Know Your Rights: If You Disclose You Are Carrying Do You Consent to be Searched?

Officers pull over drivers for suspected traffic infractions every day. If you are stopped and disclose that you are legally carrying a firearm, does that give the officer the right to search you or your car? (Photo/iStock)

In a previous article, we examined whether you should disclose you are carrying a firearm when a law enforcement officer detains you for a traffic stop.  Generally, the advice was that you should voluntarily disclose you are carrying even if the law does not require you to do so.  A logical follow-up question is: If you voluntarily disclose that you are carrying, have you given permission for the police officer to search you or your car?

The question is not an easy one to answer due to the current state of the law.  There is a split among the different jurisdictions in the United States with respect to whether someone who is carrying a gun is automatically considered “dangerous” and subject to search if a law enforcement officer reasonably believes the person is engaged in criminal activity.  In order to understand the issue, it is important to briefly discuss the history of the law related to an officer’s ability to “stop and frisk.”

The History of “Stop and Frisk”

The Fourth Amendment provides that citizens have a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.  The standard used to be fairly cut and dried.  A search was reasonable if law enforcement had a warrant, and a warrant was issued only when there was evidence sufficient to demonstrate probable cause that a crime had been committed.  Then, in 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in a case entitled Terry vs. Ohio. As a result, an officer could seize a person and subject him to a limited search for weapons on nothing more than reasonable suspicion.  The right to “stop and frisk” was born.

The problem with the “stop and frisk” standard is that it is nearly impossible to apply with any precision.  The U.S. Supreme Court explained in the Terry decision than an officer may (1) seize an individual for a brief investigatory stop upon “reasonable suspicion that the suspect was involved in, or is about to be involved in criminal activity,” and (2) frisk the outer clothing of the individual for weapons if he has “reason to believe that he is dealing with an armed and dangerous individual.”  The “reasonable suspicion” standard is low, less than what is necessary for probable cause.

Due to the low standard of proof required for “reasonable suspicion,” the scope of allowable stop and frisk by law enforcement officers has expanded since the Terry decision.  Terry involved the stop of a would-be robber casing an establishment with a gun bulging from his coat. Since that time, the Court has allowed officers to stop and frisk in much less obviously criminal situations.  So now, an officer has the ability to frisk individuals stopped for minor traffic violations who are suspected of carrying weapons.  The scope of the search can include compartments within the “lunge area” of the stopped individual.  Suspects can be arrested for refusing to identify themselves during the stop, and officers can initiate a stop based upon a mistake of fact or law.

Interestingly, what has stopped the continued expansion of the “stop and frisk” powers has been Court decisions related to an individual’s Second Amendment rights. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Court recognized an individual’s right to keep and bear arms for personal protection, along with the increase in the number of states authorizing concealed and open carry of firearms in public, is forcing law enforcement to take a new view of when “stop and frisk” is appropriate for people carrying firearms.

Before the Court’s decision in Heller, there was an assumption that any person carrying a concealed weapon was engaged in the crime of unlawful weapons possession. There was a further assumption that anyone who was armed was necessarily dangerous.  Those two assumptions gave law enforcement off

icers the right to stop and frisk anyone who was carrying a firearm.

After the Court’s decision in Heller, and with more than forty states having little or no restrictions on the public concealed carry of firearms, law enforcement officers can no longer assume that public firearm possession is unlawful.  Further, legal holes have started to appear in the former assumption that anyone who carries a firearm is necessarily dangerous under the law.

The change in the legal landscape has created a split in the legal jurisdictions across the United States.  In some areas of the country, people are presumed to be dangerous when carrying a firearm. In those areas, a law enforcement officer can frisk a person for weapons if he possesses a firearm.

In other areas of the country, people are not automatically presumed to be dangerous just because they possess a firearm. In those areas, officers need to be able to identify facts beyond firearm possession that allow them to conclude a person is dangerous before they may frisk and search.

Stop and Frisk Q & A:

What is a frisk?  A frisk is a limited search for weapons, generally of the outer clothing, but also of those areas which may be within a person’s control and pose a danger to an officer.  It is sometimes referred to as a “pat down” of a person’s outer clothing.

When can an officer frisk?  An officer can frisk when he has reasonable suspicion that a person is armed and dangerous.  In our situation, the officer knows you are armed.  You told him when you disclosed you are carrying.  The issue then becomes, are you dangerous?

Are all armed persons considered dangerous?  Not every armed person is automatically a risk to law enforcement.  For example, a Fish & Game Officer stopping hunters to make sure they have the necessary license and tags is not likely to frisk every hunter he encounters because the hunter is armed with a large caliber rifle. The armed hunter in the situation is not reasonably considered dangerous to the Fish and Game Officer.

Where can an officer frisk?  The officer can frisk a person by patting down his clothing and feeling for weapons.  He can also frisk/search the “lunging area.”  The lunging area is any area from which a person could retrieve a weapon.  In our traffic stop example, the lunging area would include under the seat and under a coat on a front or back seat with reach.  It would also include containers as long as the container could reasonably contain a weapon and the container is unlocked.

Can the officer order me out of the vehicle while he frisks?  The officer can order you and/or your passengers out of the vehicle for officer safety while performing the frisk/search.  If you do not comply, the officer has the right to use reasonable force to overcome resistance to a lawful frisk.

Here is what this generally means for those who carry:

• A police officer can no longer detain you just because you are carrying.

• If you are stopped by a police officer for a reason other than firearm possession, the officer cannot legally frisk/search you unless he has a reasonable belief that you are armed and dangerous.

