The state of Arizona has added language to its driver’s manual on how to respond to police during a traffic stop if drivers have guns with them. Here at U.S. LawShield of Oklahoma, we think that passing along such advice is a capital idea, and we wish to relate how Arizona is advising its armed drivers to react—and expand on that advice for our Sooner State Members.
The Arizona Driver License Manual now advises “… drivers with firearms in the vehicle should keep your hands on the steering wheel in a visible location, and when the officer approaches, let the officer know that you have a firearm in the vehicle and where the firearm is located. If requested, the officer may take possession of the weapon, for safety reasons, until the contact is complete.”
“This is fine as far as it goes,” says U.S LawShield Independent Program Attorney Robert Robles. “But I would like to expand on this. Here’s a checklist to keep you safe during a traffic stop when you have a gun in the car.”
1: Don’t Be Provocative
If you keep a firearm in your automobile, you should not allow yourself the luxury of losing your temper while driving. It is our experience that if you do, you are putting yourself at a significant risk of arrest even if you have done nothing illegal.
2: Don’t Display Your Firearm
Oklahoma law does not allow a person to intentionally display a firearm in response to being cut off by another car, being almost hit by another car on the freeway, or in response to provocation from another driver which does not amount to an immediate threat of death or bodily injury. In other words, if the other driver is just being a jerk, a bad driver, or both—you cannot display a firearm in response.
There have been numerous occasions where our Members have been involved in a traffic incident and the other driver calls 911. This driver then proceeds to speculate and make vague allegations. For example: “He pointed something that looked like a gun!”, “She put an object on the dashboard to intimidate me!”, or “I think they may have a gun!”
As a matter of standard procedure, the police will be dispatched. In our experience, if the police pull someone over under these circumstances and the driver does in fact have a legal firearm in their possession after this exchange of “roadway pleasantries,” they will likely be arrested with little or no evidence.
3: During the Stop
When you have an encounter in a traffic stop, keep your hands on the steering wheel.
4: Wait for the Officer
Wait for the police officer to come to the car, come to you, and ask you for your driver’s license, your liability insurance, your registration or any other official documents.
5: Disclose the Presence of a Firearm
Tell the police officer immediately, as you’re required under the Oklahoma statutes, that you are armed if, in fact, you are armed. If you’re not armed, you do not have to say anything about a concealed carry license.
6: Obey His Commands
When you tell the police officer you are armed, he will tell you either let me see your license or he will make some other response. Obey his command. Show him your license, as you’re required to have your license with you at all times.
7: Disclose If Passengers Are Armed
If you have passengers who are armed, tell the police officer. Always make sure that you know who is armed in your car.
8: Tell the Officer About Stored Firearms
If you have a gun in your car that is not in your possession, such as in the glove box or in the center console or in the trunk, feel free to tell the police officer if there are guns in the car, and he will ask you where are they and you tell them. You only have to show the police your concealed carry permit when he asks to see it.
9: Don’t Display a Firearm Unless Asked
If you happen to wonder if you have to show the police officer your gun, you don’t have to show him your gun unless requested. Under the statutes the only time a police officer can take your gun, examine it, remove the bullets, anything like that, is when he believes that there are other crimes going on. The police officer has to have probable cause to believe that you are DUI, you have possession of contraband, or something illegal is happening, such as you’re a fleeing felon from the scene of a bank robbery or some major crime.
10: No Warrant Needed for a Search
The police do not need a warrant to search your car or search your person. It’s called stop and frisk. It’s the Terry vs. Ohio exception to the warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment. Do not tell the police officer to get a warrant because he’ll probably handcuff you, detain you, and do other unpleasant things. Remember, there is no warrant required for a police officer to stop and search, and this is an exception to the Fourth Amendment on that issue.