You’re carrying your firearm, just as you do every day, when you see the red and blues flashing behind you. What should you tell police and what should you keep to yourself during a routine traffic stop while armed? Criminal defense attorney and former Wisconsin prosecutor Tom Grieve discusses just that with USCCA’s director of content Kevin Michalowski.
Any good legal advice when it comes to concealed carry is going to start out with, “know your state laws.” The requirement to tell a law enforcement officer, often called duty to inform, is going to vary based on where you’re pulled over. Remember, where you are matters as well as where you’re licensed.
If you have a duty to inform in your state, do so politely and calmly. A good way to go about this would be to say, “I do have a license to carry a firearm, which is in my wallet in my back left pocket, and I am carrying today, in a holster on my right hip. What should I do?”
Some people will tell you it is best to always inform an officer that you’re carrying. Others will say the opposite and that you should never volunteer this information. Ultimately, it is a personal choice, provided you are compliant with the laws.
Some Extra Tips
Things not to do: lunge or rustle. Making what officers may call furtive movements can only lead to trouble. Maintain eye contact and keep your hands on the wheel, where officers can see them.
If you’re going to be reaching for your insurance or ID, let the officer know. As a law enforcement officer, Michalowski adds that he will ask for what he needs when he needs it. And Grieve notes that if you’re glove box carrying (as a supplement to what’s on your hip as that is not the best place for your firearm), you will have to let the officer know before opening your glove box.
One thing you should know, upon finding that you have a firearm, law enforcement officers may have the right to take that firearm and search the serial number to confirm it is not a stolen gun.
Officers are trained to watch for movements that may imply someone is reaching for a gun. As Michalowski sums it up, “Don’t reach for your gun, and I won’t reach for mine.”
Learn all of this and more in a USCCA Concealed Carry Class