Protect those who protect the public

Dear Editor,

Law enforcement officers on all levels are facing ambushes, assaults, and murders by criminal elements in record numbers across the nation. As state corrections officers, we are part of that law enforcement community, especially in the eyes of the public. We wear uniforms almost identical to many police departments; and to most criminals, a correctional officer is “just another cop.” Not only are we grouped with most other law enforcement officers, we are most vulnerable when unarmed.

Across America, police and many corrections officers can carry their off-duty weapon to and from work. Those who work behind the walls in Pennsylvania are not afforded that protection. Unfortunately, we have to face a harsh truth that we are defenseless. There have been documented cases of former inmates/associates following officers from their place of employment and assaulting them.

PA DOC employees are citizens of the Commonwealth and should be permitted to exercise the rights afforded to them by the Second Amendment, as well as the Pennsylvania Constitution, Article I, Section 21. Employees who are otherwise licensed to carry a firearm as a citizen while off-duty should not have that right stripped simply because they are commuting to and from work.

In Congress, legislation is pending to allow federal prison officers the right to carry firearms to and from their work location by providing on-site storage and/or allowing secure vehicle-mounted storage. It’s time we afford that same protection to our state corrections officers.

Rich Fowler,

Shamokin, Pa.