Just The Tip: Pulled Over While Carrying

| July 12, 2016
Categories: Assorted Ramblings

Raven Concealment Systems

Just The Tip: Pulled Over While Carrying

Dave Merrill

We’ve all been there. Pulled over by law enforcement for a traffic infraction of some kind. Perhaps one of your headlights is out (my most recent stop), you didn’t see a stop sign or were speeding. Regardless of the reason or your guilt regarding the initial stop, having a firearm in the car may add a layer of complication and/or anxiety for some. Especially in light of the events that recently transpired in Dallas, a lot more people are on edge. So in today’s Just The Tip, we’ll cover some best practices to help ease tensions and minds on both ends of the equation. It’s especially noteworthy that nearly all of these tips apply whether you’re carrying a firearm or not.

Without further ado:

Turn Off any Music

It’s pretty hard to give the impression that you’re willing to have a positive interaction while “Fuck the Police” is blaring from your vehicle as the officer approaches. Make sure it’s off when you’re pulled over.

Turn Off the Vehicle

and put your keys, if you’re in a vehicle that still uses keys, on the dashboard. This is a clear sign that you’re not going to attempt to run.

Turn On the Interior Dome Light

during hours of darkness. This increases visibility for everyone.

Don’t Rummage

Don’t get your wallet, registration, or insurance out while an officer is approaching your vehicle. Rustling and moving around inside a vehicle can look like all sorts of nefarious actions.

Place your Hands on the Wheel

Put your empty hands either on top of the wheel or at 10 and 2 just like you were taught in driver’s ed. This makes it obvious you aren’t holding anything.

Or, put your Hands out the Window

Putting both hands in plain view outside the window is a clear sign you’re not an immediate threat. Some cops ask every driver to do this on nighttime stops. That said, showing your hands might be a sign to some, probably overly-suspicious, cops that you’ve been “in the system” before–where you’ve learned to always show your hands.

But most cops will appreciate the gesture and see it as an honest effort to ensure you’re not mistaken for a threat.

Roll Down Your Window

It doesn’t have to be all the way down. But just like not having loud music playing, having the window shut is an implication that you may be more difficult to deal with.


If you have Dark Tinted Windows, Roll Them All Down

Know what sucks for a cop? Walking past a nearly black left rear window to approach a driver. Cops have no idea what or who is in the back seat; someone could literally be pointing an AK at them, and they wouldn’t see it. All windows down + lights on alleviates that worry.


Immediately Declare You’re Carrying if Legally Obligated

and strongly consider it even if you’re not. In the state where I live, there is a duty to declare. Each interaction starts with, “Hello officer, I have a duty to inform you that I am a concealed carry permit holder and that I am currently carrying a handgun“.

The next step is on the officer. Sometimes they’ll ask you where you’re carrying. Occasionally you may get a ‘don’t show me yours and I won’t show you mine‘ funny comment. They may have you step out of the car to temporarily disarm you and run the numbers on your gun. Regardless of which way the interaction goes, be clear in your language and only make deliberate and projected movements.

Don’t be an Asshole, even if You’re in the Right

If everything goes south, the time to fight an injustice is not when you’re cuffed on the side of the road. That’s what courts are for.


Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!

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About the Author: A combat veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Dave “Mad Duo Merrill” is a former urban warfare and foreign weapons instructor for Coalition fighting men. An occasional competitive shooter, he has a strange Kalashnikov fetish the rest of the minions try to ignore. Merrill, who has superb taste in hats, has been published in a number of places, the most awesome of which is, of course, here at Breach-Bang-Clear. He loves tacos, is kind of a dick and married way, way above his pay grade. You can contact him at Merrill(at)BreachBangClear.com and follow him on Instagram here (@dave_fm).


  1. Stevo

    I have been pulled over a couple times since I started carrying everyday. I have found that in addition to what you stated (hands in plain view, rolling down the windows, etc) just being polite and articulate goes a LONG way.

    I always lead off with “Sir, I just want to let you know that I have a CCW and I am currently armed” and let the officer take it from there.

    I also let them know if I am not armed. That may seem silly, but the Highway Patrol where I live automatically checks for a CCW associated with a license plate when they make a traffic stop. If the computer shows one, they automatically dispatch a second trooper code-3 (ask me how I learned this). So just out of courtesy, I let them know that I have a CCW, but I am not currently armed, the troopers that I have encountered appreciate this.

    I am curious about how people feel about letting a cop disarm them. I have personally not encountered this. The thought of it makes me feel uncomfortable, but it is not an unreasonable request. Refusing (if it is even legal to do so in your jurisdiction) will escalate the situation very quickly.

  2. Frank Karl

    Okay. Here we go…

    I’m not a LEO and my only relative who was has been retired for 30 years.,. but I’ve paid a lot of money to LEO trainers for this information.

