Maintaining a gun blog brings in a lot of questions. I get emails and tweets from readers (mostly women) who have come across my articles/posts and have questions either about my views or about what they should do to get a gun. One of the questions I have been seeing recently is whether or not I would advise people to tell a cop that they have a gun in the car when they get pulled over. Honestly, I have thought long and hard about this and the best answer I can give is that it depends on the situation. In the end, you are the one who can and should make the decision. Sometimes officers appreciate that you are honest about having a weapon, while sadly others use it to further abuse power.
I came across an article on Fox News. A mother who had recently purchased a .380 handgun for defense and received her concealed carry permit was arrested on October 1. Now she is hoping that the jury will take her side, otherwise she will spend 3 years in prison for unlawful possession of a weapon.
She has had no prior criminal record and told the cop that she had a gun in the vehicle as soon as she was pulled over. She also had her concealed carry permit with her and gave that to the officer as well. Even though she felt she was doing the right thing, she was denied acceptance into a diversionary program and sent to prison.
This is something I am usually very concerned about. Living so close to DC and Maryland, there are plenty of areas where I could mistakingly take the wrong exit coming home from the range and end up in an area where guns are not allowed. I’ve imagined this very situation numerous times and wondered what I would do. Honestly, I don’t know if I would tell them or not. When I travel, I have my gun locked, separated from ammo, and in my trunk where I can’t get to it. Without probable cause, they have no right to look through my vehicle at any given point. Then I think “well, the whole reason I have a gun is to protect myself. What if someone attacks me when I’m in my car? My gun won’t help me much being locked away.” It’s very tricky and very intimidating. The best thing I can say is to learn, study, eat, sleep, and breathe the local and state laws. Know them better than you know the back of your hand. Analyze the situation and do what you think is best. It could have been that this woman got nervous and said “I have a gun!”. I don’t know, but I know it’s possible.
If you decide to tell the officer that you are armed, I would advise saying the following:
Officer, I want to let you know that I have a concealed carry permit in this state and am currently have one on my person. How would you like me to proceed?
At the end of the day, cops are human too. They just want to get back to their family and be safe.
Have you ever been in a situation where you were pulled over with a gun in the car?