If you carry daily (or even just often)…
There’s a good chance that you’ll eventually be pulled over while in possession of your firearm someday.
When that happens… and you see those red and blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror…
There’s a lot of potential for things to go south if you don’t know how to properly navigate the situation.
That said, here are 3 dangerous mistakes to avoid when you’re pulled over while carrying:
Mistake #1: Not Knowing Your State Laws
Some states require you to notify the officer that you’re carrying (like Michigan and Texas), while others do not. And if you happen to be from a state where concealed carry permits are tied to the DMV, the officer will be informed of your permit to carry.
Of course, if you’re traveling in a state where it’s required to notify the officer you have a firearm, you should tell the officer you’re carrying immediately when you roll down your window (and if you’re open carrying, it absolutely should be the first thing you say).
However, if you’re in a state where it isn’t required… opinions on the best course of action differ.
Some say it’s still best to tell the officer, simply because they may see your firearm print – and also because disclosure is a sign of mutual respect (and may improve the outcome of your traffic stop).
Others will say it’s often best not to disclose that you’re carrying, if you’re not legally required to – due to the fact that it’s unnecessary and may come across as threatening.
Ultimately, your decision will depend on the laws of the state you’re in.
And the best resource to learn about those laws is handgunlaw.us.
Mistake #2: Saying, “I Have a Gun”
The correct way to disclose to an officer that you’re carrying is to say something to the effect of:
“As required by law, I want you to know that I am licensed with a valid concealed carry permit, and my firearm is safely holstered on my left side [or in your glovebox, etc.]. Please tell me what you’d like me to do.”
It’s also very good practice to keep your carry permit with your driver’s license and hand them over to the officer together.
NEVER say, “I have a gun.”
This is perceived as a threatening statement and can quickly escalate the situation.
Mistake #3: Being Careless With Your Movements
If you’ve told the officer you have a firearm, it’s important to avoid any sudden movements or rifling around in your car.
Keep both hands on the wheel, and clearly state what you intend to do before making any movements.
If you need to unbuckle your seatbelt… or reach into your pocket or glovebox for your license and registration…
Tell the officer before doing so.
The last thing you want is for the officer to see you reaching somewhere near your gun and think you might be grabbing it.
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