“Investigators say [Eric] Crawley rushed to Rugby Street in Cedarbrook last Friday after his sister got into a fight with her boyfriend,” abclocal.go.com reports. “Crawley was wearing a holstered gun. ‘They tell the male not to remove the gun, he removes the gun, the officer tells him to drop the weapon, he does not, the officer fired one shot,’ said [Philadelphia Police Department] Lt. Ray Evers.” Crawley later died. The family disputes the claim that Crawley unholstered his gun. If he did get out his gatt, it was, obviously, a fatal mistake . . .

The Philadelphia Police department has made its antipathy to civilian gun ownership perfectly clear. Most recently, The City of Brotherly Love’s police spokesperson warned open carry advocates that officers would command the gun owner to lay on the ground until the cop “felt safe.” Imagine how they feel about concealed carry. Or click here and read about the Philly PD’s anti-gun jihad.

The Philly Po-Po are hardly alone in this pistol paranoia. Whether or not you live in an area where concealed carry is common practice, cops don’t like civilians with guns. Period.

On one level, it’s perfectly understandable. Your average officer has seen dozens of “normal” people flip out and become violent. Like the gun-grabbing Violence Policy Center, they come to consider every concealed carry weapons (CCW) permit holder a potential perp. Even those that know that most CCW permit holders won’t go psycho would prefer not to take the risk.

It gets worse from there. When a police officer encounters a civilian with a firearm, the officer’s entire thought process is dead simple. Gun = bad. As adrenalin courses through their bloodstream, they switch into one of two modes: disarm or shoot. If the gun in question is in someone’s hand, they just might skip the first option. Entirely.

This could be you. Before or after a defensive gun use (DGU), you may find yourself keeping your gun trained on an attacker in case he or she mounts a fresh assault. You might be guarding against retaliation or escalation from people on the perp’s friends and family program. Or you might just forget what the Hell you’re doing. And here come the cops, implementing the binary decision process described above (disarm/shoot).

First, note that you are under no obligation to remain at a crime scene if your life is in danger. If you’re holding a gun when the police arrive, maybe you shouldn’t be there in the first place. Some gun gurus recommend that you set your gun down AS the police arrive. I reckon the police might interpret any movement as aggressive. So . . . FREEZE!

Don’t move a muscle. Not one. Stand perfectly still. If a police officer tells you to drop your weapon, drop your weapon. Instantly. Even if it’s a $3000 Wilson Combat .45, drop it like it’s hot. By the same token, don’t drop your gun until instructed to do so. Don’t do anything. Wait for instructions. Follow them slowly and carefully. All hell may be broken or continue to be breaking loose, but there’s no rush. Not when your life depends on a police officer’s restraint.

Different scenario: a police officer asks you to remove a holstered weapon. Don’t. NEVER TOUCH YOUR GUN IN FRONT OF A POLICE OFFICER. Even if you remove your gun nice and slow and do exactly what you’re told the cop still might get spooked and shoot you. By the same token, an arriving colleague might see you holding a gun near a brother officer and get the wrong idea.

If a cop asks you to remove your weapon, again, freeze. As soon as you get the chance, as and when it’s safe to do so, tell the cop “Officer, I am not going to touch my gun. What do you want me to do?” If they repeat the command to disarm yourself, repeat your statement that you will do nothing of the sort. Wait until he or she changes the command to something less dangerous (e.g., get on your knees).

As the Brits say, it’s the bus you don’t see that kills you. Be aware that the police may be the greatest danger you may face as a gun owner, even after you use your weapon to defend your life. Especially after you use your weapon to defend your life. That sucks, but there it is.

25 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Don’t Unholster Your Gun for the Cops

  1. “Officer, I am not going to touch my gun. What do you want me to do?”

    That’s more or less what I’d probably say if I was in a situation where a cop wants me to remove my weapon.

    The one and only situation I was in where I was OCing around an officer, it was a traffic stop and once I told her I was carrying she very politely asked me to step out of the vehicle just so we could talk where she could see me. The gun wasn’t a subject of conversation after that, but when I reached for my wallet to get my ID I gave my holster a VERY wide berth because I wasn’t about to get shot over a stop sign. And when she went to run my ID, I kept my arms crossed far from my weapon. I didn’t want to give her any ideas.

