When I teach classes I often get questions on how to properly handle getting pulled over by the police while carrying a concealed weapon or having a firearm in your vehicle. In modern times we seem to be seeing many tragedies in situations as such. Lets discuss both the law and how we recommend handling these situations.
As most of you know, laws vary from state to state. Some states require you to disclose to the officer if you have a firearm in the vehicle immediately upon getting pulled over. Some states do not. Regardless, in every state if an officer asks if you have any weapons in the car, you are required to answer the question honestly. Honesty will also keep the situation less formal and may earn you some good grace with the officer.
Now, where an issue often lies is when somebody reaches toward their glove box in front of a police officer. I know many people keep vehicle insurance and registration in their glove box. However, many people also keep a firearm in their glove box. Therefore, when a police officer asks you for vehicle registration or insurance it is often natural to want to take it out of the glove box. The problem is that once that glove box is open and your hand is reaching towards it, that officer may very well be thinking you are reaching for the firearm to try and shoot him. You have to remember traffic stops are the most dangerous part of their job and they need to take their own precautions. That is why you never want to reach towards somewhere a firearm might be without first getting the approval of the officer.
Now remember every officer is different and every situation is different. That officer may be having a bad day or maybe it is his first real day on the job. We don’t know what is going on in his mind or in his life. Therefore, let’s discuss what we recommend doing if you get pulled over while carrying a concealed weapon regardless of the officer or even of what state you are in.
Step 1. Open the window all the way and keep your hands on the wheel.
Step 2. Inform the officer that you have firearms in the car and a valid concealed weapons permit (Do NOT reach for your firearms)
Step 3. Ask the officer if you may reach for your wallet to locate and show him your concealed carry permit.
Step 4. Tell the officer where in the car your firearms are located and ask how he would like you to proceed. (Be sure to let him know if your firearms are in the same spot as your registration and insurance, such as the glove box)
Step 5. Follow the officer’s directions (but remember to keep your hands on the wheel unless directed otherwise).
If you remember to follow these 5 steps, it should make every traffic stop simpler, easier, and safer for you, any fellow passengers and the officer.