If you Disclose, Be Prepared for a Frisk/Search

So back to our original question. If you are stopped by the police and voluntarily disclose that you are carrying, have you given the officer permission to search you or your car?  The answer is no.  However, even if the office does not have your permission to search, you need to be aware that the officer may frisk/search you if he believes that you are dangerous.  And remember, in some jurisdictions, just having possession of a firearm is enough to make you dangerous.  Your best course of action is to have reasonable expectations and be mentally prepared.

For those who find themselves detained by an officer during a traffic stop:

• If you disclose that you are carrying a firearm, you need to be prepared for the officer to frisk you and/or search the “lunge area” of the vehicle you are in.

• If the officer requests that you and/or your passengers get out of the car for the frisk/search you will need to comply.  The officer has the right to ask if he reasonably believes you are armed and dangerous.  He also has the right to use reasonable force should you try and resist.

We should be allowed to enjoy each and every one of our constitutional rights without restriction.  However, the reality is that there has been a balance struck by the courts between our Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and our Second Amendment right to possess firearms.  If you understand your rights and are mentally prepared for the possible actions of law enforcement as outlined in this article, you should be able to conclude a traffic stop with a minimal amount of infringement on your constitutional rights.

As a last and final point, never ever consent to a search. This doesn’t mean resist. It means don’t give consent. If you are searched unlawfully let an attorney sort it out afterward.

About the author: John Thomas is a U.S. Navy veteran, and a former prosecutor and defense attorney with over 20 years of experience in state and federal courts. He has handled everything from traffic tickets to first-degree murder cases and is a long-time supporter of Second Amendment rights and the rights of individuals to defend themselves, their families and their property.

{ 73 comments… add one }
  • missourisam December 31, 2019, 10:30 am

    As a retired LEO with a LEOSA permit that I keep current, if I am stopped for any reason I present my ID and permit and tell the officer where on my person I am packing. I have never had any issues with a search or frisk, or even been asked to submit to one. I know there are some jurisdictions where the carry climate is so strict that even LEOSA permit holders have been arrested or detained. If you are a LEOSA permit holder, cooperate and use lawful redress later. I remember reading about a north eastern state where a permit holder was unlawfully detained and a judge found him guilty of a local ordinance. When he brought suit the officer and the judge both contributed heavily to the permit holder’s retirement fund. Calmly and concisely explain the LEOSA law and if the officer is so uninformed as to arrest you, he should be sued. If an officer does not know the law he should not be trying to enforce it.

  • Mort Leith December 30, 2019, 1:11 pm

    By law here in Georgia you don’t have to inform the officer if you’re carrying.

    However, I always give my CCW permit with my DL because if I were a cop,, I would want to know…

    99% of the time when I inform them that I have a Sig .40 on my right hip and ask if they want to do anything with it,, they just say “nah…” and we’re good.
    But I think they appreciate it that I informed them even when I wasn’t bound by law to do that.

    • G.O.A. Patriot February 13, 2020, 12:57 pm

      I’ve been stopped at license checks and once for “unsafe” passing riding my motorcycle. Every time I have an encounter with a LEO I always hand my permit to him along with my drivers license. I have encountered NO problems doing this and once had an officer even thank me for doing it. He told me when he sees a concealed carry permit he knows the citizen is a law abiding citizen and he even gave me just a warning for passing more than one vehicle at a time.

  • Rich K. December 30, 2019, 12:24 pm

    I’ve never had a problem thus far. The laws in my state say that if you have a CPL, AND if you are armed at the time, you are required to inform the officer if you are pulled over. I don’t get pulled over very often in the first place, and the few times I have I complied with the law, informed the officer where the gun was (and only once did he ask to see it, at which point he unloaded it – a DA revolver at that time – and handed it back to me; he kept the ammo until he was done running my plates and sent me on my way).

  • Freeman December 30, 2019, 11:19 am

    If you are not required to inform by law, don’t tell the LEO shit!! My 76 year old father was walking his dogs by a river near his home a couple of years ago. A deputy sheriff drove by, stopped, and asked my father what he was doing. He explained that he was walking his dogs and enjoying the morning. Following the advice of his concealed carry class instructor (also a LEO), he informed the deputy that he held a ccw license and was armed. The deputy flipped his lid! He drew his pistol, aimed it at my father, and ordered him to hold still with his hands up. He then rushed my father and tackled him on the gravel road. The deputy held my father with a knee to the back with his face in the gravel and took his 1911 and chucked it into the rocks. My father was detained for two hours and suffered many bruises. Only after a supervisor arrived was my father released with not even an apology. If that LEO reacted that way with a little old man, how would he react to someone larger and younger?

    • Mort Leith December 30, 2019, 1:13 pm

      HAD to have been a liberal-commie State,,, this NEVER would happen in a normal southern State….

      I would guess the northeast or the LEFT coast

      • Gene December 30, 2019, 5:04 pm

        Wouldn’t happen in Maine you redneck @&$”&$!$@

        • Todd Peterson November 30, 2021, 12:16 am

          I agree!

    • Jeremy December 30, 2019, 10:14 pm

      That sounds like a good lawsuit case. First of all, the officer (especially a Sheriff or Deputy) had no right to even ask a dog Walker what he was doing or where he was going unless the old man was identified being a trespasser on someone else’s private land. Then the assault on him is a no brainer.

  • birda40 December 30, 2019, 9:07 am

    You never know how you’ll be treated at a stop, My Mom was stopped for speeding in Southern Tenn. She is 81 years old, the Officer felt it a necessary to search her vehicle , While rooting thru her purse he found her meds which was prescribed blood control , this fine fellow dropped them to the ground and kicked the bottle under her van. This type of behavior is uncalled for. I personally have noticed the change thru the years , they seem to be about money anymore, not all are like this gentleman but the training they are receiving is showing tremendously. Oh she also received a ticket for her time 125.00 , luckily she has her CCL.

