What to do during a traffic stop.
Recently, there was a shooting during a traffic stop and a concealed carry permit holder. The full story can be found here. I wanted to take this opportunity to revisit some of the best practices when encountering law enforcement.
First, most firearms owners will rarely find themselves faced with a situation which requires using that firearms for self-defense. However, it is much more likely that if you carry your firearm on a regular basis, you will come into contact with a law enforcement officer during a minor incident, such as traffic stop or accident. But what do you do about your firearm when this happens?
Before I offer a little advice in making sure a minor encounter does not escalate unnecessarily, it is important to remember that every jurisdiction is different in terms of how they handle these encounters.
Remain calm. Being stopped for any reason can be both stressful and a cause for being nervous. The officer conducting the stop knows this and expects a certain amount of stress; what they do not expect is to see you sweating unnecessarily. Sit still and wait for the officer to approach 10 &n 2 piston on the steering wheel; if it’s nighttime, turn on the dome light so he/she can clearly see you as they do so. NEVER reach for anything, especially your firearm.
Inform the officer you have a firearm.
This is always a major point of debate but my advice is to tell them if:
1) Asked by the officer is there are any weapons in the vehicle. Just blurting out you have a firearm does not serve any purpose but to escalate the situation. If asked, be forthcoming.
2) If it will come into play (immediate possession) during the traffic stop. When the officer approaches keep your hands on the steering wheel and inform him/her about your firearm. Ask them how they would like to proceed and follow their directions. This will result in both you and the officer remaining safe.
Remember: The officer may request that the firearm is secured until the stop is over. (Terry v. Ohio) Cooperating with reasonable requests will ensure everyone remains safe. If you believe the officer was unreasonable, rude or overstepped his/her authority, follow up with a complaint to that officers command.