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Posted: 1/31/2002 1:14:51 PM EDT
A question for the LEOs who do traffic stops: A few months ago I was driving a bit too fast in a residential neighbourhood (no excuses, I was doing it). I was pulled over after passing an officer with a radar gun. When the officer approached, I had the engine off (it was a nice day, so no climate control issues applied); the windows were already down. It was mid-day, so there was plenty of light. I had my hands at 11 and 1 o'clock on the wheel. When the officer asked if I knew how fast I was going, I said, "not exactly, but probably too fast, officer." When asked for my license and registration, I told him (politely) that I had a CCW permit, and was carrying a handgun. Immediately he became aggressive. He took a step back from my window, and asked where the gun was. "On my right side, in an IWB holster." He asked where my wallet was. "In my left rear pocket." At this point my hands were still on the wheel. He told me to retrieve my wallet, which I did, slowly. I opened it, one-handed, and slid my DL and CCW permit out with my thumb, and handed them to him. He asked where my vehicle registration was. "In the center-console glovebox, beneath my right elbow." (If I *had* a passenger-side glovebox, I'd use it, but the Camaro IROC is lacking such a handy thing). Then he asked for my gun. At this point, I became very worried, because there's no way to pull a gun from an IWB SOB holster without gripping it as if to use it. But. He asked for it, and I wasn't sure of the legalities about it, so I complied. Slowly and calmly, I reached down with my right hand, drew the gun (keeping my fingers outside the trigger guard the whole time). Once it was clear of the holster and visible, I turned it so that it was upright, pointing away from the officer, and I verified that the safety was engaged. I said, "It's loaded, chambered, hammer down, safety on, officer." He reached in and took it with his left hand, which caused it to naturally point at the front passenger seat. Then he removed it from my vehicle, allowing the muzzle to cover my lower abdomen on the way out. I was *very* unhappy about that. He went back to his motorcycle, presumably to call in my info. When he came back, he asked me what my job was, and why (as a Software Engineer) I felt the need to carry a gun. Then he asked where my friends lived, and if I felt like I needed to carry a gun when I visited them. I felt like these questions were *way* out of line. Virginia's a shall-issue state, so the only justification I need for having a CCW permit is that I want one. Eventually, he gave my my gun back, wrote me a ticket for 37 in a 25 zone, and let me go. But I really didn't like the way his attitude shifted when I (following the guidelines on the county police department website) told him I was carrying. If I'd been a bad guy, I wouldn't have said a thing. So. For the LEOs out there, is there anything I should have done differently? Or did I just catch him on a bad day? I seem to attract police attention regularly (part of it, I know, is the car...a matte-black Camaro IROC looks like trouble on wheels). I imagine the long hair doesn't help, but still, I would expect that without probable cause, I have a reasonable expectation of not being treated like a suspect. Thoughts? -BP
Link Posted: 1/31/2002 7:43:59 PM EDT
I don't know, that doesn't sound like how I would have handled it, or liked to see it handled. Personally, I like to have someone have someone tell me that they are CCW, either on the person or in the car, before I see it. (me seeing the gun before hearing about it, with some exceptions, is going to have a significantly different reaction.) I then ask where the gun is, and probably go through a slow process to get the driver's license and other paperwork. I then ask the person to keep their hands where I can see them from my patrol car,(varies based on type of vehicle) and return to my car for my paperwork. I try to assume everybody I talk to is carrying until I know otherwise. When somebody is willing to tell me they are carrying, (and have a valid CCW) I feel fairly secure that they are a "good guy." Doesn't mean I let my guard down, but I'm also not overly concerned, and don't see the point in taking control of the firearm. Transferring an unknown weapon around a car is something I prefer to avoid. Also, I have had people come back having a CCW permit, without them telling me at the first contact that they do. In Colorado, to my understanding, there is no requirement to notify. When I go back up, I do ask if they are CCW, and let them know that I prefer to know upfront. Most people are very receptive, and just have never received guidance on what to do when stopped. To me, sounds like you handled it well, and possibly caught someone who didn't know how to handle it, or isn't comfortable with the idea of just anybody having a CCW permit. Just my opinion! dp
Link Posted: 1/31/2002 8:23:07 PM EDT
It sounds like you did fine. Remember there are some officers out there who believe only they should carry firearms. Although it makes us somewhat nervous knowing there is a gun in any car, for the most part if they tell us, they have gun, usually there is no worries. What bad guy is going to freely admit that there is a pistol in their vehicle? The one time that I pulled someone over who had a CCW, I was notified by dispatch and upon approaching he showed me his ID's. Then, told me where it was located (in his boot). He was an old cowboy and I felt reasonably comfortable with his appearance and his compliance with state law, that there wasn't going to be a problem. I would not have handled it that way and it's a shame that you had to be put through it.
