Correction Officers Push for Right to Carry Firearms

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Massachusetts correction officers are appealing to lawmakers to pass legislation they say will help them protect themselves and their families from threats associated with their jobs.

According to the State House News Service, Norwell Republican Rep. David DeCoste’s bill would include state and county corrections officers in Massachusetts under the provisions of the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act. The federal law allows qualifying active and retired law enforcement officers to carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction regardless of state or local laws, with certain exceptions.

“I know all of you, my colleague from Salem, my colleague from Fall River, with law enforcement experience, understand that over the course of a 30-year career, many of these men and women make enemies,” DeCoste told the Public Safety Committee on Wednesday, referring to retired police officers Rep. Paul Tucker and Rep. Alan Silvia. “It is a good idea to allow them at least the option to carry a firearm after they’ve retired and while they’re on duty, in order to protect themselves.”

Kevin Flanagan, the legislative representative for the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union, told the committee his union’s approximately 4,000 members have an “extremely difficult job.” He said one officer was “violently attacked and sliced in the head several times” at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center Tuesday and is recovering well after receiving stitches.

“We are subject to threats of violence and death every day. These include threats to our families and loved ones,” Flanagan said. “These threats don’t stop when we punch out at the end of the day or when we retire. A lot of times these threats carry over onto the streets.”

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