You have a firearm and you were just pulled over, now what?
The vast majority of us will never pull a firearm in self defense, and that's a good thing. Unfortunately most of us will probably get pulled over at least once if not multiple times in our lifetime. Maybe you are speeding or your tail light is burnt out. Either way, no one is happy when they see those red and blue lights flashing in their rear view mirror. If you are carrying a concealed firearm, it can really make your heart race if you don't have a plan. Here are our recommendations on how to make the whole traffic stop go nice and smooth.
The things on this list are just common courtesy, not the law, but are worth going over:
1. Pull over and give the police officer some space
You know the police officer has to get out of his car and that can be dangerous. Pull into a parking lot if it's close or make sure you are as far away from traffic as possible. The officer will be calmer if he isn't stressed the whole time about getting hit by upcoming traffic.
2. Stay calm, quiet down, and wait for the officer
What we mean by this is for you to remain seated in the car without starting to rustle around. Turn the radio and engine off so the officer doesn't have to yell for you to hear him. Keep your hands on the wheel; if it is dark outside turn on the interior lights, and just wait patiently. We do all this just to be courteous and to create the best possible environment to have a calm respectful conversation.
3. Yes Sir / No Sir
As questions are asked be polite and respectful; use phrases like "yes sir, no sir, I am going to reach for my wallet now sir", etc. The officer is going to return the favor and be respectful back and do his job. Telling the officer what you are going to do before you do it will make it so he isn't surprised or confused by your movements.
4. License, Registration, Insurance, and Concealed Weapons Permit
The officer will inevitably ask you for license, registration, etc. This is not the point to blurt out "I have a gun!", even if you say it calmly the officer may take it the wrong way. We recommend you give him the documents he requests with your concealed weapons permit on top. From here, a few things could happen. He could just nod his head and hand you back your permit. He could ask you if you are carrying and where, or he may just tell you to keep your hands on the wheel and he will be right back. If asked about whether you are carrying, keep your hands on the steering wheel and answer honestly. Say things like "yes sir, I am carrying on my right hip" or "no sir, I am not carrying tonight". Do not point to where your are carrying; just answer the question honestly.
The reason we recommend that you hand your permit to the officer with all of your other documents is two fold. First, it clears the air without you having to try and find the right words to tell him you are carrying a firearm. Second, when the officer runs your information through the computer, it will come up that you are a concealed carry permit holder. The officer is going to find out either way that you have a permit, and it will make him more comfortable if you show him your permit upfront. It is for this reason we recommend that you hand him your permit even if you aren't carrying during the stop; it gives him the answers to questions he may have after running your information through the computer.
If you do all of the above and are straight forward, honest, and polite, the officer will do the same for you and the entire traffic stop will be uneventful. Will you still get a ticket? Probably. It really just depends on what the stop was for; however, whether you are carrying a gun or not, treating an officer with respect is going to give you the best possible outcome. Sometimes that outcome may be just a warning while other times it could mean getting a few mph knocked off that speeding ticket. Police have a tough enough job as it is so lets not make it any tougher than it needs to be.