Can the security staff (equivalent to the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service) of the various Embassies/Missions/Consulates/etc located in New York City carry (concealed) firearms as part of their official duties providing security for their diplomatic staff while not on embassy grounds? Have these rules changed any since the 1960's?
In Germany, diplomatic/consular security staff will be issued a gun ownership card and a gun license, which the Embassy or Consulate will apply for directly at the Foreign Office (State Department) or local authority where the Consulate is based.
This is based on the relevant articles of both Conventions requiring that the laws and regulations of the receiving State be respected.
Article 41 (Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations)
Article 55 (Vienna Convention on Consular Relations)
(same text in both conventions)
- Without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State. They also have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.
The US Diplomatic and Consular Immunity: Guidance for Law Enforcement and Judicial Authorities, from August 2018, (which can be downloaded here: Information for Law Enforcement - United States Department of State) does not meantion weapons, but the Local Law Enforcement and Foreign Mission Personnel does:
- Permission to possess firearms must be obtained from the local state jurisdiction where the owner resides or proposes to carry such a weapon and is valid only consistent with the rules of the issuing jurisdiction.
- The DOS cannot intervene in the application/ determination process of any firearms application. Also, the DOS cannot intervene if a local jurisdiction denies a firearms permit to foreign mission personnel.
- The DOS considers the failure to adhere to local firearms regulations to be a serious matter and reminds all persons enjoying immunity that the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR), Article 41, and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), Article 55, mandate that persons enjoying immunity are to “respect the laws and regulations of the receiving state.”
The Department of State (DOS) obviously expects that the local firearms regulations be respected and will not intervene should the local authority deny a firearms permit to foreign mission personnel.
Therefore if they have the required permits, issued by the responsible authorities, they may carry (concealed) firearms as part of their official duties providing security for their diplomatic staff while not on embassy grounds.
On the treatment of diplomats and other privileged persons in the Federal Republic of Germany - Federal Foreign Office
This circular explains the legal status of diplomats and other privileged persons in Germany. The explanations are intended to facilitate the implementation of the relevant regulations and to ensure that this group of people is treated appropriately by German authorities and courts.
Grundlagen der Privilegierung bevorrechtigter Personen und Institutionen
- (PDF page 8)
Mitglieder diplomatischer Missionen und konsularischer Vertretungen sowie Bedienstete, Vertreter der Mitgliedsstaaten und Sachverständige bei Internationalen Organisationen sowie Mitglieder weiterer bevorrechtigter Personengruppen genießen bei ihrem (dienstlichen) Aufenthalt in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland bestimmte Vorrechte und Befreiungen. Die Grundlagen für diese Privilegien finden sich in den allgemeinen Regeln des Völkerrechts, die nach dem Grundgesetz Bestandteil des Bundesrechtes sind, und in besonderen völkerrechtlichen Vereinbarungen, wie z. B. dem Wiener Übereinkommen über diplomatische Beziehungen [WÜD], dem Wiener Übereinkommen über konsularische Beziehungen oder besonderen bilateralen Vereinbarungen [WÜK]. Alle Personen, die Vorrechte und Befreiungen genießen, sind unbeschadet dieser Privilegierungen verpflichtet, die in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland geltenden Gesetze und anderen Rechtsvorschriften zu beachten und sich nicht in innere Angelegenheiten der Bundesrepublik Deutschland einzumischen (so z. B. normiert in Art. 41 Abs. 1 WÜD und Art. 55 Abs. 1 WÜK).
Basics of privileged persons and institutions
Members of diplomatic missions and consular representations as well as employees, representatives of the member states and experts at international organizations as well as members of other privileged groups of people enjoy certain privileges and exemptions during their (official) stay in the Federal Republic of Germany. The basis for these privileges can be found in the general rules of international law, which according to the Basic Law are part of federal law, and in special international agreements, such as the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations [VCDR], the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations [VCCR] or special bilateral agreements. Irrespective of these privileges, all persons who enjoy privileges and exemptions are obliged to observe the laws and other legal provisions applicable in the Federal Republic of Germany and not to interfere in the internal affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany (as stipulated, for example, in Art. 41 Para. 1 VCDR and Art. 55 para. 1 VCCR).
