Police Encounters While Carrying

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A lot of instructors, particularly those with a law enforcement background, will often tell you to extend officers the courtesy of telling them you’re armed if you ever get pulled over in a traffic stop. The advice typically includes offering your concealed carry license up along with your driver’s license. I think this is bad advice, because I read too many articles that sound like this one to believe it’s a good idea:



As he was getting his driver’s license out, the officer noticed Oliva’s concealed-carry license in his wallet.

“He asked me if I had a concealed weapon in the car — he stopped abruptly,” Oliva said. “I got a really bad vibe about how he was handling this. Before I could get my concealed-carry license out, he ordered me to put my hands on the dash and lean forward.”

The officer demanded to know where Oliva was carrying the pistol. He told him it was in a belly band on his right side. The officer reached in, under his shirt and seized the weapon.

Read the whole thing. It gets uglier from there. Never, ever keep your concealed carry license anywhere near your driver’s license. I keep mine hidden behind another card so it cannot be seen. This was begging for a negligent discharge. If officer friendly isn’t very good about keeping his booger hook off the bang switch, who do you think that errant round is going to severely injure or kill?

There’s never any good reason, other than being required to by law in some states, to disclose to an officer that you’re carrying. You never know whether you’ve been pulled over by an officer who’s going to handle everything professionally, or an officer who handles things in a dangerous and unprofessional manner like this one.

29 thoughts on “Police Encounters While Carrying”

  1. Some States have laws requiring such notification on presentation of ID.

    However, I think we can assume that the Police in such a State have had at least a few minutes of training on how to handle that situation.

    1. If I have a legal duty to notify, I will. Otherwise I keep my mouth shut and my hands in the open. Here in AL I’m required to provide an officer with ID, and if I’m driving registration and insurance and that’s it, so they get nothing else…

  2. Both MI and OH have “duty to disclose” in their CCW laws, and it is mandated to be “immediate” upon “official” interaction with a LEO. “Official” is defined as when you must present I.D., not when you’re simply exchanging pleasantries at the coffee shop.

    Since getting my CPL back in 2000, I’ve been stopped only once. Informed the Sheriff’s Deputy that “I have a permit and I am carrying a pistol”, he replied, “OK, leave it where it is and we’ll get along just fine”. Others have reported being asked, “what kind of pistol are you carrying?”, with “Good choice” after being informed. I believe that in both states, the officer can take possession of your pistol for the duration of the stop if he wishes.

    It’s surprising to me that these sort of encounters happen at all, they indicate lack of training and experience on the Officers’ parts. After all, any holder of a CPL has undergone a criminal background check and is a certified Good Guy.

  3. Already mentioned above that some states require it. I have so many NRA stickers and gun related things on my rear window, NRA hats hanging from the visor, I find it’s the first question I get asked. do you have any weapons in your truck? Even before, “license and registration please”! I answer always with ” There is nothing illegal in this truck officer.

    But in Pa I have been through an entire stop, and never told the LEO.

    But I always have my hands hanging in plain sight over the steering wheel. Then I ask permission to go to my wallet. I intend to live a while.

  4. In our state they tie your CCW to your drivers license So as soon as they run your DL they are informed you have a CCW even if it expired years ago.

  5. A similar situation happened to two of my friends back around 2000, here in Pennsylvania. My friend was pulled over for speeding, and since he was carrying he informed the state trooper. Given that my friend was driving a car that belonged in a poor man’s Fast and Furious, the trooper probably thought he had a sure bust on his hands. The trooper responded by taking the weapon and calling for a backup, who arrived and stood on the passenger side, gun drawn and aimed down at the ground. Eventually, since my friends were law abiding and had done nothing wrong, the cops gave up and returned the gun in a bag, completely disassembled, with the ammunition in a different bag. I talked with the guys afterward, they seemed fairly shaken up by it.

    It wouldn’t surprise me that some cops who disagree with concealed carrying treat act badly in otherwise normal stops.

  6. My wife, Colleen, has had 3 or 4 interactions with LEOs and always notifies immediately. IL only requires such if the officer inquires. All of the Chicago cops have expressed gratitude and none have even asked to see the firearm much less take control of it.

    Of course, there’s always the a-holes as the cop in this story is.

  7. It is interesting that the arguments both for and against informing a cop that you are armed, are based on assumptions of the incompetence of the cop. With a dash of corruption and malice thrown in for good measure.