    I like almost everything you said about traffic stops. There are few, in my option, activities than stopping a motor vehicle. Apply that fact to the first rule of police work, the officer gets to go home at the end of the shift, and we have a guideline to minimize negative outcomes, that is being shot or jailed.

    However, I’ve always preferred the words;

    “Officer, I have a permit to legally carry a firearm and I am. How do you want to handle this?”

    I think these words have more meaning and fewer hot buttons. I advise my students to transfer and get use to carrying their wallet on the side opposite of the gun.

    Secondly; I would never put myself in to a something resembling a felony stop position without being instructed to. I have been told this signals “Oh. A felon, and a well trained experienced felon at that!” This does nothing but amp up the situation.

    Tinted windows are not common in Northeast Ohio, but that’s excellent advice to roll down any and all tinted windows.

  3. capodecina

    A few years ago I was driving on the Dallas North Tollway late at night – probably around 03:30/04:00 or so, and riding along at around 65-70mph when I blew through an automated toll plaza (the tolltag section on DNT spans several lanes and there was no traffic due to the early hour) without thinking about it. Now, I was in the wrong, the speed limit approaching the toll plaza drops from 65 to 45 (40 maybe? its been awhile, anyways, not the point).

    Next thing I know, I’ve got the flashing blue lights in my rearview. I immediately pull over and turned off the engine, put down all the windows, turned on the interior lights, removed the keys from the ignition and put my hands on the wheel. Pretty much just like it said above.

    The officer came up, I was polite and respectful and immediately informed the officer that I had a CHL (Texas speak for Concealed Handgun Licence, and it is the same as your drivers licence number) and was armed and was NOT going to move until instructed. I advised him where my weapon was and informed him that it was loaded and chambered. He could see that I was the only occupant in the car and visibly relaxed. We did the “do you know why I pulled you over” routine quickly, and then he asked me why did I roll down the windows. He said that most people didn’t do that, which really surprised me.

    I told him that it was because of the two of us, I more or less knew what to expect when he came up to the car. I hadn’t broken any major laws, and would either get a warning or at worst, a ticket. He had no idea what he was coming up on and had far more reason to be nervous and on edge than I did. He appreciated that and told me to watch my speed through the toll plazas and told me to have a nice night.

    Things could have gone much differently, and it would have all been on me if it had. I knew had done nothing wrong other than speeding, there was no reason to get an attitude with an officer who was doing his job and the only reason he was involved in my life was because I had done something to put him there. He wanted to do the same thing as I did – he wanted to go home after a hard night at work.

    They are people too, just like anyone else. The difference is that they usually have to see and deal with the worst in people. Especially these days when they are legit concerned about coming home at the end of the shift, and the safety of their family while they are away. Don’t go making their jobs harder. Any of us would appreciate it if someone did something to make our jobs just a little bit easier right? A little courtesy goes a long way

  4. Joe

    I’d like to offer one slight change. When stating you’re carrying, say you’re “carrying” or “armed”. I saw Massad Ayoob mention this, because a young partner of the cop at the window may only perk up when he hears the word “gun” and escalate the situation. Otherwise, great tips, especially rolling down all the dark tinted windows. I’d never heard that one before. Thanks.

  5. Echo

    Great info but everyone who ever put their hands out the window on me eventually went to jail. It was a subconscious guilty alert on their part. I get why but you suggest it but that is not common in the Midwest, maybe other places though.

  6. Paceaux

    When I lived in Texas a few years back, I was pulled over. I didn’t have a damned clue why; I was behaving myself. But pulled into a parking lot, rolled down the window, and he asked for registration.

    Registration that was in the center console, underneath my handgun.

    I very politely said, “officer, I’d love to give you my registration, but it’s underneath my handgun in this center console. I’d really like to not get shot tonight. Can I step out and have you grab it?”

    He opened the door, asked me to step back a few feet, and went in. Then he asked me if my gun was loaded. He opens it up, commented, “oh, same as mine”, popped out the magazine, emptied the chamber, and left the slide locked open.

    He looked over my paperwork and said, “You’re good. you had some dirt covering up your registration; I couldn’t tell if you were registered” (I had Illinois plates where registration is on the plate).

    We chatted for a few minutes about Sigs, and then I asked him, “Do you want to load my gun, or should I?” He said, “wait until I’m out of the area, then you can load it.” And then he added, “thank you for being concerned about my safety. I really appreciate it.”

    Granted… I wasn’t thinking at all about his safety. I was worried about my own. I know the vast majority of LEOs are good guys who make good choices – but there’s a few bad apples in every bunch. I do everything in my power to avoid finding out which one pulled me over.

    No one likes getting pulled over – it’s agitating for all of us. But I simply don’t understand the mindset of, “if I piss off a man with a a gun, a baton, and a taser, surely everything will go my way”


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