Currently, I’m working on a publication for the Self-Reliance Institute that will address the different types of interactions that citizens have with police officers.
While working on the publication this week, I came across an article that referenced a good video about concealed carry handguns and traffic stops that I’d viewed a few years ago.
As more Americans obtain a license to carry a concealed handgun, one of the more frequent interactions between citizens and police officers is a traffic stop where the citizen is lawfully carrying a concealed handgun.
Often, legally armed citizens are unsure whether they should advise the officer that approaches their car during a traffic stop that they are armed. Further, if they decide to advise the officer they are armed, they are unsure of the best way to do so.
Let me first address the question of whether you should advise the police that you are armed during a traffic stop or, for that matter, any other routine police interaction.
In my opinion, the answer is yes
During any traffic stop or other routine interaction with a police officer, you should advise the officer that you have a concealed carry license and that you are currently armed.
However, how you advise the officer is important.
The other day, TheFederalistPapers.org website posted an article that contains a good video on interacting with a police officer during a traffic stop when you are carrying a concealed handgun. It is the video that I’d first seen a few years ago.
The article, “Dos and Don’ts When Stopped by Police and Carrying a Firearm,” contains the video hosted by YouTube, “Tips When Stopped by Police and Carrying a Firearm.” The video features Lethal Force Institute’s Massad Ayoob and Guns & Ammo Host Tom Gresham.
As the article’s author notes, the video contains “blanket advice” and you should always know the laws and regulations concerning concealed carry for the state you reside or any state that you may be traveling through with a gun.
But, the video is good and I think it is worth watching if you have a concealed carry license.
I also think it’s worth watching if you don’t have a concealed carry license as it will show you that those who do have licenses – a larger and larger number every year – can do so in a responsible fashion.
As you watch the video, make note of Ayoob’s advice on not blurting out the word “gun.” I can’t stress enough how important that is for both your safety and the comfort level of the officer with who you are interacting. And, after all, a comfortable officer is far less likely to write you a ticket.
Now I realize that there are some folks who take the position that they are not obligated (or legally required in many states) to inform the officer that they have a concealed carry license and that they are armed.
I understand and respect that position.
But when I prepare these advisories for the Self-Reliance Institute, I always do so with the goal of providing you with the best information to keep you and your family safe and secure. For that reason, I believe the wisest course of action when you are lawfully armed and involved in a traffic stop is to advise the officer of that information. By so doing, you’re far less likely to find yourself involved with an officer who panics or overreacts if he discovers you’re armed.
But whatever you decide is the best course of action, it’s important that you think about how you will handle this situation before it arises. That way you won’t be nervous and you will have a plan for how to proceed when approached by the police.
Personally, as a private investigator, I often carried a concealed handgun while I was working and even when I wasn’t working. In almost every interaction I had with the police, I advised the officer that I had a concealed carry license.
Some officers would ask if I was armed and some didn’t. If they asked, I told them I was and where on my body the weapon was located. I never had an officer disarm me (as happens in the video), but I certainly understand that in certain circumstances an officer might want control of the weapon until the officer understands the circumstances of the interaction.
What are your thoughts?
Should lawfully armed citizens advise police officers that they are in possession of a concealed handgun during a traffic stop or other police interaction? Does your state have specific laws about notifying police officers when you are carrying a weapon? Have you been involved in a traffic stop while armed? How did you handle the situation?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic and the video I’ve provided. As always, you can write me at [email protected]
Be safe and secure,