How To Have Good CCW Interactions With Law Enforcement

How To Have Good CCW Interactions With Law Enforcement

These days, our news outlets are flooded with stories about citizen interactions with the police. Most of the ones that make it to print or on the television screen are detailing negative experiences with police officers. For any chance encounters, while we may be law-abiding citizens, it important for the police to know that we carry as a law-abiding citizen.

We all know carrying a concealed firearm in public doesn’t automatically make us criminals, but for a cop that is always on alert and prepared to deal with some of the most violent people on the earth, seeing a gun on a person will most likely make the cop more on guard. Depending on the officer and their experience, this instant shot of adrenaline at the sight of a firearm could potentially lead to some unpleasant interactions or incidents.

When you get pulled over for a traffic stop, it is best to always maintain courtesy and to stay level-headed. This applies to those who do not carry, but for us, it is even more important to keep our cool and work it so that our encounter with the police goes smoothly and without incident.

Here a few tips to help yourself have a good interaction with the police during a traffic stop:

Keep Your Gun Out of Sight

No police officer wants to approach your window and immediately see your gun sitting on the passenger seat. The last thing you want to do is get the cop already on edge with you before they even take a look at your driver’s license. Make it a habit to keep your gun concealed (if allowed by your state laws) and in a safe place in your vehicle.

Maintain Short and Civil Conversation

While it may not be against the law to get angry or even to curse at a police officer, it is still a foolish move. As it is stated when an officer reads a person’s Miranda rights: anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law. So keep your words short, simple, and civil. Picking a verbal or physical fight with an officer will most likely be a waste of time, and may end up with you in handcuffs. Know your rights and if you are courteous and mindful, your chances of having a painless police interaction will multiply very quickly.

Keep Your Hands Visible

After pulling your vehicle to the side, it is wise to turn off the engine, turn off the radio or any music, and to lay both hands on the steering wheel before the officer approaches you. Other than when the officer requests your driver’s license and registration, it is a good idea to still keep your hands on the steering wheel. This allows the officer to see that you are not reaching for anything incriminating or for any weapon. If you need to reach for anything with your hands, tell the police beforehand so that they know where your hands are going and what you are doing. Do NOT touch a police officer, even jokingly or in a harmless way – the officer can interpret it very differently.

Know Your Rights, Especially Your CCW Rights

Have you noticed that many cops these days are quite young and less experienced compared to previous generations? This is not to say that these officers are incapable of fulfilling their public duty, but with inexperience there can be misinformation, including when it comes to CCW laws. As a carrier, it is your job to know what the law is in your state and county, not only as a personal responsibility, but also for protection. If a young rookie is unaware of the local CCW laws and you have a gun on you without any legislative backup to share, then you might find yourself in an uncomfortable situation with the police. This is not to say that you have to be bragging your CCW rights when the cop does not inquire or provoke you. It’s just following the good old saying: “knowledge is power”.

Transparency: Do or Don’t?

Finally, there’s the big question on whether or not to inform the police officer during a traffic stop on whether you have a concealed weapon on you. Many carriers will insist that you make absolutely no mention of it. Others will say it is a big help to let the police know beforehand. The best thing I ever heard is to only bring it up if the situation calls for it.

The best thing to do is hand over your concealed carry permit with your driver’s license.  It lets the officer know that you are a concealed carrier.  Some states actually require you to inform the police officer before he asks.  Alaska, Arizona, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and a few others.  Know if you’re in one of those states and know where your CCW permit has reciprocity.  Texas requires that you hand over your concealed carry permit once the officer asks for identification.  Georgia is (strangely) the only state that has absolutely no requirement.  In general, most states would recommend you inform the officer at the first available moment but only a few actually require it.  Nevertheless, if you have your concealed carry firearm on you – have your permit ready.

And along with all of these tips, always just try to be calm, civil and cooperative. If you feel that your CCW rights were violated, always remember to take down the officer’s name and badge number, and then file a complaint with the precinct later. Always know your rights, maintain common sense, and show that you are an educated, responsible gun owner and carrier.

