Unlike Philando Castile, the concealed carry permit holder shot by police in Minnesota yesterday while allegedly reaching for his wallet during a traffic stop, I have survived two encounters with authorities while armed. Once was because of equipment failure in a car and the other for speeding on my motorcycle. This is my advice on dealing with such situations and come out alive, at least in Oregon. Other states may have different specific laws.
First of all, I belong to the ruling class skin color. That’s of no benefit pointing out to anyone who isn’t, but it’s a privilege I’ve enjoyed, most valuably during that brief, grimy sliver of life when a police officer is deciding to either stay cool or unload four hollow points into you. As we should all know by now, Black and Brown people end up dead far more often following minor encounters with law enforcement.
My next tip is practical and something anyone can use. The officer who taught my Concealed Handgun License class years ago called the CHL a “Good Guy” card and said most cops who see it will immediately relax. It means the person they are interacting with passed a background check recently and probably doesn’t get into trouble.
However, just because someone keeps the card in their wallet doesn’t mean they should broadcast the fact up front. My instructor assured us that some officers are oversensitive and even if a sentence begins: “Sorry for speeding. I have a gun and the permit for it…” there’s a chance the only thing they heard is “I have a GUN” and take your words as a threat.
There’s no legal need to even let an Oregon cop know at all, however, I was told sharing that information is a curtesy most will appreciate. Still, some strategy is involved. First, don’t use the word GUN period. Don’t even mention the subject at first. During a traffic stop, running your license plate may turn up the information, but unless the officer brings it up initially, keep quiet on the issue.
Next, when the officer asks for your drivers license, hand it over, but pass the CHL along with it. That way the news comes with a symbol of your compliance and there’s no chance of being misunderstood. The next question will probably be if you are armed currently. After this, you’re best using your own judgment, but obviously keep still and avoid making quick movements or being a smartass. It’s about surviving, not exercising the 1st Amendment.
The first time this happened to me, the cop was very jovial and wanted to chat firearms with me immediately. My card immediately put him at ease. Best case scenario. The second time I wasn’t as fortunate. The officer got very tense upon seeing my CHL and asked to take my pistol while we conversed. I wasn’t under arrest or any obligation to let him, but I submitted anyway. Judgment call. He reached into my pocket, removed the 9mm handgun and put it in his car, returning it after writing out the speeding ticket.
Those are my only first hand experiences, but stories I’ve heard from others are similar. If you carry, be smart about it, not just during law enforcement encounters. We live in a world where people are treated very differently because of how they look and sometimes that has fatal consequences. Don’t become the next tragic cell phone video.
“There’s no legal need to even let a cop know at all…”
While this is true in some areas, others are “must inform.” For example, it is not required in Georgia, but it is required in South Carolina (which just implemented reciprocity with Georgia last month). Thus, it’s important to be informed of the local laws when in other areas.
Here’s a good resource: http://www.handgunlaw.us/
I agree with a lot of the article, “except”, “do not inform the officer”. I, too, had been in many situations. I always informed them. I tell them “Officer, please do not be alrmed, I have a FIREARM in the car. Most of the police I came across, are form, but this is because they are cautious.
Everyone knowing that police shooting people is getting more common, I just cant understand why people get aggressive and do not comply to police officer’s command-instruction
If a cop tells you to show your hands, do not reach for anything, not even a wallet. If a cop tells you to get on the ground, do not resist.
A shooting or taking a life, in many religious groups is not justified. But people ought to understand cops are ready to shoot, people should be in compliance. Don’t resist the cop, get to court and resist the system
Some police are like rattlesnakes, why antagonize them
Good point! I should have been more insistent that my specific advice is only good in Oregon. I’ll change that…
There are a few flaws with this article; “As we should all know by now, Black and Brown people end up dead far more often following minor encounters with law enforcement.”THIS IS INCORRECT
According to statistics collected by the Washington Post recently, it’s a 2.5 higher ratio, only counting Black people, not even other non-White populations. But you don’t need official numbers. Even just based on my own personal experiences versus that of my Black and Brown friends with law enforcement, its a crisis level disparity. A person must be severely out of touch socially and politically to not recognize such basic systemic racism in the US.