This is the last handgun scenario, and in a lot of ways the most likely to occur, as well as the most realistic.
In Tennessee it is not a legal requirement to inform a law enforcement officer of your carry permit and armed status. (In some states it is – so know your law). However, I believe it is a good idea. Like my CCW vs Open carry video I am making a distinction between your rights and what is the response that is most likely to shorten rather than lengthen your encounter with the police. If you choose not to inform them then that’s your right and your judgment, just know if they find out they will revert to their training and have to decide wither you are a threat to them before they can resume the discussion.
I commute some distance to work, and have gotten pulled over for speeding on more than one occasion. I will describe my response to illustrate the mindset I have as well as to help you see why it works.
First as soon as I see the lights I let loose a mental expletive – I know I shouldn’t but I do… Then I forget it – do not get mad – they are doing their job, and I know I was in the wrong – from that point until I am driving everything is geared toward getting back on the road and not being locked up in the cruiser…
I hit my turn signals to show I saw them and am pulling over, I find a spot off of the road wide enough for my car and the patrol car. If this is not immediately available I want the officer to know I am not running… I do not try to put my seatbelt on, get my papers, or throw out my cigarette (Don’t tell my wife, but after a hard day I may smoke a cigar to relax) – the officer can see your shoulders move and too much movement may make him think your being evasive.
I pull over far enough so that the officer can use his car as a shield against traffic. Some departments have to officer come from the passenger side due to several cops being killed by passing cars. Getting out of the patrol car on a busy highway is dangerous, and being considerate to the officer’s safety helps start building a sense of safety in the cop – REMEMBER if he sees you as a threat you may see the muzzle of his gun…
I keep my hands on the wheel so he can see them, and I wait until he knocks on my door to roll down the window. (I do not roll it down all the way for legal reasons, but enough to converse with the officer. I also replace my hands on the wheel after I roll down the window.)
I wait for the officer to speak (also for legal reasons I do not answer the part about do you know why I pulled you over – if you tell him then you are admitting a criminal act, if you say no your lying about it)… When he asks me for license and registration I say, “officer, before I comply, I need to inform you I have a carry permit and my firearm is located ____, what do you want me to do?” Even if I am not armed I say “Officer, when you run my license you will see I have a carry permit, I want to let you know I don’t have a firearm in the vehicle but I wouldn’t want you to think I was hiding that from you”. I used to have a vehicle with a police and highway patrol frequencies; it is pretty standard for dispatch to inform the officer that you have a carry permit when they run your driver’s license. He is going to find out, by telling him first you:
Let him know you’re not hiding anything
You are concerned for his safety
You’re not a felon, a drug abuser, or crazy
If also shows you know how to play the game, understand a little about cops, and have enough disposable income to get a carry permit – basically that you’re a good guy and not worth the hassle…
I then get my papers for the officer
If they are in my glove box I leave it open to show I am not hiding anything
If they are in my center console I shut it so they don’t have to watch to see if I try to slip my hand in to get a weapon.
Remember, police do not know you; they are trained formally, as well as socially not to trust you. The quicker you prove to them that you are no threat the quicker they want to end the incident so they can get back to their work. The vast majority of the cops I know do not have a problem with law abiding citizens owning firearms, and don’t really want to be seen as the bad guy. However, they will give you a ticket in a heartbeat if you deserve one.
In my experience, by following these simple steps I get a “If I give you a warning, do you think you can slow down” more than a “by signing this you are not admitting guilt, just acknowledging that you have received a ticket.”
This is my two cents, based upon my personal experience, as well as social discussions with several cops over the years. The principles that I describe can be applied to any encounter you have with the police. As the video says (before the Department of Safety changed it) – Cops are trained to react to the sight of a gun, and they will…
I think this kind of what would you do training is invaluable to preparing a person to carry a gun for self defense. If you never work on handgun scenario training you will have to work through the situation when it occurs – this will waste precious seconds and may cause you to do the wrong thing. Please look at the post on OODA loop for more information.