Concealed Carry + Traffic Stop

Concealed Carry + Traffic Stop

Carrying a weapon and communicating with law enforcement during a traffic stop can be a tense situation for both parties. In this post I would like to delve into what I believe is the proper etiquette for conducting yourself during a traffic stop while legally armed. It’s important to put law enforcement at ease and equally important to ensure your rights as an American citizen stay intact.

Growing up, being a young, stupid, 18-year-old. Behind the wheel of a fast car, with a heavy foot, and black windows. I’ve had my share of run ins with law enforcement. I’ve had my car searched, I’ve been searched, and I’ve had my licensed removed from my possession due to a racing on highway charge.

Fast forward 10 years and things have changed quite a bit, no more black windows but the heavy foot is still present and I still get a blue light special from the 5.0 from time to time. Difference is now I’m less stupid and usually heavily armed.

If you missed what I usually carry on my person from day-to-day here is a link.

A semi auto and a revolver are usually tucked into my waistband. Under the back seat of my truck I keep an armored plate carrier and a spare semi auto handgun accompanied by a handful of mags. It’s also very common for me to have a pistol caliber carbine tucked into a backpack in the seat behind me.

With all of these items present I’d be lying if I said my blood pressure didn’t rise a bit as local law enforcement begins to walk up to my window.

The key to this whole process is respect. Regardless if it’s being shown mutually or not. Respect is paramount.

There are a few things I do, and you should do as well to put the officer at ease as he makes his way to your driver side window.

Turn the radio OFF. Not down, not just loud enough to hear it, turn the radio completely OFF.

Roll your window all the way down. It’s also good to roll your rear driver side window down as well if your car has that ability.

If its dark turn ON your interior lights.

Don’t reach for your wallet, don’t reach into the glove box, don’t look for something that may have fallen under the seat.

Keep BOTH hands on the steering wheel as close to the top of the wheel as possible and WAIT. If you have passengers present inform them to keep both hands empty and visible as well.

Now it’s time for communication. My state (VA) does not require you to notify law enforcement that there is a weapon present in the car. While it is your right not to notify, When a traffic stop is conducted and your plates are ran, the officer performing the stop will know that the registered owner of the car has a concealed handgun permit.

Notifying law enforcement that there is a weapon (or in my case weapons) present puts them at ease. It shows respect for them, shows you are not a threat, and that you have nothing to hide.

Okay so the officer has made it to your window, he/she sees the windows down, the interior lights are on, your hands on the wheel, and there’s no music playing. Odds are you are already on their good side. He will go through his spiel license and registration you know the whole nine. Don’t interrupt, don’t answer questions that haven’t been asked yet. Wait for your turn to speak.

Now it’s your turn to talk.

Your wording at this point should be very well thought out. you don’t want to be the idiot that screams I GOT A GUN!

This is what I have said during every traffic stop.

Officer, Before I remove my hands from the steering wheel I would like to notify you that I am licensed to carry a concealed weapon in this state, my weapon is loaded on my right hip. my wallet is in my back right pocket. How would you like me to proceed?

Of course everyone carries slightly differently in different places, maybe off body, maybe small of the back, or ankle. Simply inform them of exactly where the weapon is and its condition, loaded / unloaded.

If I am carrying other weapons I will notify their presence as well, prior to informing the officer of where my wallet and ID are located.

You’ve been upfront with the officer, you have done you best to put him/her at ease, you have shown you are not a threat, and have nothing to hide. Now the ball is in their court.

Now it’s as simple as following instructions. I’ve had an officer tell me don’t show me yours I won’t show you mine. He was talking about his gun… I hope. I’ve had an officer ask for me to remain with my hands on the wheel and provide my social security number to run it through dispatch to confirm my identity. I’ve had an officer just proceed with the traffic stop as normal, I’ve also had a number of officers simply say thank you for being up front with me, slow down and have a nice day.

Traffic stops are a minor Inconvenience in the midst of life. 95% of the time caused by our own ignorance. There is no reason to let our emotions get the best of us. Keep a cool head, stay relaxed, show respect, communicate, and follow instructions.

With the recent spike in violence against police officers it’s crucial to do everything possible to ease the tension they feel as they walk up to your car during a traffic stop.

They put on a uniform, a badge, and a gun everyday knowing that every traffic stop could turn from a minor citation to deadly force in an instant.

These people put their lives on the line day after day to keep the peace. Rain, sleet, snow, insane heat, Christmas, New Years, thanksgiving, mid day to middle of the night. A lot of law enforcement officers are over worked, underpaid, unappreciated, tired, and hungry. There is no reason to make their job harder or more stressful.

We all want the same things. Do the job we get paid to do and make it home to our family’s after that job is done. It’s simple.

Stay respectful