense of propriety. We also don’t voluntarily go to the highway patrol headquarters and tell ’em we’ve been speeding. In any case Dale you may have the best plan there – avoid all those fucked up places if you have the option to do so.

  10. Baker

    Sorry to offend your delicate sensitivities with the truth of your sense of entitlement. Sorry not to be in awe of your awesomeness just because you have a badge and a license from the government that gives you what the second amendment is purported to give all citizens of the United States. Rules for thee but not for me ring true enough for you?

    • Steve Rupp

      He didn’t make the rules. Good for him for taking advantage of it, though. I agree with your point- the “one law for them, another for the rest” is absolute shit, but we live in a highly-flawed and dysfunctional nation.

      • Mad Duo

        It is what it is. The point was, as bad as it could have been for a retired cop (who sometimes get a wink and a nod) think of how bad it could have been for someone else? We didn’t post the article to get people riled up about double standards or anti-cop fuckery, he was trying to let folks learn from his own mistake. Thanks for reading Steve!

    • Mad Duo

      Omar what the hell are you talking about? You’re trying to hard to find something to get mad about. We don’t feel entitled. We’re trying to help everyone learn from what could have been a really bad deal. What the fuck are you going on about? Where in there does it say there should be a special dispensation for LEOs? It does acknowledge the fact that sometimes there is a “wink and a nod” and we’re not going to apologize for it. Most of our LEOs extend that same courtesy to veterans, firefighters, nurses, etc. How about you focus on the message rather than get your ass hurt over how the message was delivered?

      • E Plebnista

        Lehigh Defense – Xtreme Penetrator: brutal cavity, good depth, not a hollowpoint.

      • Leon

        The only message in this article, and in your response, is that you apply one set of laws to one group and another to yourselves. Your attitude is part of the problem.

  11. Joe fdny ret.

    Well written article. Got Sgt. Esterhaus, but had to look up U.E. McGill. Getting older…Thanks.

  12. William Gibbons

    Correction: LEO’s are legal to carry hollowpoints under LEOSA, even in hollowpoint-banning states. It was an oversight in the original law, but one of the subsequent amendments (probably due to Communist states like NJ) stated that unless the ammo in question is federally prohibited, like AP or teflon, it is legal under LEOSA. I haven’t heard of any incidents involving out-of-state LEO’s coming up against New York’s 7-round limit, but hopefully there will be an amendment in the near future to head that off. See ‘2010 Amendment’, Or look at the FOP Grand Lodges faq’s about LEOSA.

  13. tri state tactical shooting

    I have streamlined my travel and avoid like the plague; various People’s Republiks..IL, MD, NY, MA, NJ, CA, DC…and will drive extra miles to avoid them; get to see more scenery that way and reduce the hassles. This is also why I will not shoot competitions in those places; why fund in any way the political machines in those states?

  14. Chuck Haggard

    I had to deal with this on a trip to NJ, fortunately it was before the NY magazine BS happened.

    I ended up armed with a Glock 19 loaded with 124gr +P Federal EFMJ ammo and a reload with NATO ball, and a S&W 648 BUG loaded with wadcutters. The G19 was perfect because NJ had a very strict 15 round mag limit, and still does, LEOSA or no.

    I also made sure to keep on my person the letter I had from the NJSP firearms unit telling me that said gear was GTG in NJ

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