  2. http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2010/sep/28/jury-shooting-justified/

    I’m reasonably certain the inquiry into the shooting of Erik Scott was used to cover up a murder.

    From what I’ve read, it sounds like confusing and contradictory commands were shouted by the police at Erik Scott. Which resulted in the death of Mr. Scott.

    The cops claimed Scott pointed a weapon at them. Yet, it is on record the gun in question was in the holster when Scott was shot.

    Bottom line: if you’re caught in a situation where you’ve got a nervous cop pointing a gun at you, there isn’t any one thing you can do to prevent getting shot. Freezing isn’t necessarily going to help. If cops thinks you’re going for your gun, even if you don’t, you will get shot.

    • As my father used to say (before his number was up), when your number’s up, it’s up. Freezing is the best course of action in the scenarios described above, but as you point out, there are no guarantees.

  3. In Texas, when you are stopped for any reason by and LEO and are asked for identification, you MUST give them both your driver’s license and your CHL. If you don’t give them your CHL voluntarily, you can lose it, permanently. At that time, common sense would dictate that you inform the officer(s) as to your status (carrying/not carrying) and ask them if they feel the need to disarm you.

    Since getting my gun and my wallet require the same motions/motor skills, I think I’ll TELL them I have a CHL and a weapon BEFORE I go for my wallet, to avoid any unpleasantness.

    • I was under that rule also and believe it works very well and allows for a great deal of discretion. I always handed over the I.D.’s first and let the officer ask, or not, about the presence of a firearm.

      Regarding dealing with urgent, potentially conflicting commands from multiple officers, how does one identify the correct officer to respond to and move the communication to that channel only?

    • I’ve started keeping my wallet in my left hand back pocket since I carry right side. I figure that keeps me well away from my ID if/when it is needed.

  4. I would not just drop your weapon like a hot patato if it falls on the hammer someone including yourself is going to get shot just my humble opinion

    • Any modern pistol in good working order should be able to take being dropped, even directly on the hammer, without firing.

        • If your pistol isn’t drop safe, get a new one. I wouldn’t carry a gun that I “Hoped” was safe.

        • Do ya not understand the internal workings of the firearms you own?

          I don’t “I hope”… I can explain exactly why my firearm will not discharge even if dropped directly on its hammer.

  5. If a police officer tells you to drop your weapon, drop your weapon. Instantly. Even if it’s a $3000 Wilson Combat .45, drop it like it’s hot…..

    I would not just drop your weapon like a hot potato if it falls on the hammer someone including yourself is going to get shot just my humble opinion

    • I’d do a little more looking before making that claim. A modern gun shouldn’t ever go off when dropped, even if it lands on the hammer. Your $3000 Wilson combat has things like a backstrap safety for exactly that reason. Gun makers test stuff like that. I can’t prove it, but it seems pretty likely the “I dropped my gun and it went off” excuse is really just something people say when they’ve been fiddling with the thing unsafely and are trying to bluff their way out of it.

        • Just like I hope the other cars stopped at the intersection won’t run the light when it’s green for me. Just like I hope the microwave won’t short and explode. Just like I hope my gun’s bolt won’t tear out and fly into my face when I’m out plinking. Yes, there’s a chance it could go off. There’s a much greater chance the cop will shoot me for not disarming when he or she tells me to.

  6. You now have two stories with black guys in them and you manage to squeeze the word “gatt” in both.

    Interesting..

  7. I agree completely, I am not touching my weapon. Whenever talking to a police officer I even make sure I keep my hands in the open, and out of my pockets. I also bear in mind I have folding knives which can be opened and used in a flash, and I don’t want to be the end result of some cop having just seen a training film- on the speed of a suspect using an edged weapon on a cop.

  8. From the training I have received you are supposed to put your hands up and with a strong voice say (not yell), “I am a Concealed Weapons Permit holder. I am currently armed. My sidearm is inside my waistband on the right side. How do you want me to preceed, Officer?”

    You go from there and everything should be fine unless you are an actual criminal. Doing anything against what the cops say usually ends in being shot regardless of who you are so stay smart folks.

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