    1. That is because police culture is that all subjects are potentially lying dirtbag criminals who want to kill the officer- Everyone that the cop comes in contact with is assumed to be a candidate for arrest. It is a very “us versus them” mentality.
      If you read the article, even the police chief seems to believe that. I quote him:
      “The other side of the coin is, if he leaves him in the car with a gun, is that ultimately optimum safety for the police officer? I believe the officer-survival skill is that he asks for the gun. The card is reasonable suspicion that a person inside the car may be armed, at which point the officer stays alive by the way he handled it. “

      1. It doesn’t matter what sort of theatrics police go thru to get them home at night….the one that gets em is the one they least expect. Thats a fac…jac.

  8. I have had one encounter with Lancaster City police involving carrying. It was a run of the mill speeding ticket, and they did ask if I had a weapon on me after asking about my LTCF.. I can only guess they saw my LTCF when I pulled out my ID.

    From then on, however, it went remarkably well. There were two cops (seemingly standard these days). He did not ask for me to remove the pistol at any time, only to keep hands visibly on the wheel. He verified my LTCF, handed it back to me, and we chatted about pistols for a while, remarking that he liked springfield pistols. I was carrying my XD-S. That was it. No “officer safety” crap or anything of the like.

    I always feel very sorry for both LEO and civilian when I read about this stuff happening. NRA has always been supportive of police, as am I. When peace officer beetles over into “warrior cop” mentality, we venture into meurky waters. I don’t expect it to get much better soon, though my encounter with LCPD was heartening. There are good “gun guy” cops who do deserve our respect.

    FWIW I do fall on the side of “don’t inform unless asked directly” regarding firearms in the vehicle or person.

  9. HW6 says:
    FWIW I do fall on the side of “don’t inform unless asked directly” regarding firearms in the vehicle or person.

    You’d better know the laws in the jurisdiction where you’re carrying. As I and others have said,some places mandate that you disclose, and I know in MI it is considered pretty important that you disclose immediately. When I was stopped, the officer said the usual, “I need to see your license and registration”, and my reply was, “And I need to disclose that I have a CPL and am carrying a pistol”.

    As in most places, the officer knows that the vehicle’s registered owner has a CPL w/o asking or being told. Our instructors always advise us to disclose that we have a CPL and we’re NOT carrying if we’re presently unarmed. That removes any question in the officer’s mind, even though we’re not required to say anything if we’re not carrying.

    1. I haven’t traveled to too many states that even allow CC since I got my PA LTCF, so I haven’t had to worry much about it. But yes, it goes without saying that you should know your local laws when traveling.

  10. Don’t have a choice here in OK, but I will say during the 10+ years I’ve had my card I have never gotten much more than a yawn from an OHP trooper. Once during a New Year’s Eve DUI checkpoint (don’t get me started) the deputy Sheriff actually thanked me for carrying.

  11. Also, from reading the article, I don’t see how the disarm/search adhered to the Terry Stop standard. The chief says his officer had “reasonable suspicion” that the driver was armed. So? Reasonable suspicion means you are pretty sure a CRIME was being committed. If you see a CHL/CCW card, how does it follow you think there’s a crime? Armed in Florida was a normal thing, or so I’ve heard.

    Seems to me the problem is the police chief of that town and his utter disregard for the rights of the citizens.

  12. I think the requirement to disclose is pretty stupid, much like asking people about to board a plane “Are you carrying weapons, illegal drugs, or a bomb?” Sure, a terrorist *might* say “Yes”, but really, what do you expect them to say?

    Similarly, if the person is carrying legally and is peaceable, they are going to answer “Yes” and potentially be treated harshly for that.

    If the person is carrying illegally and is peaceable, they are going to answer “No”, but they aren’t going to do anything to hurt the police officer.

    If the person desires to cause harm…well, pretty much anything can happen, from doing nothing to shooting at the police even before stopping to be pulled over.

    If someone does not intend to do harm, it doesn’t matter what is said one way or the other to the police officer…yet we expect people who intend to do harm to say, “Why yes, honorable police officer, I am carrying a gun. You killed my father, prepare to die! Just give me a few moments to get my gun out of my holster, though, because it’s getting stuck in my coat pocket, and I don’t want an accidental discharge pulling it out…”

    It is far more important for police to be watching the actions of the individual, and where their hands are, than to trust the claims (one way or the other) that the driver might be armed…

  13. While I don’t support duty to disclose laws, one apparent advantage, from the comments and in my experience living in a duty to disclose state is it makes being legally armed a routine “check the box” part of a stop. Cops get educated that they will be dealing with armed people and don’t have to improvise a response. The FTO’s can teach new guys to treat it as a matter of course, snd “known carrier = polite good guy” instead of nervous nellies going to their “OMG gun establish dominance!” default and the “Only Ones” are forced to acknowledge there are more legal carriers than cops.

