Traffic Stop + Concealed Handgun = Recipe For Disaster?

The following is a video transcript.

Most of us have experienced being stopped by the police for some minor traffic violation, but what if you have your license or permit to carry a concealed handgun? Does this change how an officer handles the investigation? What about your firearm? Can they take your handgun from you just for speeding?

In our previous videos, we’ve discussed the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution: search warrants and their exceptions. In this video, we’ll explore if and when a police officer can disarm you during a traffic stop.

A police officer may legally search an arrested person or any place within a person’s immediate control for weapons and evidence of a crime. This wingspan rule is based on a concern for officers’ safety.

What about a person who is temporarily detained for a traffic infraction?

In most states, a police officer can temporarily disarm a person during an official investigation. This is especially true in those states where you must immediately disclose that you have a concealed handgun license or permit at the beginning of a traffic stop.

First Aid for Gunshot Wounds 2A Institute

When you’re stopped by police, if you have your license or permit to carry and your handgun is on your person or in your vehicle, your best option is to keep both hands on the wheel and let the officer know that you have a firearm.

Next, you want to follow their instructions. Some police officers will ask that you step out of the vehicle to locate the firearm, unload it, and keep it for the duration of the traffic stop. It should then promptly be returned to you. It is also common for a police officer to unload and potentially disassemble your firearm before returning it to you. Other officers may tell you, “Just keep your hands away from your firearm,” and continue with the routine traffic stop. This will depend on the state you are in and the temperament of the police officer.

Most of the time, your firearm is returned to you, but can an officer actually seize your weapon and take it back with them to the police station?

Well, it depends. If the weapon itself is evidence of an alleged crime, then the gun will likely be seized, unloaded, bagged and tagged as evidence while you enjoy a ride back to the police station.

If your firearm is seized as evidence, will you get it back? Whether or not your firearm is returned to you at the end of your court case is going to depend on the outcome. Most states will not return a firearm once it is seized as evidence unless the case is dismissed or a jury finds a person not guilty of an alleged crime. Additionally, a court order to return the firearm may be required. In either scenario, the return can take years.

If you have any questions about whether a police officer can disarm you and seize your weapon, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

First Aid for Gunshot Wounds 2A Institute

Comment section

4 comments on “Traffic Stop + Concealed Handgun = Recipe For Disaster?

  1. In Florida, when stopped for a traffic incident you put both hands on the wheel and advise the officer that you are licensed to carry a concealed weapon and that you have a firearm in the car/on your person.
    In my experience the officer will advise you not to go near the firearm and will go on with the purpose of the traffic stop.
    As long as you were not doing anything excessive like doing 100 mph or driving recklessly having the firearm in your position will not be a problem.

  2. Police officer comfort is paramount for me. Especially now a days. Ive been stopped several times with weapon in tow. Once I come to a complete stop I take out my licenses’ role down my window and stick both hands out the window. If I have a passenger I tell them to grab the headrest behind them. My weapon was taken once for the duration of the stop. I might add, I was never given a speeding ticket.

  3. I feel the fact that you have a concealed permit can put the officer at ease. He does need to do a background check to know your not a serious threat. If you are honest, that a nice start to the conversation.

  4. During a traffic stop, (especially if you have tinted windows like we do here in Florida) it’s always a good idea to lower your side window in the back of car so police officer can see in back seat as he approaches, whether someone is in the back on not.
    If stopped at night, turn interior light on so LEO can see the back seat and floorboard clearly. He/she will appreciate it.

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