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How to handle a traffic stop while armed

Second Call Defense Attorney Sean Maloney discusses some of his legal advice for traveling this holiday season.

Handling a traffic stop … during the Thanksgiving Holiday

If you are pulled over while carrying a concealed handgun, you should remember the following:

  • Pull over off the road as far as you can to protect the officer. They will notice and appreciate the concern for their safety.
  • Before the officer approaches, roll down your window (both windows if possible, you never know what side of the motor vehicle the Officer or Officers will approach) and place your hands in plain view on the steering wheel. If it is dark out turn your inside dome light on.
  • Do not search your car for your license insurance or registration. Do you know what that looks like from the rear window of your motor vehicle? Your head disappearing below the seat or dash, reaching into glove compartment, cannot tell the difference between retrieving your registration, hiding something, or grabbing something from the front seat of the Police Car.
  • If you are required to promptly inform, the first thing out of my mouth interrupting Law Enforcement. “I am a concealed carry permit holder and I have it with me.”
  • Even though the duty to notify is different in many States I promptly inform every officer, in every State.
  • Calmly tell the officer that you have a license to carry a concealed firearm and that you have “it” with you.
  • Ask if the officer has instructions concerning the firearm. (I have a license to Carry, and I have it with me, on my right hip. That’s preferable than saying “I have a gun”) You may not see his partner on the passenger side and all he hears is gun!
  • Do not touch or attempt to touch your handgun unless specifically told to by the officer. In Ohio and some other States and jurisdictions it’s a felony to have contact with your firearm once Police contact has been initiated. Know the laws in the States you travel in. www.handgunlaw.us
  • Do not exit your vehicle unless specifically told to by the officer. If you are asked to exit usually something has gone wrong.
  • Comply with all lawful orders given by the officer. If you are required to tell Law Enforcement you are armed, tell them you are not because they are going to ask if tied to registration or driver’s license.
  • In States where if a person is stopped for a law enforcement purpose and is carrying a concealed handgun as a CCW licensee, whether in a motor vehicle or not, he shall inform the law enforcement officer.
  • In some States if there are 4 concealed carry holders in your car during a traffic stop, all concealed carry holders must inform, every officer they meet. Know the laws in the States you travel in. www.handgunlaw.us
  • For example, you are required to promptly disclose you have a firearm during any meaningful contact with LE. You’re in a fender bender, and four different LE Officers arrive from two different agencies. What do you do? You are required to inform each one you have meaningful contact with but are not required to chase them down.
  • What is meaningful contact? More than just hello. In Ohio If a person is stopped for a law enforcement purpose and is carrying a concealed handgun as a CCW licensee, whether in a motor vehicle or not, he shall promptly inform the law enforcement officer that he is carrying a concealed handgun. If in a vehicle, the licensee shall always remain in the vehicle and keep his hands in plain sight.
  • In some jurisdictions, Law Enforcement can ask for and keep your firearm during the duration of the stop.
  • If Law Enforcement wants your firearm and it is holstered on your body or in your glove compartment ask “how are we going to do this’” for safety.
  • Un holstering and re-holstering in a car is a dangerous task. Muzzle the Law Enforcement Officer; yourself; trying to un-holster while sitting is difficult and can be dangerous.
  • Officer I don’t feel it is safe to unholster while seated and then handing my firearm to you, can I get out of the car and then safely un-holster and transfer it to you?
  • Different states different duties. Promptly inform; upon being asked for identification in; only if asked; no duty.

Note: Be aware that when transporting any firearm in a vehicle that some states have laws concerning a firearm being accessible to unauthorized persons. This could be someone underage or someone who by state or federal law is not allowed to possess firearms. Keeping it in the glove box with an unauthorized person in the passenger seat or in the center console with an unauthorized person in the back seat who can access it may be against the law in some states. Always store a firearm in a vehicle so it is not accessible to any unauthorized persons. Know the laws in the States you travel in. www.handgunlaw.us

Happy Thanksgiving, be safe!

Thanksgiving Second Call Defense