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  • Green Hornet

    unless required or asked to I believe in not saying anything
    people in general can go from no issue to calling the cops over the suggestion of carrying
    even a local gun store owner was not seeing the need to carry and when stating my reason to carry he became overly defensive, exit stage right! (go home find new gun store)
    Cops seem to be the same way, not always but the older and or x-military guys seem fine with it, some younger ones seem uptight when discussing
    Also depends on if you are in your home state or not and how you are perceived, I’m a contractor and carry a lot of test equipment and misc gear, I think they see me as the good guy (ok I hope they do)
    even so I tend to follow line 1

  • Jeffrey Morrissey

    From conversations I have had, it is always an advantage to tell the police you have a concealed carry permit as this puts you in a higher category of rectitude. CC permits are only given to non-felons and even certain types of non-felons are denied them. People have told me that they believe they actually did not get tickets because of this and usually because they have thought through what might occur when they have a gun and have studied how best to interact with the police, ie hands on the wheel, dome lights on etc. one story I heard that went poorly was telling the officer up front “I have a gun.” That could be taken as a threat. This person was arrested and had a lot of explaining to do later. Always say “I have a concealed carry permit.” Then if the officer asks you, say you have a gun and where it is and ask him if there is anything you can do to make him comfortable. When my friend told the cop that, he said. “That’s fine.” He got a warning for speeding or running the stop sign or whatever it was he did.

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  • Jay

    I have about 18 years as a LEO. When I get pulled over, it happens, I leave the engine I because it’s hot outside and you don’t know how long the stop will take. The cops don’t care especially if you put the car in park. I roll down all of my windows. Many SUV’s and trucks have dark tinted back windows so if you roll down all of the windows it tells the cop “hey I am not trying to ambush you and I want you to see that I am cooperating”. I then declare after the cops ask for my driver’s license, “Officer I have a concealed pistol in my waistband I just wanted you to know before I reach for my wallet” I then wait for his reaction with my hands still on the wheel. He will usually ask do you have a CHL and I will respond no I am an off duty officer. Then we proceed with the interaction. I have seen this work many times from the cops point of view. I usually ask what they are carrying and where. The answer to that question should be “I have a (insert the name of your badass weapon here) and its (wherever you carry it). The answer should not be you reaching for it in order to show it off. Never reach for it unless the officer ask you to. Seems self evident but trust me so many people when stressed about being pulled over do silly stuff not even thinking how the officer will perceive it. I then usually tell them “that’s cool how about you leave it there and I’ll leave mine in its holster deal?” I have yet to get anything other than compliance on that approach. I think the key thing to remember is that most officers have numerous contacts a day with people of unknown background and intentions. By rolling down all of your windows and being verbally compliant and polite you help them realize you are one of the good guys too. Also it wouldn’t hurt if you pulled over in a safe spot. I’m actually more worried about getting hit by another car than I am about getting shot.

    • Vagh

      Thanks for the tip about rolling down the rear windows. I was stopped once (in a truck no rear windows), rolled down the windows, kept hands on the steering wheel with my license and CC permit in hand. The officer asked me to hand over my firearm, took it and did a background check from his car. When he returned, he handed the firearm back, thanked me for notifying him in advance, and gave me a verbal warning on what should have been a speeding citation. The only other advice I’ve been told to do is to turn on the interior lights to make it easier for the LEO to see inside the vehicle.

  • Douglas Lunsford

    In my 25+ years of driving, I’ve been pulled over a time or two. Whether I’m carrying or not, I always make sure the officer can see my hands. Usually by hanging them out the car door. I’ve had my ccw permit for about 20 of those years. Whenever I have my carry piece on me, after the officer asks for my id and paperwork, I inform him that I do have my ccw, and that I have my weapon in the vehicle. Now I still have my hands out the window. I then ask the officer how they would like to precede, and let them know that I’m going to keep my hands out where they can see them until directed otherwise. From that point, I comply to their requests. This way, they feel safe, and makes things easier for both of us. Just about everytime, the officer gives me a break, and is thankful that I’ve kept their safety in mind. They’re just doing their job.

  • Tell the police about that bottle of Lortabs are that your friend loaned you that are in your suitcase while you are at it.
    I have tried case where a CCW holder whose handgun was not in plain site, was not in a place they were going to access.. 30 minutes later, they were still sitting by the side of the road after the police convinced them to do a consent search “for their own safety”. I am very pro police, but generally they don’t stop you because it is dangerous to drive 60 in a 50 zone. It starts a fishing expedition to see what real violations they can find and volunteering information in the first mistake you make.

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