  • TexDad December 30, 2019, 8:57 am

    Good article. Let’s use the word “authority” though when we’re talking about actions an officer are authorized to take. It’s not about their “rights”. There’s nothing right about it, it’s a (hopefully necessary) action they are authorized to take.

  • thomas jefferson December 30, 2019, 8:40 am

    “…you should be able to conclude a traffic stop with a minimal amount of infringement on your constitutional rights.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? This is the deficient mind-set of a BRAIN-WASHED SLAVE.
    WAKE UP PEOPLE. Read any of my writings from 200+ years ago. There is a wealth of information contained therein.
    As an example: I advocated that revolution may be necessary every 75 or so years as people become compliant to bigger Govt. taking the ‘load’ of responsibility off of them.
    I even pointed it out in the Declaration, which many people never even noticed, when I wrote “all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable , than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed”.
    In short, people become compliant and LAZY, willingly taking abuses as long as they have some form of other comfort.
    I give you the Democrat Party’s base.
    That’s what they are being promised, at the expense of certain individual freedoms.
    I believe that blood MUST be spilled.
    And it may be that I, Thomas Jefferson am right.

  • Joh October 25, 2019, 4:31 pm

    Before I had a CFP, two friends and I where driving out of state to see a terminally ill friend. I was driving my vehicle and was pulled over for excessive speed. During the stop the UHP asked if he could search my vehicle, I asked him if that was a command or a request. He answered, “I’m just asking”, I replied, “Not today officer we are on our way to see a terminally ill friend”. His response was, “So you are telling me no and you have something in the car you don’t wait me to find”. My response was, “Officer, that is a trick question”, and not another single word was said about searching the vehicle.

    I have renewed my permit for the forth time this year and have had nothing but the utmost respect from LEO with many different positive comments, such as, I wish more people would get a permit and thank you for exercising your second amendment rights.

    Now, for me, when I’m pulled over its put the vehicle in park, or gear, and turn it off. Then hands on the steering wheel and wait for the officer to approach my window. when the officer is at the window, if the window is up, wait for them to indicate to roll the window down. It’s always the first question, license, registration, and insurance and I say, yes sir I have all that and I’m a permit holder and I have a firearm on me. Countless times I’ve been given a warning and sent on my way, even at 10 miles a hour over the speed limit.

    It’s about what you give is what you get, yes there is that 10 percent or 1 percent, whatever number you what to put on it, but, you give the respect and courtesy you get respect and courtesy.

    I would not want their job, I could not do their job, but it is necessary and there are people who are willing to do it and there are those out there who do the job well….and of course those out there who do not. The time spent on the side of the road, 15, 30 minutes….an hour of “embarrassment” is nothing compared to winning the case in court and basically having the judge tell the officer that he was in the wrong is priceless and reflects on his record. Hey, if I’m flying down the road and get caught, I pay the price, if I’m flying down the road and get caught and you want to go fishing for whatever you think you can find, you will answer to a judge and you will pay the price and most of the time the ticket is dismissed, all without an attorney….because I’ve never gotten deep enough with LEO to need one.

    • J Atwood December 30, 2019, 3:07 am

      The catch is when you follow the rules, disclose you’re legally carrying, and the officer panics and shoots you dead. This has happened before, esp. if the officer is white and the driver is black.
      The cop doesn’t even have to see the weapon. They can just state that they thought they smelled pot and feared for their life.
      Great, you followed the law and died vs. being alive and at worst standing trial for a BS charge of not disclosing you were armed.
      I’d rather be alive to stand trial thank you very much. My practice is a to only answer direct questions honestly and concisely while keeping my hands in plain view. And a big Hell No to consenting to a search.

      • John Shirley December 30, 2019, 9:50 am

        J. I agree with you on the consent search, never consent to a search. However, on the black and white issue, you couldn’t be further from the truth. My position comes from 8 years on the Florida Highway Patrol and 25 years as a Federal Special Agent. My contacts with violators (felonious and misdemeanors) where all identical. Race was not a factor. What was a huge factor, was attitude, demeanor and dress. When I stopped or arrested someone that immediately started giving me grief and were dressed like a gangbanger, I instantly went on the offensive. If I stopped someone dressed like they were coming home from church and they were cooperative and polite, they likely got a pass. My overall advise, be cooperative, polite and forthcoming to all questions, EVEN IF THE OFFICER IS WRONG! In the long run, you’ll be much, much better off.

        • SD December 30, 2019, 10:32 am

          Amen John,
          Attitude has gotten more blacks shot than anything else. Cooperate and these shootings wouldn’t happen.

        • AOB December 17, 2021, 8:50 am

          While I found the comment about race disturbing, your comment about “attitude, demeanor and dress” is also disturbing to me. As an older female, I’ve been pulled over about ten times in my lifetime in about five different states from Arizona to Alaska. All stops but one were NOT legitimate. Of course I drove a sporty vehicle with limousine tinted windows (Subaru Legacy often confused as a WRX which is often used for street racing) so the LEOs simply wanted to see who was driving the vehicle. I know this because, nine times out of ten I was met with a surprised look when they saw lil ol me. That not only annoyed me but wasted my time. Re attitude? I always give in kind “manners!” Never in kind attitude because if they’re looking for a criminal, they’re taking you to jail if they find a criminal attitude. Clearly my car represented a bias that the driver was a criminal and I was probably lucky “back then.” Today? Probably not so lucky because LEOs have changed. And that’s a fact worth considering in regards to your “attire, demeanor, and attitude “ assumption.

