On thing that those of us who carry need to be concerned about is what to do when an officer pulls us over while we’re armed. The rules about this vary state to state but what I’m writing can only be considered applicable in Minnesota.
The rules in Minnesota are simple. You do not need to inform an officer that you’re armed but if asked you must answer truthfully. When an officer runs your license plate number the returned information will include whether the registered owner of the vehicle has a carry permit or not [Pending official verification. See comments below.]. With this knowledge the officer can chose to ask if you’re armed or not.
There are two schools of thought on how to respond to this situation. The first school says you should inform the officer right away. The second school of thought is that you shouldn’t disclose any information to the officer unless he or she asks first. I’m in the second school of thought and this post is my justification.
First the police officer should know whether I have a permit when they pull me over as my vehicle is registered to me. With this knowledge if they want to know I’m armed then they can ask. Duty of information is their burden not mine. Second a police officer’s job requires them to use anything you say against you. Because of this, outside of casual conversation, my rule of thumb is the only answer questions asked by the police. I never give any information they don’t ask for directly and when they ask a question I answer it as to the point as possible. I’m always polite because they are doing their job after all and I’m glad there are police officers out there. But I’m not going to give them any rope to hang me with either.
My third reasoning is the most important to me though. That’s the fact that criminals have impersonated police officers. These criminals have pulled over innocent people and robbed, raped, or murdered those people. Now if you’re like me you obvious take some time and consideration on the subject of self defense. We’re taught to always be in condition yellow and aware of our surroundings. We’re also taught to be suspicious of anybody we don’t know. So why take somebody’s word that their a police officer without question?
A little known fact is that you can call 911 when you’re being pulled over and ask the operator if there is actually a cop pulling you over. They will tell you whether the person behind you is a cop or not. This is advice they now give in driver education course as a mechanism to verify the person pulling you over at 3 a.m. in the middle of nowhere is actually a cop or not. Additionally a person impersonating a cop is not going to have access to your license and registration information. Unless the impersonator knows you personally or has access to the police database they will not know you are armed. This brings us to the whole subject of not informing the person pulling you over that you’re armed. If the person pulling you over is a real cop they know you have a carry permit and therefore can ask if you’re armed. On the other hand if the person who is pulling you over isn’t a cop they have no way of knowing you have a carry permit and therefore will most likely not ask you if you’re armed. If they ask if you have a carry permit be suspicious because a real officer will have access to such information.
If the person is actually a criminal impersonating a cop do you want to volunteer the information that you’re armed? I sure wouldn’t. I have a gun as a mechanism to use in self-defense. I also carry concealed because I don’t want people knowing I’m armed, the element of surprise is a good thing in my book. Therefore I’m not going to divulge the face I’m armed to somebody who could be a potential criminal.
Stay alert. Don’t trust people you don’t know, especially when that person appears to be a person of authority. Criminals do use disguises of authority to gain peoples’ trust and obedience. You shouldn’t drop out of condition yellow just because the person in front of you looks like an authority figure.