We have all been there: driving down the road, when suddenly a flash of lights appear in your rear view mirror. Whether it was for speeding or a busted taillight, you pull over and contemplate how you will respond to the officer when he or she reaches your window.
Your ID is in your lap, window is down, and your hands are on the wheel. At this moment, you remember the gun on your hip or possibly even in the seat next to you. How do you handle this situation? Do you stay quiet and hope the officer never notices, or do you tell him immediately? If you tell him, will that make him nervous?
I interviewed Georgia State Patrolman John Daniel, who is quite popular for his messages to the public on safety. Here is what he had to say:
Q: Should the driver tell you that they are carrying?
A: Absolutely! Do they have to? No, but it does bring peace of mind knowing that there is a weapon present. Also in the times I have encountered this and made aware of the weapon the traffic stop has went better and as long as things checked out ok, I often times end the stop with a warning and thank the persons involved.
Q: When should they tell you?
A: The most ideal time would be after the Officer makes his initial contact. Maybe before you retrieve your license just advise the officer that you have a weapon and would like to know what way is best for the rest of the stop to be handled.
Q: How can the driver safely let you know this, without making you feel threatened?
A: Just a simple acknowledgement, “Hey I do have a weapon on me or in the vehicle”
Q: What should the driver not ever do, under any circumstances?
A: Sudden and quick movements could startle the officer. If you have made known of a weapon, don’t reach for it or reach for it as you are telling the officer.
Q: What could happen if the driver does not tell you about the firearm, and you find out about it or see it?
A: It could lead to a more in depth investigation. The fewer the surprises the better the entire encounter goes for all involved.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: It takes us (officer and citizen) working together to make our daily lives safer. So when the time comes and the interaction between the officer and citizen happens, we can make it go smooth by being up front about any weapons being on you or in the vehicle. Because at the end of the day we want it to go well so that we all make it back home safely.
So now you have an officer’s perspective on how to handle the situation, if you are ever pulled over while carrying your gun.
As stated above, Trooper Daniel often gives public messages on weather and safety for the community. Here is his latest video:
For more, you can visit the Georgia Department of Public Safety Facebook page.