      • Big Al Robinson December 30, 2019, 10:58 am

        Your comment is full of assumptions and innuendo, and quite frankly I question if you have the stability of mind to be carrying.
        Take that as you please, but you really come across as a cop hater.
        I know MANY LEO’s, and the ones I know are very stable and responsible people. You make them out to be almost Gestapo in your comments, as well as racists.

  • Royp May 26, 2019, 9:32 pm

    I’ve had a license to carry concealed for over 30 years. First in Washington State and now in Colorado. Neither state has a requirement to disclose either possession of a firearm or the license to carry. Recently I had a gross lapse in judgement and got a speeding ticket here in Colorado. I was polite, respectful and only answered the questions and provided information required. I never opened my mouth to tell the officer I was carrying as the topic never came up. When the officer was done i shook his hand, rolled hip my window and drive away.

  • Tim Shaw May 22, 2019, 2:06 pm

    Wow, after reading all the comments, I’m glad I live in Alaska. LEOs up here expect everyone to be carrying.

    • Guido December 30, 2019, 9:07 am

      That’s how it ought’a be here in the lower 48. I run into more people who have a carry license and don’t even have a carry rig, much less have actually carried a weapon with them during daily activities.
      Since Texas allows a legally owned handgun to be concealed in a vehicle without a permit (Castle Doctrine) so many people, including permit holders, are content with that.

  • Newt May 22, 2019, 7:22 am

    Having a licence to carry was not addressed.

  • John May 21, 2019, 9:31 pm

    No need to frisk if you already told them you are armed and provide proper credentials…..

  • GSG May 21, 2019, 12:23 am

    Government agents have POWERS in the execution of their official duties, not “rights.”

  • Knight2 May 21, 2019, 12:09 am

    Who is to be trusted when the King’s men pull you over to extort money from you? I used to think that as a courtesy to a police person I would show them my CFP just as a heads up. I mean we all know “they” make it very hard for any honest hard working, law abiding citizen to get a CFP/CCW and then charge you a King’s ransom for that “Right”. Local, State, Federal background checks that takes months. So we all play the game and jump through all their hoops and pay the ransom. But as of late I have noticed in the last five years the quality of police people they hire are scraping the bottom of the barrel. Especially when it comes to the PC/Liberal cities. Knowing that in the USA more people are killed by the police then terrorists really has me on the wall about who to trust. Maybe police speeding down the street shooting through their windshield, endangering innocent citizens is the new norm? Killing a family’s dog, shooting handcuffed people in the back, using more power then needed, look up Eric Scott, Costco, Henderson, NV. Just wow, really makes you wonder who to trust.

    • SD December 30, 2019, 10:36 am

      Sure Knight2. Next time you need help, call a terrorist.

  • LL May 20, 2019, 5:52 pm

    In Michigan if you have a CPL you MUST disclose if you are stopped by a LEO only if you are carrying at the time. You DO NOT have to disclose that you have a CPL if you aren’t carrying and that info is not available to LEOs in the LEIN computer. LEO’s usually treat someone with a CPL as a citizen held to a higher public standard and less likely to commit any crimes. I don’t believe that having a CPL and are carrying gives them the right to search your vehicle.

    • EP May 22, 2019, 7:43 am

      I’m in Michigan as well. When I took my CCW class, the instructor suggested identifying yourself as a CPL holder(as a courtesy), and tell him whether or not you are carrying at the time. I got pulled over once and although I wasn’t carrying at the time the officer said I’m supposed to let him know I have a CPL either way. I was about to, but his first question was “Are you carrying today?” I have a friend who is an officer who told me the same thing. Both officers’ statements corroborate my instructor’s suggestion, so that’s how I will handle it if pulled over in the future.

  • Penrod May 20, 2019, 5:51 pm

    In 65 years I can recall four encounters with LEOs which I did not initiate. All of them were for trivial but legitimate offenses. In two of them the officers and I parted amicably, with me suitably chastened.

    The other two, however, involved LEOs who I consider felony level criminals. In one case they eventually went to federal prison for unrelated activities involving drug dealing, election corruption, and arson. In the other, three of them beat a co-worker of mine quite badly after a stop for a minor offense of mine. After Court the next morning we made an official complaint, made statements, had my co-worker’s injuries photographed, and then were told in as many words: ‘You do realize that unless someone else makes the same complaint against these same officers within thirty days, there is nothing we can do.’

    That was when I realized that in that big city department in the early 1970s, the internal affairs department had been infiltrated by criminals who existed not to weed out the bad apples, but to protect them. If you think about that a bit, it should give you an idea that there were a lot of felony level criminals on street patrol: Enough to warrant their taking over the internal affairs department.

    So fifty percent of my non-consensual encounters with LEOs have been with violent criminals in uniforms. Forget standing on your rights other than to refuse permission: you may be dealing with a felony level criminal who would delight in beating you or even gunning you down. Be respectful, non-confrontational, and cooperative. If you need to go to court later, so be it, but you aren’t going to court if you’re dead, and the court will believe the LEO’s version long before believing yours.

    Here’s a link to an LATimes story about the people I had a run in with in West Virginia. I was respectful and kept my nose clean while in that county, and it wasn’t for a couple years that I realized how much danger I had been in. Sixty-nine officials were indicted, and sixty-nine were convicted, including the county sheriff, prosecutor, and county judge.

    Here’s another about the same story.

    Are you SURE you want to defy people like these, on the spot?

  • Matt May 20, 2019, 12:40 pm

    Something else you should keep in mind. Your appearance and where you are at the wrong time can get you frisked and your car searched. I’ll give you a couple of examples.

