As a gun owner, you have a number of important responsibilities to keep yourself and others safe. If you plan on transporting or carrying a firearm in your vehicle at any time, it is imperative that you know how to react in the event that you’re pulled over by a police officer. After all, while there’s nothing wrong with carrying or transporting a firearm in your vehicle legally, there are some things you need to know for your own safety and the safety of the officer you encounter.
Know Your State’s Laws
Start with an understanding of your state’s “duty to inform” laws. In some states, you are legally required to tell a police officer if you have a weapon anywhere on your person or in your vehicle. In other states, you aren’t required to do this, but it’s generally a good idea to do so. Before you even think about getting into your vehicle with a firearm, make sure you’re aware of your state’s specific laws regarding this.
Don’t Make Any Sudden Moves
If you are pulled over, the best course of action is to pull over immediately, roll down your window, and keep your hands on your steering wheel until approached by an officer. By having your hands in plain sight, you’re showing respect for the officer’s safety.
Disclose the Firearm
Once the officer explains why you were pulled over, he or she will likely ask for your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. Before you reach for anything, this is a good time to verbally disclose to the officer that you’re either carrying a firearm or that there’s one in the car. If you have a concealed weapons permit, let the officer know that you are licensed, and also tell him or her where on your person the firearm is located without making any sudden movements or reaching for it.
Officers will appreciate your disclosure of the weapon and may proceed to have you reach slowly for your license, registration, and proof of insurance to continue with the traffic stop. This will vary from one officer to the next.
Offer Your Permit, if Required
There is a chance that the officer will also ask to see proof of your concealed weapons permit or firearm permit during the stop, so make sure to have this on you if you plan to carry a firearm in your car. Keep in mind that in most states, if you don’t have a concealed weapons permit, you will need to transport permitted firearms in the trunk of your vehicle. The weapon should be kept in a locked box during transport and should not be loaded.
Overall, being stopped by an officer and having a firearm in your car isn’t a huge deal so long as you’re legally carrying/transporting the firearm and properly disclose it to the officer. The most important thing is to know your responsibilities as a gun owner.
~ American Gun News