  14. Like Jay, as an Okie, I’m bound by the duty to disclose. The most positive reaction has been enthusiasm from the officer, and the most negative has been them asking me to dump my pistol in the driver’s seat and join them in the patrol car. Everything in between includes having the officer tell me angrily that he doesn’t care, and throw my gun permit back at me. LOL! The way I look at it, if I tell the officer the facts on contact, he knows that I’m honest and have the best intentions for the contact. If the officer discovers my gun on his own, that puts a whole lot of questions in his mind that I frankly don’t want to be there.

    1. In Alaska the reaction is usually “meh” now. The first couple years the cops were still getting used to it and would sometimes disarm people, but that seems to have passed. I did have one officer I was talking to after an accident ask what I was carrying and where, when I told him his response was, “well you’re doing it right, I can’t see a thing.”

  15. I keep mine in an inside pocket of my wallet, behind the cards that you can see. WI does not require me to announce, therefore I don’t.

  16. Got to disagree with you here. I would be afraid of,

    * Cop #1 asks for license registration
    * Cop #2 (probably less experienced) moves on other side of vehicle inspecting inside of car.
    * You reach to your right hip to get wallet and accidentally reveal firearm to cop #2.

  17. cameras just aren’t a good idea to prevent LE from being unfairly accused, it’s a good idea to have a camera rolling for cop encounters too. If they go south for you, the videos tend to get erased, disappear, were never on, etc. But your video can live on. Will it help you win a court case? Almost certainly not. But what it will do is graphically display an abusive cop to legislators who might otherwise be in bed with the professional LE lobby. Nothing says “NO” to a special privileges for law enforcement bill like a badly behaving cop caught on video tape. The more profanity, the better.

    The really bad thing about this is that most gun owners just drop it. as a community, we need to start standing up to the bullies. I’m not saying there isn’t an element of officer safety, but the above example clearly has guns unnecessarily pointed at the motorist, and that’s a crime.

    If it’s not a crime, you can do it to a cop and you won’t get arrested. ;-)

    NRA-ILA was guns blazing to pass the LEOSA, so where are all the “pro-gun cops” and their organizations to help us get national reciprocity? Nowhere huh? The thing is, some of these reports and videos were out there when ILA was pushing carry for cops but nobody else, and a few of the grassroots groups were pointing out these bad actors to ILA but they steadfastly said this wasn’t a problem.

    I count 4 cops among my circle of friends, and another retired cop is a best friend. He has seen it from both sides of the fence and it has been surprising to him the number of times that his brothers have … disappointed him with their treatment of a gun owner and he is none too shy about pointing it out.

    IMO if we want this mentality to change and this conduct to go away, as a constituency, we need to back up other gun owners when this happens. Let chiefs and sheriffs know in no uncertain terms this isn’t acceptable, no “officer safety” excuses allow you to point a gun at a motorist who is not a felon, period. Gun rights groups need to divorce the law enforcement lobby, or maybe at least have a separation. We can still be friends.

  18. Yep I never disclose and would never unless I was going to be searched.

    And if a cop unloaded and disassembled my gun I’d reassemble and reload it right there.

    And I would have a camera running.

  19. Have your driver’s license and registration ready when the officer approaches your car and keep your hands where he/she can see them. Don’t volunteer any additional information, but do answer all questions factually and courteously.
    I keep my concealed carry permit in a separate badge wallet that has the logo of the Department of Corrections I used to work for, along with my Retired Corrections Officer badge and retirement ID. So far, I’ve had no problems.

  20. The advice typically includes offering your concealed carry license up along with your driver’s license. I think this is bad advice

    Which would you rather have?
    A. Cop is told first thing you are armed and reacts how they are going to.
    B. Cop finds out some other way that you’re armed, thinks you were trying to hide that fact, and reacts the way they are going to.

    I’ll take ‘A’ any day of the week.
    I have no duty to inform in my state unless asked but I do anyway.
    My license, registration and insurance gets handed over WITH my CCW permit before it’s even asked for. I keep my hands visible at all times. Once safely stopped, tinted windows are rolled down, turn dome light on at night, etc.
    If I encounter a jerk, I would rather know that up front and have the situation approached from the viewpoint of me not trying to hide anything.

    1. Or how about this:

      A. Cop never knows you have a gun, and you go on with your drive.
      B. Cop is told first thing that you have a gun, freaks out.

      B is what happened in the article, so I’ll take A any day, and if they are going to freak out, then so be it.

  21. People who say they’ll have a camera running had better have an app that streams it to the cloud right then; otherwise, your video won’t be there once the cops get the phone.

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