PTSD Retirement And Carrying Weapons

Written on 08/07/2021
Will Aitchison

A New Jersey detective identified in the Court’s opinion only as “A.A.” was employed by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office from 2003 to 2018. In May 2017, A.A. was involved in a shooting incident while serving a warrant. After two doctors diagnosed him with PTSD, A.A. filed an application for accidental disability retirement benefits.

Based on its review of A.A.’s medical records, the County’s Medical Review Board concluded that he was “totally and permanently disabled” with PTSD as a result of the May 2017 incident and was “unable to resume work as an investigator.” In December 2018, the Board of Trustees of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System reviewed and granted A.A.’s application for accidental disability retirement benefits.

In April 2019, A.A. filed a timely application under New Jersey law for approval to carry a handgun as a retired law enforcement officer. The State denied A.A.’s request because he was treated for a mental health condition and retired from the Prosecutor’s Office as a result of PTSD. The State also denied his application because it was “not in the interest of the public health, safety or welfare of the citizens of the State of New Jersey” to issue him a permit to carry a handgun.

An appeals court upheld the denial of A.A.’s request. The Court focused on a New Jersey statute that allows a retired law enforcement officer to carry a firearm so long as the officer “was a regularly employed, full-time law enforcement officer for an aggregate of four or more years prior to the officer’s disability retirement and further provided that the disability which constituted the basis for the officer’s retirement did not involve a certification that the officer was mentally incapacitated for the performance of the officer’s usual law enforcement duties .”

From the Court’s perspective, the plain language of the statute “precludes A.A. from obtaining a permit to carry a handgun. A.A. was not entitled to a permit because his disability, which constituted the basis for his retirement, involved a certification that he was mentally incapacitated for the performance of his usual law enforcement duties.

“A.A. contends that he qualifies under the federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) and, therefore, is entitled to a permit New Jersey law. We ordinarily do not consider issues that are raised for the first time on appeal. Even if we were to consider A.A.’s argument, however, it is wholly without merit. We recently held that the reference to LEOSA in the New Jersey statute is intended to accommodate retired law enforcement officers from out of state who have relocated to New Jersey. This is not such a case.”

In re A.A., 2021 WL 1590228 (N.J.A.D. 2021).

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