Richard Douglas: Tips When Stopped By Police and Carrying a Firearm

A routine traffic stop can become ugly fast if you don’t know the right way to handle it.

Police, especially today, have an increased concern for anyone armed (other than them), and the old advice of telling the officer: “I have a gun” will usually not end well for you.

That’s why in today’s article, I’m going to cover:

  • 3 tips for the right and wrong way to handle a traffic stop when you’re carrying
  • How to handle being asked to step out of your vehicle when you’re carrying
  • Cool video showing EXACTLY how it’s done

Without further ado, let’s get started.

The Scenario

You’ve got your SHTF guns or your hunting rifle equipped with a 6.5 Creedmoor scope and you’re ready. But if you’re driving while carrying a firearm, traffic stops can get tricky…fast. There are good ways and bad ways to handle this, and you need to know the best way.

Guns & Ammo Host Tom Gresham and Lethal Force Institute’s Massad Ayoob give us the best how-to’s for handling a traffic stop when you’re carrying.

In the U.S. every state has its own laws about firearms. Knowing the laws in your state is the crucial first step.

FIRST TIP – Your License For Carrying A Firearm

When you hand the officer your license, registration, and proof of insurance, include your carry permit.

This is a more “relaxed” way to inform the officer you’re carrying, and have the documentation to do so.

It signals to the officer that you know what you’re doing, take gun ownership and carrying a firearm seriously, and should help lower his or her concerns.

Also, it helps keep this fact between you and the officer, which, if you’re in a crowded area, is usually a GOOD thing! 

Being heard saying “I have a gun” to a policeman can get folks upset nowadays.

Arizona, Texas, and Michigan requires you inform any police officer you encounter when you’re carrying.

This is the best way to handle letting them know.

In the video, the presenter asks the officer how he’d respond to someone saying “I have a gun,” and the officer pretends to draw his weapon and replies “me too.”

Obviously something to avoid.

Another important part of this tip pointed out in the video: An experienced police officer may not get ruffled when you say the word “gun.” But what about his rookie sidekick fresh from the academy?

His reaction to the word “gun” might get things rolling down a bad path for you both.

SECOND TIP – Step Out of The Vehicle

What do you do if the officer asks you to step out of the vehicle?

This is where things get a little bit tricky.

Trying to hand the officer your permit and license, etc. at this point could seem like non-compliance to the officer, and you do not want that!

The best bet according to the video is to inform the officer (before you move from the car):

“I’m licensed to carry, I have my license, and I am carrying. What would you like me to do?”

This gives the officer some peace of mind, because it again shows you know what you’re doing, and that you’re one of the “good guys” who knows how to use his firearm properly.

Remember that he or she doesn’t know you, or what you might be thinking about doing with that firearm.

THIRD TIP – Use Your Body Language

Keep your hands visible and away from your firearm. It sounds obvious, but please don’t make any sudden, or fast movements.

You might be nervous, too. And it’s important to remember to act as calmly and precisely as you can.

Be smart. Use your body language to tell the officer he or she is safe — you are NOT going to even touch your firearm.

Some officers will “secure” your weapon, some won’t. Either way, be calm. It’s only going to help you.

Don’t remove your seat belt until the officer tells you to. Here’s the video source for this article:

And that’s it! Now I’d like to hear from you:

Have you ever been pulled over while carrying a firearm? If so, what was your experience?

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10 thoughts on “Richard Douglas: Tips When Stopped By Police and Carrying a Firearm

    • I assume you also give this advice to the cops as well. Scary with almost a million peace officers out there, and the bulk of them armed, not to mention rifles in the car, and they all just might go off at random???

      Sounds really scary!

      • Interesting comment. If one would look at the number of bystanders shot on average by New York Police Officer’s each year I think many would agree with you. I’ve been told that most police officers don’t care that much about guns and many of officers fail firearms qualifications each year and have to go for remedial training.
        Wonder how many bystanders are shot in shootings that involve “civilians” who are defending themselves or others?

      • Alan, I was just bringing light to the amazing intellectual laziness of Jim.

        If you stand for gun control, and you were smart enough to get through medical school, you should know better than to spout off idiotic drek like that.

        It shows that the gun control debate (at least on the anti-gun side) is not an intellectual one.

    • Dr. Megan Ranney, a Brown Univ. ER doc I converse with online, just posted a link to a Providence, RI article about a guy who was sitting in bed fooling with a pistol and succeeded in shooting himself in the scrotum. My comment about the utility of the Darwin Award notwithstanding, one has to ALWAYS take firearms seriously, whether in a car or home or anywhere. If you can’t figure out how to own and handle guns safely, its best not to own them.

      As some have said, sooner or later they go off. You want to control how and when they go off rather than the converse.Now, I better live up to that advice or I will be deserving of the howls of laughter I get when I shoot my own private bits off.

      • It’s absolutely true. I actually flipped an anti-gun doctor with that one. Pointed out that statistically he’d kill more people than my guns ever will.

        I’ll bet good money Jim has more wrongful deaths under his belt than all of us gunnies he he holds to such contempt.

  1. Good essay and that video is one I recommend to anyone who asks. Thank you, Richard.

    Only stopped once while carrying. I was 21 and headed back to my off campus apartment in Rochester from my parent’s house outside Buffalo on my motorcycle with my Ithaca Model 37 shotgun in its original box strapped to the passenger seat with a couple of shock cords. A NY State Trooper pulled me over. He asked for my license and registration and insurance card, which I provided. Never even asked me about the shotgun. We both went happily on our way. Not sure why he stopped me except sometimes they just stopped motorcyclists to see if we had our MC endorsement.

    Punch line is that was out in the country in Upstate NY during the 1970’s when such a scenerio did not raise a red flag, so to speak. One has to also ask what the context will be and that nowadays, people, including cops, might be more wary of someone with a gun. Especially a hand cannon.

    Think carefully when you carry.

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