September 24, 2010
Tips for CCW holders on dealing with police.
Being stopped for, say, a traffic violation? Depending on where you live, if you're a card-carrying CCW citizen you may have to tell the officer you're packing. It can be a tricky situation, one you want to handle correctly.
Over the past several years, the number of CCW holders among law abiding citizens including retired lawmen has grown to millions nationwide, and many states have reciprocity with other states that permits limited interstate concealed carry. With this fact and open carry laws, it is very likely that a local, municipal or state police officer will come in contact with a lawfully armed citizen. When this occurs, what do cops want or expect from these individuals?
Most officers I have spoken to want to know if a person in their presence is armed, regardless of whether they are sanctioned by the state or city of their residence. Their reactions to this information will obviously vary.
I was stopped by a state trooper for speeding one night after a long day of firearms instruction. I was under no obligation to inform him that I was armed, but when I did he jumped back a couple of feet. I kept my hands in plain view on top of the steering wheel and, remaining in my vehicle, we went from there. There was no further reference to the firearm, and he simply departed after he issued me my ticket.
Another deputy sheriff, whose state does not require such notification, advised he would thank the CCW holder for the courtesy, and if circumstances permitted might even ask to see the gun.
Forty-eight states issue concealed carry permits to private citizens; only Illinois and Wisconsin deprive their citizens of the right to carry. Of the 48 governments that allow citizens to carry concealed after specified conditions are met, only 10 (Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas) require armed CCW permit holders to advise law enforcement officers--officers who are acting in an official capacity--that they are CCW permit holders and that they are armed.
What discretionary actions the officer takes after being apprised of such a fact could range from temporary arrest and disarming to that of the appreciative deputy sheriff I mentioned above.
I could not determine what the penalties were for not volunteering that information if for some reason you were subsequently discovered to be armed.
In the presence of an officer where state law requires you to ID yourself as a CCW holder and if you are armed I suggest you do the following:
€¢ Wait until there is a lull in the situation, so the officer is not distracted from the task at hand.
€¢ Wait until the officer is facing you.
€¢ Make eye contact.
€¢ Keep your hands in plain view.
€¢ Inform the officer and offer to show him your credential.
€¢ Tell him where the credential is on your person.
€¢ With the officer's consent, retrieve your credential.
€¢ If the officer directs you to surrender your weapon and/or submit to temporary detention, protest but cooperate fully.
€¢ After the incident, determine if you have any legal remedies.