    My son believes piercings and tattoos are something that makes you more becoming. He had several. Between the age of 21 and 36 he was stopped about a couple of dozen times and in about two thirds of those stops he was frisked and had his car searched. He never carried a gun but he did loose several knives. In one instance it ended with him having to go to court. So if you are of a certain age and look a certain way you can expect it. It’s called profile and if you fit it it will happen.

    Another example. I worked managing Architects and Contractors in the design and construction of buildings for my employer. At times my job included going and doing presentations of what was being designed. My last employer was a large school system and I was asked to do a presentation at the school we were working on. It was located in a black area of that town where there was gang activity and a lot of drug dealing. I’m white. Well the presentation and questions lasted a little longer than expected and ended well after nine PM. I knew the neighborhood because we had finished another school close by. I decided to get to the freeway as quickly as possible and I took the shortest route. On my way I was careful to drive slow because there were speed bumps everywhere. I noticed a police car sitting in an alley but didn’t pay much attention because I was having to drive slow anyway. As I passed it they pulled out and turned on the blue lights. The officer said I was stopped because my third brake light was out. We both knew that it was because I was a white guy in a black neighborhood where there were drug dealers and it was after dark. It’s called profile and if you fit it it will happen.

    Remedy, think about what you appear to be to an officer.

  • Harry E Kuheim May 20, 2019, 12:28 pm

    A Cop can hassle you for hours and hours if they feel like it…They just want to “KEEP YOU SAFE” Comrades…

    • Jeff May 20, 2019, 3:23 pm

      False, a cop can not “hassle you for hours and hours” regardless of what your friends tell you or what you watch on CSI Miami. There are set limits to how long a police officer may detain an individual and that detention must always fall under what is reasonable under the circumstances. There is plenty of case law on this.

      • Dr. Sanders May 20, 2019, 9:16 pm

        You are wrong too. There are limits but, sadly, they are usually local. Further, some states do have a set time limit, i.e., eight hours, 10 hours, whatever… Also, most large, e.g., professional law enforcement agencies have a policy or rule, for example the California Highway Patrol usually has a policy of “whatever is expedient,” meaning, if the officer needs to take 30 minutes he will take 30 minutes (or until a supervisor tells him to zip it up and get back to work).
        Moreover, the FBI and DEA are fairly clear about what they can and cannot do. Usually. However, as we all know there are, or have been, people in our civil service system who should not be there but whom you cannot fire for political reasons. If you are unfortunate enough to run into these people–I’ve had exactly ONE contact in fifty years experience, you can do one of two things, to wit:
        1.) Tolerate what you have to but take copious notes, or 2.) Placate, apologize, whatever you have to to break contact, these are usually NO WIN situations and you probably want to leave a sleeping dogs lie.
        Finally, the above UN-named Agent or Officer(s) are not usually the sharpest tool in the shed so whatever you can do to break contact is usually advisable.

  • Mike in a Truck May 20, 2019, 11:28 am

    What toasts my chestnuts is the Republicans held the House,Senate,and Oval Office for two years and did nothing on national concealed carry. At the same time they could have made a uniform law(s) for vehicle stops, hotel/ motel occupancy, campgrounds etc.They suck and a pox on them.

    • Harry E Kuheim May 20, 2019, 12:30 pm

      Well, maybe you’ll like what Bernie or any other Democrat has in store for you instead Comrade…Idiots like you not Voting for Republicans get Democrats Elected…

      • Penrod May 20, 2019, 4:35 pm

        We can vote for Republicans all you want but that doesn’t change the fact that Republicans had an opportunity to do a lot of good but decided not to.

        Democrats being even worse, even FAR worse, doesn’t change that.

        In states like mine, the People’s Republic of Paradise aka Hawai’i, we can vote all you want for Republicans and it will do exactly zero good. This is a one party state and there is no reason to think the majority wants it any different. One either accepts that people here dislike Constitutional government and get on with life, or one leaves. I plan on leaving, but that doesn’t change anything here except eliminate one more non-Democrat voter.

        • Mark N. May 21, 2019, 1:28 am

          I disagree. The Republicans never had enough of a majority in the Senate to effectuate national CCW (assuming that you want the federal government determining who should be allowed to carry a concealed firearm). Under the current rules, any senator can filibuster a bill simply by announcing a filibuster (unlike the olde days where they actually had to stand up and keep talking). To overcome a filibuster, called a cloture vote, requires 60 votes. With the Democrats voting as a bloc against anything Trump, the Republicans, with a bare majority and not enough Democrat friends who would vote with them, were always short of the needed 60 votes to invoke cloture and get a bill to the floor for an up or down vote. Which is exactly why McConnel never brought a bill to the floor.

          • Guido December 30, 2019, 9:16 am

            There’s a school of thought that national conceal carry laws are accompanied by national lists of legal conceal carriers.
            That’s a bit too close to a “national gun registry” for my comfort. Citizens of States that do not require registration of firearms (other than NFA items, obviously) potentially have a lot to lose.

    • Spicolli April 8, 2020, 11:20 am

      I agree completely but I do believe that if they do regain the house this year and hold the senate they will be much more likely to do it. I believe that the whole problem was Paul Ryan. I sincerely believe it was he that held this up along with a couple of stipulations that the dummycRATS added to the bill that caused it to fail …

  • Dexter Winslett Bham. P.D. Retired May 20, 2019, 11:00 am

    It is none of the governments business if you are armed.

