Hey Mr. Officer........
This blog lists 8 tips for dealing with law enforcement during a traffic stop. These tips are from my personal experiences and conversations with law enforcement. Let me preface this blog by saying I realize law enforcement relationships are tense right now and I do not intend to incite anger or hate with this blog. I’m just sharing these tips because I want you to all to make it home safe.
*I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice*
- Know your state gun laws. You need to know if you MUST notify the officer that you are in possession of a firearm. In the state of GA you do not have to inform the officer that you have a firearm (see GA penal codes 16-11-125.1 through 16-11-135). You DO need to have your carry permit with you if you are carrying your firearm. You also need to know how your firearm is supposed to be legally stored in your vehicle. Check out (www.gunstocarry.com) for gun laws in your state.
- If you are NOT legally required to inform the officer AND the firearm is not in plain view then I’d suggest you don’t inform them especially if it’s just a simple traffic stop. Firearms always complicate the situation. Just be sure you don’t make any sudden movements.
- If you are legally required to inform the officer then you need to calmly tell them where the firearm is EARLY in the conversation AND tell them the condition of the firearm (loaded, unloaded etc.). Explain this verbally. Do not move or use hand gestures while explaining where your firearm is. Keep your hands on the steering wheel during the entire stop.
- Do not keep your firearm and drivers license in the same place. It never looks good when you open your glove box to get your I.D. and a firearm falls out. I usually keep my firearm holstered on my person while driving. Also keep all of your ammo, magazines or gun paraphernalia in one confined space or inside of something that can’t be easily seen. Having magazines and cases of ammo spread out over your back seat looks really odd to someone who doesn’t know that you’re a firearms instructor headed to teach a class....been there, done that :-)
- Roll down all of your windows and turn the interior vehicle light on if it’s dark. The officer has no clue what you have going on in your vehicle when they stop you. The more they can see, the better. This lets them know that you have nothing to hide.
- Check your local laws but for the most part, it’s legal to film/record your traffic stop. HOWEVER, you need to have that phone/camera situated and already recording BEFORE the officer gets out of their vehicle and starts approaching yours. Them seeing you move around and fiddle with objects as they’re approaching the vehicle looks suspect. They don’t know that you’re grabbing a phone. In their mind you could be grabbing your firearm.
- Law Enforcement is trained to assess aka judge everything about your vehicle. They’re looking at the maintenance level of the car, they’re checking out your bumper stickers, your personalized tag, and your custom license plate frame. So if you drive a pickup truck with “Come and take it” and “NRA” bumper stickers then they might assess that you’re a gun owner. Keep this in mind when you’re thinking about informing them about your firearm.
- If you feel like your rights have been violated or the officer did anything wrong during the stop DO NOT argue with them on the side of the road. Most of the time they introduce themselves so you’ll have their name. If you get a ticket then their info will be somewhere on the ticket. Save their info somewhere and take detailed notes of what happened during the stop. You are allowed to take these notes to the department and file a complaint. If the situation was serious then you can pursue legal action at a later date BUT remember that you will not win a court case on the side of the road. Your life is not worth winning an argument!