Waffengesetz (WaffG) vom 11. Oktober 2002 [Weapons Act]
- (PDF page 40)
Nach § 48 Absatz 2 Nummer 1 i. V. m. § 10 Absatz 1, 4 und 5 WaffG bzw. § 56 WaffG können zum Erwerb und Besitz von Schusswaffen und Munition sowie zum Führen von Schusswaffen an Diplomaten, Konsularbeamte und sonstige gleichgestellte bevorrechtigte ausländische Personen, Staatsgäste sowie Personen, die zum Schutz von Staatsgästen aus anderen Staaten in Deutschland eingesetzt sind, folgende Berechtigungen ausgestellt werden:
According to § 48 paragraph 2 number 1 i. In conjunction with § 10 paragraphs 1, 4 and 5 WaffG and § 56 WaffG, diplomats, consular officials and other equal privileged foreign persons, state guests and persons who are required to protect are used by state guests from other countries in Germany, the following authorizations are issued:
An Mitglieder diplomatischer Missionen und berufskonsularischer Vertretungen wird die Erlaubnis zum Erwerb und Besitz von Schusswaffen und Munition (durch Waffenbesitzkarte) sowie zu deren Führen (durch Waffenschein) gemäß § 10 Absatz 1, 3 und 4 WaffG auf besonderen Antrag durch das Bundesverwaltungsamt, 50728 Köln, erteilt (Diplomaten beantragen die Waffenbesitzkarte und den Waffenschein über das Auswärtige Amt in Berlin, Angehörige der Generalkonsulate legen ihre Anträge über die Senats- oder Staatskanzlei in dem Bundesland, in dem die konsularische Vertretung ihren Sitz hat, vor).
Members of diplomatic missions and career consular posts are granted permission to purchase and own firearms and ammunition (through a gun ownership card) and to carry them (through a gun license) in accordance with § 10 paragraphs 1, 3 and 4 WaffG upon special application by the Federal Office of Administration, 50728 Cologne, granted (diplomats apply for the gun ownership card and the gun license through the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, members of the Consulate General submit their applications through the Senate or State Chancellery in the federal state in which the consular representation is located).
A license is required, see NYC Administrative Code §10-301. This page describes the procedure: the license type is presumably a "carry guard license". You must also get a New York State pistol license. There are various training requirements. Title 38 of the Rules of the City of New York ch. 5 (handgun licenses) says what the police department rules are for licensing, §5-04 describes the Carry Guard License, which basically says you must show the need to be armed and that you have any required licenses. If you can do this, they may issue you a license. You cannot carry a concealed firearm off the job just because you are consular security staff.
Diplomatic and Consular Immunity: Guidance for Law Enforcement and Judicial Authorities explains the extent to which persons with diplomatic immunity are not subjects to the laws of the US:
Personal Inviolability vs. Public Safety Personal inviolability is enjoyed to some degree by a majority of foreign diplomatic and consular personnel. This inviolability generally precludes handcuffing, arrest, or detention in any form and forbids U.S. authorities from entering the residences, automobiles, or other property of protected persons. Personal inviolability is, however, qualified by the understanding, well established in international practice, that the host country does not give up its right to protect the safety and welfare of its populace and retains the right, in extraordinary circumstances, to prevent the commission of a crime. Thus, in circumstances where public safety is in imminent danger or it is apparent that a grave crime may otherwise be committed, police authorities may intervene to the extent necessary to halt such activity. This naturally includes the power of the police to defend themselves from personal harm.
So law enforcement can stop a shooting in progress, but they cannot arrest a person with immunity if they arrive at the scene of the shooting after the crime has taken place. If a person with immunity carries a holstered gun and presents credentials demonstrating immunity, they cannot be questioned any further unless they acquiesce to the questioning.
Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, April 24, 1963 21 U.S.T. 77 596 U.N.T.S. 261 Article 31:
"A diplomatic agent shall enjoy immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving State."123
End of story.
1 "He shall also enjoy immunity from its civil and administrative jurisdiction, except in [cases irrelevant herein]”
2 It became the "supreme [l]aw of the [l]and" under Article IV, section 2, of the U.S. Constitution after congress ratified it in 1973 without further action required on the part of any States.
3 No objections raised relating to the immunities provided by Article 31 by any of the high party signors, assentors, or ratifiers.