In 2004, a federal law was passed that exempted law enforcement – both paid officers and unpaid volunteers – from the concealed carry laws of each state. The stated goal was to increase the number of armed and trained individuals available to respond to crisis situations – especially those situations where local police forces were not yet on the scene.
This has resulted in a burgeoning market of “badges for sale,” where individuals with no real law enforcement training have joined the police forces of tiny towns across the country in exchange for donations or membership fees.
These police departments with badges for sale are located across the country but tend to be smaller municipalities that have difficulty finding funding for police needs. These departments have identified the law as a way to obtain extra funding from individuals for whom the ability to circumvent concealed-carry laws is appealing.
The list of badge-holding individuals includes billionaire hedge-fund founder Robert Mercer, actor Steven Segal, and bodyguards for wealthy individuals such as Elon Musk and the Koch brothers.
“Anyone either looking for a badge or distributing them in exchange for money should be wary, the consequences of being involved in these operations can be severe,” said Derrick Hogan, an Albany gun crimes attorney with the law firm Tully Rinckey, PLLC. In one example, a police chief lost his job and the department was shut down. This also resulted in Michigan passing new laws requiring stricter regulations of these programs.
Each state has different conceal carry laws and these laws can change. Some states prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons by anyone other than law enforcement completely. Other states allow the concealed carry of weapons with training and licensing. Regardless, being illegally in possession of a concealed weapon may result in incredibly stiff penalties and jail time. If you desire to carry a concealed weapon, be sure to comply with the laws of your state.