  • Bill Morgan May 20, 2019, 10:51 am

    I live in Texas were it is legal, with a permit, to open or conceal carry. I have been a victim of an over bearing LEO on a traffic stop for a simple lane change infraction and that was his opinion. I’m an avid open carry person. In this case, I rolled all of windows down, kept my hands visible, informed the LEO that I had a permit and I was carrying a weapon. For some reason that was a trigger, no pun intended, to increase the adrenaline of the LEO by his demeanor. What next? Yep, out I came and the frisk began. When I ask what that was all about the answer I got was you are being detained. I felt as if I was guilty and had to try and find away to be innocent during this particular stop. Not a good feeling! Bottom line he took my weapon unloaded it, completed a frisk, found nothing, I did not consent to a search and yes guess what out came the dog. Nothing there either. What a shame to exploit a persons rights. At the end of, what I called a 45 minute training session, I got a ticket and was sent on my way. I also found It does absolutely no good to report over zealous LEO and if you do you become a target for the future. In my opinion, the illegal or at very least unethical way this stop was handled needed reporting. However, I have legally carried for over 45 years and never had a problem or experience such as this one. My take is to always let the LEO know I’m carrying, even though I know there are Jerks on every force that want to be the big shot on scene. But I also know how scary it is to be on the receiving end of a gun pointed at you so there is that level of thought in the mind of a LEO and should be. I believe the 99.9 % of LEO are good and will do the right thing when you attempt to do right thing or at least the be the adult in the situation. Bur Damn that .1% is a bitch to get through.

    • George J Forster May 20, 2019, 4:02 pm

      This happens to myself all the time until the offending officer finally got charged for other charges including, sexual misconduct with a minor, forgery and taking $$$ from people who didn’t speak much English. In 3yrs I was pulled over 78 times was never given a ticket just harassed. Here in South Texas you never ever trust law enforcement. Its not Terrorist citizens need to fear its Terrorist with Badges that are the greatest threat to the USA.

      • Guido December 30, 2019, 9:31 am

        Never happened to me, but I’ve seen plenty of cop shows where the LEO states that “I smelled the odor of marijuana, so I have the right to search your vehicle”.
        That reeks of subjectivity and overreach. I can’t hold it against the officer, but whoever interpreted our Bill of Rights to declare that “within the framework” has a different perspective than I.

  • Gary Farnsworth May 20, 2019, 10:24 am

    Can the officer ask for and take your firearm?

    • Harry E Kuheim May 20, 2019, 12:35 pm

      They can do and ask anything they want with no repercussions at all , including you in Handcuffs face down on the roadside…unless you have lots of $$$ and time for Lawsuits. They just claim they were trying to keep everyone Safe.

    • USMC Deputy May 20, 2019, 1:11 pm

      I can only speak for Texas, but the answer is unfortunately not a clear cut one. Yes, as a peace officer in TX, if I have contact with you because i have reasonable suspicion you were involved (key word involved) in any crime other than a class C traffic violation, I can take your weapon while you’re being detained. If its found you’re not involved I have to give it back.
      However, there are other factors which allow you to be disarmed, such as if you become agitated & belligerent on a stop & the officer can articulate a reasonable belief disarming you was safer for both of you.
      Additionally, as a Deputy Sheriff I have a greater responsibility to the citizens of my county & thus greater authority. I can disarm you if I can articulate you being armed was an affront to the public peace, &/or the peace & dignity of the State of Texas & my county.
      All this advice assumes you were lawfully carrying.
      As the author said, if you feel your rights have been violated, please get a lawyer & fight it in court. The second you fight it on the street with the officer you become wrong, even if you were right. Even if its shown later they unlawfully acted, you’ll still be charged. It’s not the hill you want to die on.

      • BR549 May 20, 2019, 8:18 pm

        You do know that the rogue LEOs still have to get home at night, like everyone else. Should society break down even further, something that the Left keeps pushing in order to maintain their relevance, that veil of authority is going to get awfully thin.

        My advice to LEOs is that they are getting paid to support the Constitution. My 70 year old lady friend was caught speeding and this “loose cannon” came up to the window screaming his head off with his gun drawn. The more that LEOS become victims of stress, sooner or later, they are going to lose a lot of much needed respect and if and when the system starts to go down, they are going to be REALLY late for dinner.

        Much of how LEOs are treated depends on how they treat other people and, like I said, when that veil gets thin, they are going to be praying like hell that they have broadcast a reputation for themselves as worthwhile members of the community instead of paid emotionally immature thugs, …………. and you know what I am talking about. There are a too many LEOs out there who give good ones a bad name, yet no one is culling these misfits from the squad; they’re just tolerated until they go too far.

        So yes, I guess we have to play this game until those who are professionally paid to know the difference actually know the difference. Sadly, it isn’t a game. I think the media FEEDS off this stuff and instead of Hollywood showing viewers how good interactions with LEOs could and should take place, they always focus on excessive power, abuse, blood, and body bags.

  • Traveler May 20, 2019, 10:20 am

    Question for you Illinois folks – I am a concealed carry permit holder and have been carrying for over 25 years. I travel as a sales guy all over the US. I am very careful about knowing state laws that I’m travelling through and respect those state rights to do so (even though I don’t like it!!!). I’m also an active firearms instructor and was a LEO for a number of years. I’ve seen both sides of this discussion….

    I have been stopped a couple of times, always declared/hands on wheel/interior light on/etc. and it has always ended up with a pleasant, polite conversation and not a speeding ticket – even though I probably deserved one or two!

    Illinois is one that has me confused as to declare or not. Per the law, I do not have to declare unless asked by the officer. I cannot leave my vehicle with my pistol. If I leave my vehicle, the pistol has to be locked up, etc. according to the law.

    The simple act of getting out of my car could be a violation. (This is why I make sure the gas tank is full before entering Illinois!).

    My concern is if I declare, and the officer is not fluent in firearms laws, am I opening a can of worms? Obviously if I’m asked I will declare, but I’m thinking to NOT declare if not asked may be the best scenario? Anyone have any direct experience with this?

    • Mas May 20, 2019, 11:41 am

      The fact that you are an ex-LEO and simply declaring and providing ID to substantiate that claim you are already a few big steps ahead of us civies. You most likely will get preferential treatment.

    • IL help May 20, 2019, 12:10 pm

      I would think it’s always best to let an officer know up front.
      If he notices your firearm on his own, he will have to consider that you may have a reason for not telling him.

      I would assume most officers are aware of the relevant laws.

      The Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Licensing Act states:

      (e) Nothing in this Act shall prohibit a non-resident from transporting a concealed firearm within his or her vehicle in Illinois, if the concealed firearm remains within his or her vehicle and the non-resident:
      (1) is not prohibited from owning or possessing a
      firearm under federal law;
      (2) is eligible to carry a firearm in public under
      the laws of his or her state or territory of residence, as evidenced by the possession of a concealed carry license or permit issued by his or her state of residence, if applicable; and
      (3) is not in possession of a license under this Act.
      If the non-resident leaves his or her vehicle unattended, he or she shall store the firearm within a locked vehicle or locked container within the vehicle in accordance with subsection (b) of Section 65 of this Act.

    • Ron W May 20, 2019, 5:34 pm

      “The Land of Lincoln” is a slave state. It’s regressed to the 1857 SCOTUS decision which arbitrarily related black people to non person status lest “the be able to speak out publically and go armed everywhere they went.” As history conclusively demonstrates, slaves are always disarmed and kept that way.

  • G.O.A. Patriot May 20, 2019, 9:47 am

    Here in NC we are required by law to let any LEO know we’re carrying! I usually just hand the cop my permit along with my drivers license if I’m pulled over or drive into an unconstitutional license check. I’ve had officers tell me they appreciate it and to have a nice day. One officer told me he knew a person was legit if they handed him a carry permit because of the background checks you HAVE to go through to get one! I love living in a 2A friendly southern state!!!

  • David May 20, 2019, 9:39 am

    I have a CCW Permit from Arkansas, I carry everywhere in the state. We are going to Pensacola on vacation and I was planning on carrying while traveling. But, going through the different states and small towns I am in doubt. I am 72 and the peace of mind I have with my pistol kind of makes up for physical abilities.

    • Dr. Strangelove May 20, 2019, 10:51 am

      @David Federal law allows you to transport a firearm, unloaded, in a locked case with the ammunition stored separately. is a great site to find out which states honor your permit to carry.

  • Larry W Morrison May 20, 2019, 9:02 am

    The problem started when cops got the go ahead to use the Traffic Stop as a reason to open a fishing expedition and suspect you of committing every crime in the book till the revenue gathering officer is satisfied he can’t fine, arrest or harrass you any longer.

    Police are now using the traffic stop as their main crime investigating tool, instead of going directly after criminals directly from gathered clues. Now it is pull over 100 (once) free Americans to catch one bad guy that has a warrant out for their arrest. And collect mega bucks for the government (their salary and pension) along the way.

    Sorry, but police are not your friend.

    It is none of a cop’s business if I have a firearm, where I’m headed, where I’m coming from…etc. Any more than what I had for lunch. Never submit to a search! And never give a cop any more information than they need to write you out the ticket for the offence they claim you commited.

    • David Kent May 20, 2019, 10:36 am

      You are 100% correct, sir! But it’s not just traffic stops. There is an entire industry devoted to teaching cops how to ‘construct’ a ‘non custodial circumstance’ so that a consent search holds up in court. It’s abused not only on traffic stops, but even more so with foot traffic in bad neighborhoods. My police career spanned the time before consent searches were in vogue and during wide acceptance. It’s no coincidence that the rise in violence against officers is commensurate with the rise in consent searches. Even a criminal instinctively knows when his rights are being violated.

      During several training sessions where we we learning how to implement consent searches, I asked: “If it truly is a CONSENT search, why don’t we inform the individual up front that s/he has the absolute right to refuse the search without further jeopardy, similar to a Miranda warning?” I was laughed out of the classroom. The consensus was if we TELL people they can refuse, who’s gonna consent? So much for consent. Police work no longer involves being smarter than a badguy, only the willingness to conduct scavenger hunts. A coworker who shared my views liked to say: “Even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in awhile.”

      • Jeff May 20, 2019, 3:28 pm

        Sounds like you guys have a sovereign citizen meeting you’re missing… Calm down, cops aren’t out to get you. Pro tip, don’t violate the law and you likely won’t ever have to deal with a cop on any level.

        • John Shirley December 30, 2019, 11:07 am

          Sound advise Jeff. If they dislike cops that much, maybe don’t break the law and don’t dial 911 when they become victims of a crime.

  • David Kent May 20, 2019, 8:31 am

    As an FTO (Field Training Officer) Here’s how I told my recruits to handle a stop with an admission of being armed:

    1. PLease keep your hands visible to me.
    2. Without reaching for it, where is your gun?
    3. PLease leave it there and give me your CWP.
    4. After verifying the validity of the CWP, and in the absence of aggravating circumstance, that’s the END of the discussion of the gun and attention is turned to the reason for the stop.

    NO removal of the person from the car, no retrieval of the gun, no NCIC check on the numbers…no need to fondle the man’s gun at all. Especially since the cop likely has zero experience with a 1911 in Condition 1.

    Consent search? I care not one whit what SCOTUS says…The only reason for a consent search is because the search cannot be justified by probable cause. The Constitutional definition of an illegal search is one conducted without probable cause. They got it wrong. Hence, I never conducted a consent search in my entire 30 year career. I was intelligent enough to develop my own probable cause to justify all of my actions. Scavenger hunts are for college fratboys.

    • Guido December 30, 2019, 9:39 am

      Officer Kent
      Your insight and perspective is refreshing and appreciated, Sir.

  • BHW May 20, 2019, 7:05 am

    I have a Virginia CC permit, I was stopped in PA and the officer asked if he needed to feel threatened by anything in my car. I said no, as I was not carrying. He took my license and registration went back to his car, and came back asking why I did not inform him previously that I had a CC permit? He then got me out of the car, and for his safety, handcuffed me on the side of the road. He then searched my car. He said when he checks your license, it comes up if you have a CC permit or not. I have heard that Maryland does the same thing, checking plates of vehicles and then comparing to see if the owner has a CC permit. They then pull you over and check your vehicle. I have not experienced that, but it was on the local news several times. So in both cases, it didn’t matter if you told the officer, or didn’t tell, they seem to have the means to know without asking you personally.

    • Michael C May 20, 2019, 8:37 am

      PA does not have gun registry, so if the officer knew you had a permit to carry concealed, it would have to be something attached to your Virginia drivers license. If asked by a LEO if you have a license/permit to carry, you must produce it. To be handcuffed and searched would mean the officer didn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground. I’ve lived in PA all of my life and have been carrying for concealed for the better part of 30 years, and have never heard of this type of thing happening.

    • RSConsulting May 20, 2019, 9:13 am

      Interestingly – if you were NOT carrying (or had a firearm in the car), then there was no reason for you to declare you have a CCW. The “declaration rules” (which vary from state to state), only apply if you are ACTUALLY CARRYING ON YOUR PERSON.

      Even absent a CCW, if you are legally carrying in your car (again, varies from state to state), which usually means in a glovebox or console – I personally declare.

      Being from Florida with a CCW – I’m still not legal in many states (MD, NJ, NY, and many others in the commie NE), to have a weapon accessible in the passenger compartment (and many of those states will hassle or even arrest for having one in the trunk).

      Again – even with a CCW, if you don’t have a weapon WITH YOU – there’s no reason to declare you’re a CCW holder.

      Since I don’t go ANYWHERE that I can legally carry WITHOUT CARRYING (and Florida has reciprocity with like 36 other states), I always follow the procedure of hanging my hands out the window in plain view, and declaring immediately that I am a CCW holder and I have a weapon on my person.

    • Mas May 20, 2019, 11:48 am

      That is very strange. If the officer already knows of your CC status why does he have to burden you with a declaration of your CCW status? it seems to be a typical case of Mr. cop going on a power trip and just want to practice his handcuffing skill.

    • Lukeum December 30, 2019, 2:35 pm

      BHW in VA your CHP is made known to all dispatchers everywhere in VA via your VA operators license to any LEO on a traffic stop he knows before he leaves his office is that constitutional you be the judge

  • Buckshott00 May 19, 2019, 9:52 pm

    I don’t understand how any reasonable person can consider that “a minimal amount of infringement on your constitutional rights” is acceptable.
    Would be acceptable to be minimally raped? Would it be acceptable to be minimally murdered? Would it be acceptable to talk down a robber to minimally rob you?

    Don’t get me wrong, I think this is all solid advice on how to get thru a traffic stop, but what’s the point of having arms to protect ourselves from an overbearing Gov’t if we all pass laws that enable an overbearing Gov’t? And what’s worse most of you jokers will probably support the overbearing Gov’t.

    I only hope everyone gnashing their teeth at me right now has the distinct displeasure of being on the wrong side of overzealous under trained incompetent LEO’s. Might make you a bit more compassionate towards all the people that say “just do what the Officer says” or “if you have nothing to hide what’s the problem”.

    Your guns are your right, not your identity.

    • MagnumOpUS May 20, 2019, 7:25 am

      “Your guns are your right, not your identity.”

      Well spoken!

    • Mas May 20, 2019, 11:44 am

      I have to agree with you. Currently the LEO in general is already given too much power and tend to abuse it at times. There are plenty of good cops out there but then the bad apples are not isolated cases either.

      • James Gillett May 20, 2019, 3:09 pm

        HELL NO With all the penny ante back wood speed traps locations in California, disclosing that there is any ttype of GUN in your car will have the peckerwood officer call in a SWAT team for your full arrest. Thousands of dollars and a few weeks of time later you will have time to consider that most backwoods locations such in El Dorado county between Lake Tahoe and Sacramento is full of peckerwood pin head deputy sheriffs looking to earn points by making anyone they can pay and pay and pay. Hell no.

    • SD December 30, 2019, 10:00 pm

      I agree with the “if you have nothing to hide what’s the problem” is the wrong attitude but “just do what the officer says” is solid advice. Remember, he has the upper hand. If you don’t like it your odds of winning may be slim in court but non existent on the street. Don’t give him an excuse. If you do you’re the fool.

  • Arthur Sido May 18, 2019, 9:55 pm

    This is exactly why I have no intention of informing an officer that I am legally carrying if I am not required to by law. It just creates more opportunity for something to go wrong. If I am not breaking the law (other than possibly a traffic violation), why would I want to invite a cop to start rooting around in my car, frisking me and possibly taking possession of my legally possessed firearm? There seems to be far more chance of something going wrong if I am getting in and out of the car.

    • TexDad May 20, 2019, 5:31 am

      100% agree

    • SD December 30, 2019, 10:06 pm

      One piece of advice. You’ve heard of the old saying “It’s not what you say it’s how you say it”. If you tell an officer you have a gun, use some common sense. Don’t say “I have a gun”. Let him know in a more subtle way. Politely say “Sir, I have a CWP and I’m currently carrying”. Be sure your hands are in plain sight and away from your weapon at the time in a non threatening manner. It’s just common sense.

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