3 Ways a Police Officer Can Stop You in Florida While Carrying

Everyday innocent legal gun owners are questioned by police in public. Understand the three types of contact you will have with police, what your rights are during the contacts, and if you have to tell the officers you are carrying a firearm. 

Here at U.S. LawShield, whether it is a question to our phone line or a question at one of our Gun Law Seminars, the constant theme is interaction between law enforcement and a legally armed citizen.

The first step in solving any problem is accurate diagnosis of the problem. That’s what this little training video is about. The three types of contact you can have with law enforcement, especially if you’re armed.

  • Voluntary Contact
  • Involuntary Detention
  • Arrest

With that, let’s take a look at all three of these types of contact in detail.

First Aid for Gunshot Wounds 2A Institute

Voluntary Contact

So, I’m a legal gun owner and I am carrying in a public place. As I’m walking along, for some reason a police officer says he wants to have a chat. I’m a little confused about what my rights and responsibilities are. I’m not even sure what kind of contact this is. During this situation, I wish I had an Independent Program Attorney to advise me.

Thanks to Independent Program Attorney Richard Hayes walking by, I know I am involved in what’s called a voluntary contact. It’s based on the idea of consent, and a police officer just like any other regular person can walk up to you and ask you questions. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to stay and chat or just move on.

The question then becomes—in a voluntary contact do I have to tell the officer I’ve got a gun? In Florida, carrying a concealed firearm is a third-degree felony which is punishable with up to 5 years in prison unless you have a CFWL. When a law enforcement officer believes he or she has identified a firearm on you, he has no way of knowing whether or not you are a CWFL holder. Therefore, the officer will conduct an investigation to find out if you are committing a crime.

So, the bottom line on the voluntary contact is you can either talk or walk.

Involuntary Detention

This contact is very confusing. I’m a legal gun owner. I’m carrying legally in public, but a police officer stops me and asks for ID. He tells me stay right here and don’t go anywhere while he checks my ID and background. It sort of feels like an arrest but I don’t think it is. What does that law say about this?

This type of contact is called an involuntary detention. It seems like an arrest, but it’s not an arrest. It’s just temporary, and it’s based on the legal standard of reasonable suspicion or a reasonable articulable suspicion. That is, could an ordinary person can articulate or explain what they believe and why they believe it? They have to suspect that you have committed, or are about to commit a crime. So that’s what you’re being held for. It’s not an arrest; it’s an involuntary detention.

This raises the question—do I have to tell the officer about my gun?

In Florida, if an officer approaches you because he or she believes you are armed, you will need to cooperate with him or her. Immediately advise them that you do have a firearm on your person, the location of it, and that you are a CWFL holder.


I don’t need a lawyer to tell me when a police contact is called an arrest. An arrest is based on probable cause. That’s when the police can articulate that you probably committed a crime. You’re going to be restrained and you’re gonna be disarmed. If you’re being arrested, and you’re carrying your firearm, move at the officer’s speed. You’re going to be disarmed. Don’t reach for your firearm, and if you don’t understand any of their instructions, the only thing that should move is your mouth for clarification.

You should invoke your right to have an attorney advise you prior to questioning and invoke your right to remain silent. Actually say—I’m invoking my right to remain silent. If you don’t invoke your rights, they can use your post arrest silence against you.

When you’re a responsible legal gun owner carrying legally in public, you have far more concerns than an unarmed person does. Hopefully, this video helped you identify the type of police contacts that you might encounter, gave you some ideas on how to manage that contact, and hopefully gave you some tips on how you and that officer can separate safer and more effectively.

First Aid for Gunshot Wounds 2A Institute

Comment section

9 comments on “3 Ways a Police Officer Can Stop You in Florida While Carrying

  1. There’s no video. ?

    • Ross,

      Our apologies for the issues you were having. We have looked into it and the issue should be corrected. You can also view the video on our Youtube page at this link: https://youtu.be/zHhUMwUXyE4

      Thank you for supporting U.S. LawShield and if there is anything else we can do please let us know.

  2. In Florida you do not have to tell an officer that you are armed. IMO, that would depend on the situation.

  3. I appreciate having the transcript. I don’t have time to watch too many videos. And this was to good of info to miss! 😉

  4. Im a Bit confused in the Voluntary Contact Scenario.
    If a LEO approaches you because he has determined that you have a concealed Weapon or FireArm and they are Now taken into conducting the investigation as wether or Not you are breaking the Law. How can you Possible have the option to Talk or Walk ??
    This where you Need to Show Your Credentials and Your Permit to clear up any Assumption. Im 100% sure that if decide to Walk they will Shoot you Down, besides how else can they tell the Bad Guys from the Good Guys if you don’t cooparate with the Now so call investigation to determin
    that you are a Law Abiding Citizen.
    People Please read this Voluntary Contact colunm again and let me know if deciding to talk or Walk at this point in the conversation with the Police or LEO would make sense and Not get you Killed.

  5. Someone mentioned that in Florida you are Not Obligated to tell the Police or a LEO that you are carrying a Concealed Weapon or FireArm, but if the Police Approaches you Asking if You have a Concealed FireArm, whether cus They Noticed it or Someone reported you;

    Two things

    1st- It would be in your Best interest to Cooparate to Avoid the Escalation of the Situation to getting yourself killed.

    2nd- If the Police Noticed it or someone reported you as carrying a Weapon or FireArm on You, means that you Haven’t done a Good Job in Concealing it and its being Exposed which is already Breaking the Law on your Part.
    This happened to Me at the Miami Port dropping my family off to go on a Cruise to Mexico.
    I got of the car to offload the Bags from the Trunk, got me Arrested and Ended up going on a misdeaminor charge of three month going on court and having to do some Carrying Awareness Classes but at the End they Dropped the Charges once I Did the Classes.

  6. Do not volunteer information your not asked for. During an ordinary vehicle stop, don’t whip out your CCW or mention you have a gun. Open your windows so he/she or other can see you, and keep your hands on the wheel. If your instructed to step out of you vehicle, you should mention you have a CCW and are armed. You will be asked it’s location, but do not reach for it. You do not want a rookie finding a gun on you and yelling Gun!!!

  7. What about the sign at the seaport gate.
    Guns are prohibited on seaport property.
    You get out of easy.

  8. There is another scenario, contact as an involved party in an accident, crime scene, or other such situation. You contacted the police, and will need to talk to them when they arrive. I do not know if you are legally required to do so, but I inform them I am carrying.

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