Editor’s Note: This is the eighth entry in our 12-part Armed & Ready series from Richard Nance and Handguns magazine. The series covers a range of personal defense and CCW topics. See links below for the other entries:
- CCW Mistake That’ll Get You Killed
- Do You Carry Enough Gun?
- Carry Guns in Gun-Free Zones
- Bad Breath-Distance Gunfighting
- When You Can’t Pull the Trigger
- Don’t Aim In A Gunfight
- Why Does the 2nd Amendment Matter?
- Hammer vs. Striker: Which Do You Need?
- Don’t Fight Blind
- Family Held Hostage: Do You Shoot?
- Why You Need an AR for Home Defense
One extremely important but rarely discussed subject is what to do if you are pulled over by the police when you have a concealed carry firearm on you or in your car. This is a situation that could potentially be dangerous if you do not handle it properly. But what should you do?
First and foremost, be polite and cooperative. Do everything you can to set the officer at ease. He does not know if you are a threat, so setting the right tone from the start is just good sense. Along those lines, be sure to keep your hands in view of the officer — preferably on the steering wheel.
Some states require you to tell the officer you have a concealed weapon, while others do not. While it is dependent upon the laws of your state and your choice if not required, I usually advise people to go ahead and tell the officer.
The officer may ask you where the gun is located, whether on your person or somewhere in the car. If so, inform him clearly and concisely — but do not reach for it or point to it. Keep your hands still and visible.
If the officer asks you to reach for something, such as your license or registration, tell him what you are reaching for, where it is, and where you are moving your hands. Be slow and steady — no furtive or quick movements.
One possible situation many don’t consider is that you might be pulled over when you have not done anything wrong, but simply because your vehicles matches the description of one used in a crime.
In a case like this, the officer will be at a heightened state of readiness as the occupants of the car he is approaching could be armed and dangerous. As above, be cooperative and calm. If you are asked to exit your vehicle, as you do this follow their direction and inform the officer you have a CCW and if you have the weapon on you. Keep your hands visible and follow all of their directions.
Obviously, this could be a very dangerous moment due to the situation, so everything you can do to show your compliance will help ensure that everything goes smoothly.
While the situations might differ from one another, the basic rules to follow when pulled over by a police officer are pretty consistent — be polite, be compliant, and make sure that you do not take any actions that might escalate the situation. The officer wants to get home safely just like you do, so follow these rules to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible.