If you carry a concealed weapon there is always the chance of being stopped by the police while armed. I’ll provide two basic scenarios I hope will answer any questions you may have. A traffic stop is the most likely police encounter for the average person. Whether you are armed or not, the best thing to do is pull over to the side of the road, put your window down and keep both hands on the steering wheel. Some people feel like they need to have their driver’s license, registration and insurance ready in hand when the officer arrives at the window. Don’t worry about that stuff. Just pull over, put your window down, and keep both hands at the 12 O’clock position (top) of the steering wheel. The officer will tell you what documents he or she wants to see. Then you can retrieve the documents.
If they are in a place not clearly visible to the officer, tell him or her where they are. Do not reach towards the floor or into the backseat area. If the officer wants you to retrieve them from that area, he or she will tell you to do so. Officers can look up your information on the laptop computer in their vehicle. If the documents are in the trunk, do not open your door and try to exit the vehicle. Never, ever exit your vehicle on a traffic stop unless specifically told to do so by the officer. It may sound dumb, but people do it all the time. An officer stops a car, the driver gets nervous because her license is in her purse in the trunk. The driver gets her car stopped, opens her door, gets out and starts walking to the rear of her car to open the trunk to get her driver’s license and then can’t understand why she’s looking into the business end of the officer’s handgun. It’s really very simple. Pull over, put down your window, keep both hands visible on top of the steering wheel. Wait for the officer to tell you what he or she wants to see.
Depending on your state, you may be required to tell the officer you are armed. If so, or just out of courtesy, tell the officer you are armed and where your gun is located. Do not reach towards it, just tell him or her where it is. Additionally, depending on where you are in the country can determine how Officers feel and respond towards armed citizens. Personally I am not afraid of people who have jumped through all the hoops of getting a concealed weapons permit. Why should I be afraid of that person when they’re armed. I recently saw a video where a “gun friendly” Officer said if he knows a person is a CCW permit holder, and armed, he will call for backup and not go back to his vehicle on a traffic stop because he doesn’t want to lose sight of the person’s hands and their gun. A few moments later he says the same thing I just said, that he’s not worried about the people who have carry permits… but obviously he is because he feels he needs to stand at their window and keep his eyes on them and can’t let them out of his sight. I’m not that way at all. First of all, in my State permit holders are not required to tell me they are armed. When I go up to the car, I don’t know if they have a permit or not. Many people will tell me they have a permit and if they have their gun or not. I don’t feel like I need to keep that person under continual observation and can’t return to my car to look up their information. That makes no sense to me, but in many parts of the country you could run into a more heavy-handed police interaction when they find out you’re armed. Sorry… move West!
The second scenario happens anywhere outside. An officer may walk up and ask to speak with you or you may suddenly be confronted by an officer shouting commands at you. Either way, you’re the focus of a police officer’s attention and you instantly remember you’re carrying your weapon. Again, it’s a very simple process. DO WHAT THE OFFICER TELLS YOU TO DO.
Let’s play what if… You’re out and about doing your normal thing and a police officer approaches and asks to speak to you. You remember you’re carrying your gun and get a little nervous. You ask him what it’s about and he explains that an assault just occurred and wonders if you saw or heard anything. You tell him you didn’t see or hear anything. He thanks you for your time and walks away. It was a simple conversation and there was no reason to mention your concealed weapon.
Building upon the same scenario, you tell the officer that you didn’t see or hear anything, and he asks to see your identification. I’m not delving into whether there is reasonable suspicion for him to ask for your identification. It’s just a simple request but in reaching towards your wallet you know you’ll also be reaching towards your weapon the officer is unaware you have. At this point, the best option is to tell the officer you are armed and specifically where your weapon is at. Keep your hands plainly visible and don’t move them. Additionally, tell the officer where your ID is located and ask if he still wants you to retrieve it. Just follow his instructions from this point on.
If you encounter police while armed, communicate with them. Tell the officer you’re armed. Do not reach towards your weapon or attempt to remove it. Officers will never ask you to handle your weapon and remove it yourself. Unless they are detaining you, they should not remove your weapon either. If they are detaining you, just comply and allow them to take you into custody and remove your weapon. Even if you disagree and know beyond a shadow of a doubt, they’re making a mistake, just comply and do what they tell you to do. You can work out your lawsuit later!