Court: Guards must obtain license to carry concealed weapons

A state appellate court held that a state law intended private security guards and investigators to obtain a permit before carrying a concealed weapon.

John Pawelski was tried in a criminal court for carrying a concealed weapon while on duty as a privately hired security guard. The trial court found Pawelski not guilty after determining that a state law allowed security guards to carry a concealed weapon while on duty. The state appealed the trial court's interpretation of the statute and the state's court of appeals reviewed the case for the specific purpose of determining the meaning of the state laws with regard to carrying a concealed weapon.

Several state laws generally prohibited a person from carrying a concealed weapon without first obtaining a special permit. The question before the appellate court was whether or not the laws should be interpreted in a manner that allowed security guards to carry a concealed weapon while on duty without following the requirements to obtain a permit.

After review of the state laws and the legislative intent, the court of appeals held that security guards must obtain a special permit in order to carry a concealed weapon while on duty. The appellate court did not reverse Pawelski's acquittal after holding that a person may not be tried twice for the same offense and that the purpose of the appeal was only to interpret the meaning of state gun permit laws.

Because regulations vary from state to state, security companies and security guards should thoroughly research the requirements in their states and apply for and obtain appropriate permits in order to carry a gun or weapon -- whether on or off duty -- in order to comply with the law and avoid criminal prosecution.