Link Posted: 1/31/2002 8:27:15 PM EDT
I'm with dpcop. I like to see citizens with CCW's, and all I ever do is ask them if they are armed, where the gun is, and please not to reach for or handle it during our contact. I don't have them hand it to me for several reasons: 1. It causes them to put their hand on the gun 2. Increases the chance of an accident 3. Why do I want their gun if they are carrying legally? Unless they start going sideways for some reason, I see no reason to disarm them. Never heard of a CCW-having civilian assaulting a cop. Heard of lots of them saving some hapless cop's bacon on a traffic stop gone bad, though. Sounds like you ran into a guy who doesn't think 'mere civilians' should be allowed to carry guns. Too bad. The questions he asked you were definitely out of line. As far as having long hair and driving a certain kind of car, the fact is you are more likely to get looked over than someone with short hair, maybe cleaner cut, in a different kind of car. Why? Because a higher percentage of dopers look like that and drive certain kinds of cars. Fair? Probably not. Life? You bet. However, just because the officer might be looking harder for indicators of drugs or other criminal activity does NOT mean you should be treated with any less courtesy than someone with short hair driving a BMW.
Link Posted: 2/4/2002 3:21:51 PM EDT
Thanks to all who've responded. I know it's got to be a nerve-wracking thing to approach a vehicle not knowing who or what is going to greet you. I mostly wanted to make sure that I wasn't doing something blatantly wrong, because (with the exception of this one guy) every cop I've ever been pulled over by has treated me professionally and courteously, but this was the first time I'd been stopped while carrying, so I was hoping the difference wasn't *because* of that...
Originally Posted By Sparky315: I don't have them hand it to me for several reasons: 1. It causes them to put their hand on the gun 2. Increases the chance of an accident
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Those were my primary concerns as well. I can't for the life of me figure out a way to get a gun out of an IWB SOB holster that *doesn't* involve gripping it as if to fire; any less-firm grip leads you into pitfall #2, likelyhood of accident. And really, the officer put himself at a huge risk, in my opinion, simply because if I *had* been a bad guy, by asking me to draw my gun he gave me about two seconds of preparation time I would not have otherwise had if I'd wanted to shoot him. His hand was not on his weapon, and if I'd wanted to shoot him, I was a lot closer to being able to with my weapon out, than I would have been having to reach behind me in a bucket seat to get it...
As far as having long hair and driving a certain kind of car, the fact is you are more likely to get looked over than someone with short hair, maybe cleaner cut, in a different kind of car. Why? Because a higher percentage of dopers look like that and drive certain kinds of cars. Fair? Probably not. Life? You bet.
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Eh, well, I know that profiling of this sort happens, and I actually don't mind all that much. I know it's technically discrimination, but, well, discrimination is something that's bad only, IMHO, when it's based upon something that a person can't choose. I choose to look the say I do, knowing it will lead to a bit more attention from LEOs. As long as I only have to deal with honest cops, that's fine. I've been pulled over twice, by state troopers in two different states, on suspicion of being a drug courier. Both times, I was released after a brief roadside discussion. Both times, I was treated courteously. (Although the time I got pulled over in South Carolina, I was really glad the cop was a lady, because if a guy had frisked me that...thoroughly...I'd have taken exception). The fact that the Camaro's painted matte black certainly doesn't help. The fact that it has windows as darkly-tinted as VA law allows doesn't help, either. I imagine the long hair and the ear-ring and the penchant for black leathers are marks against me, as well. I get *much* less attention when I'm in my '98 Dakota, wearing a suit, with my hair in a ponytail. The "Clergy" sticker in the window might have something to do with it, too. -BP, scruffier-looking than he actually is.
Link Posted: 2/5/2002 3:37:01 AM EDT
Maybe its different in other states, but when I stop someone (normal traffic stop) and they inform me they have a CHL (shall-issue state), I ask to see the license. We usually chat pleasantly for awhile about guns, and they get a verbal warning for the traffic violation. I have gotten a few nice letters from citizens, which go on the "good" side of my IA jacket, for this. The only times I have disarmed a CHL was when there was a more serious investigation going on during my stop, like suspected DWI or a disturbance. Then, I wait for additional officers, and I take responsibility for physically taking control of the weapon. Asking someone to hand you a weapon is a bad idea, in my opinion. If there turns out to be no criminal violation, we part as pleasantly as possible, and I return the unloaded weapon, usually by setting it on the passenger seat while the carrier is out of the vehicle.
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