“What should I do if I’m pulled over by a police officer while I’m carrying my firearm?” This question frequently comes up in my gun classes, so much so that I’ve added a section in my PowerPoint to discuss how to handle the situation. Hopefully, you’re a cautious driver and won’t find yourself in this predicament, but if you do, here are some things you’ll want to remember.
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As a gun owner, you should be aware of the laws of your state, and even more so if you carry a firearm on your person or in your vehicle. You should know ahead of time, before you’re pulled over, if you have a “Duty to Inform” the officer that you’re carrying a firearm. In states that have a “Duty to Inform” law, it is required to inform the police officer, without being asked, that you are carrying a firearm.
In other states it is required that you inform the officer, only if asked, and in the remainder of the states there is no duty to inform. Know the laws of your state, and any that you might be traveling through. It’s a good idea to do your research and check your local gun laws as they change periodically.
Generally, I suggest that you inform the officer by showing your driver’s license and concealed carry permit/license up front, as a courtesy. For most officers, knowing that the driver has a concealed carry permit signifies a law-abiding citizen, has passed a thorough background check, and has taken some type of course that covers basic gun safety and skills.
As nervous as you might be when you see the flashing lights in your rearview mirror, it helps to remember that the officer likely has some anxiety as well when approaching your vehicle. They have no idea who you are, or what they’re about to encounter. The officer’s goal is to go home safely that night. Do everything possible to ease his/her mind by being polite and agreeable.
To make the situation easier for the officer, consider these steps:
Following these steps won’t necessarily get you out of a traffic ticket, but it will help the encounter go smoothly without making the situation worse.
While I’m not a law enforcement officer, I know many who are. As my friend, Deputy Aaron Roberts, said, “Your attitude will often determine how the traffic stop goes. If you’re polite and respectful, you’ll get the same treatment. However, if you’re a jerk … good luck!” Use common sense and show respect for the officer.
On the evening of Sept. 7, 2018, Greene County Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron Roberts lost his life in the line of duty. He loved serving his community and was respected by everyone who knew him. He is survived by his wife, Kim, and daughter, Lydia. The Sheriff’s Posse of Greene County has set up a GoFundMe page, if you’d like to donate to the Roberts family.
Thank you for your friendship, your service, and your sacrifice, my friend, you will be missed.