The police are nervous when they pull you over. They don’t know you. They don’t know what you will do. They have to deal with some of the most evil, violent, and completely unpredictable people on earth. They don’t want to die. So if you are legally carrying a concealed firearm when you are stopped by the police and you make any sudden or threatening move, you just might get shot.
So what should you do, as a law-abiding citizen with a concealed-carry weapon, when you are stopped by the police? Here are the official guidelines, according to the laws of my state (Ohio). They are probably the same for other states as well. I have followed these rules after getting pulled over, and everything turned out just fine (thank God).
1. Inform the police.
If you are stopped by the police, whether you are in your car, or on a motorcycle, or just walking down the street, IMMEDIATELY inform the police that you have a concealed-carry license, tell them if you actually have the concealed firearm on you (they’ll probably ask you where on your body), and keep your hands up and in plain sight at all times.
Make NO sudden moves. If you are in your car, do NOT get out of the car unless the police tell you to. You are considered a huge threat to them if you get out of the car. Stay right where you are.
2. Have your license ready.
If you are driving, and all of a sudden you see the lights flashing in your rearview mirror, pull over as quickly and as safely as you can. You will have a minute or two to retrieve your proof of insurance and vehicle registration from the glove compartment, and time to get your driver’s license and concealed-carry license. I ALWAYS carry my CCW (concealed-carry weapon) license in my wallet near my driver’s license.
When you are pulled over, put your CCW license on top of the driver’s license, and the registration/proof of insurance under it all, so the officer sees the CCW first. Then, put your hands out the driver’s side window so he can clearly see them. Do NOT wait until the police officer is at your window to get your licenses from a wallet or glove compartment. He may interpret that as going for a gun, and he will shoot you.
Next Page: What to do when the officer comes to the window.
3. Calmly ask for instructions.
While you are taking a minute to get your identification together, the officer is running your plates on his computer. In Ohio, the cop knows, even before he walks up to your car, if you are a CCW licensee or not.
However, you still have to obey the following rules: As the officer approaches, you tell him, “I have a CCW license, officer. It is right here in my hands, and I have my firearm on me. Do you have any instructions for me, sir?” The officer will approach cautiously, with a hand right on his gun.
He will ask you, “It’s on you right now?” “Yes sir.” “Where is it on you?” You should tell him exactly — WITHOUT moving your hands at all. You should keep them both stuck out the window, or you can keep both hands firmly on the steering wheel the whole time. It doesn’t matter — the law only says that they must clearly be in plain sight at all times. For good measure, you should ask again if he has any instructions for you.
4. Follow all lawful orders.
Now is not the time to argue with the officer. If he asks you to step out of the car, you do so carefully, with your hands in plain sight. If they confiscate your gun from you (and they may), in Ohio they must return it to you at the end of the stop “in the condition in which it was seized,” so long as you have done nothing illegal.
If you have an issue with anything the officer has done, take it up with an attorney. You are NOT going to win an argument with that police officer who has pulled you over. You want to go home that day. The officer does too.
Next Page: Follow the golden rule, like I did.
5. Treat the officer the way you want to be treated.
This is simple, and while perhaps not legally required, always a good thing to do. Even when a police officer pulls you over, treat that officer the way you would like to be treated.
Many times when I’ve been pulled over, after handing over my licenses and registration the cop has said, “Stay right where you are. We’ll get you going in just a second.” I don’t move. After a few minutes, he returns, gives me my warning or ticket (yes, I’ve been pulled over more than once), and lets me go on my way. I am always as polite as I can possibly be.
One time an officer came up and apologized to me — three times! — before he gave me my ticket! I said, “Why are you apologizing? Man, I was the one who went through the stop sign!” He said, “Because I hate to give a ticket to one of the ‘good guys.'”
“Huh? How do you know I’m one of the good guys? You don’t even know me!” He said, “You’re one of the good guys because you have one of these.” And he held up my CCW license. “You went through all that trouble and expense to get this thing. And you followed all the rules in the stop. I know you’re no threat to me.” Everything was fine after that. We then talked about guns and our families. But he still gave me the ticket. (Darn. But I did deserve the ticket.)
If you follow these simple rules, and obey whatever legal commands the officer gives you and talk to the police politely (just like you would want someone to talk to you), you should have no problem. Yes, of course there are tragedies out there where people accidentally make the wrong move or someone sees something that actually was not a threat. But those are truly exceptions to the rules.
Every day the police stop people who are legally carrying and you never hear about it, because the vast majority of people do what they were taught. And live to go home that day.