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The Arizona Department of Transportation doesn’t go that far, but it’s added a section to its drivers’ manual on the proper behavior for an armed driver stopped by police. From , page 57 of the Drivers’ License Manual :

Inform the officer of any weapons on your person or in the vehicle.

In addition to the guidelines above, drivers with firearms in the vehicle should keep your hands on the steering wheel in a visible location and when the officer approaches let them know that you have a firearm in the vehicle and where the firearm is located.

If requested, the officer may take possession of the weapon, for safety reasons, until the contact is complete. Arizona law does not require that people carrying concealed weapons notify police, but it requires that people carrying a concealed deadly weapon answer truthfully if asked by police if they are carrying.

If the officer does not ask, a person who is carrying a concealed weapon is not obligated to tell the officer they are armed.

The tragic circumstances of the Philando Castile case will be cited for and against the advisability of notifying officers if you are armed. In some states, the notification is required by law. In others, it is conditional, depending on whether the officer asks or not. In other states, no notification is necessary.

Minnesota law is similar to that of Arizona. Castile was not required to notify the officer that he was armed until asked. The shooting of Castile might have been avoided if he had not volunteered that he was armed, or if he had kept his hands on the dash while waiting for the officers instructions.

In any case, the acknowledgment in the AZ DOT drivers manual that many drivers are legally armed is a sign of the normalization of armed citizens. Winning.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included. Gun Watch

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  1. There is a huge difference between the two states. Arizona is constitutional carry. Minnesota is not.

    • Even then, you have to carefully define terms if you’re going to do a head-to-head comparison.

      Next week, my home state will get its version of Constitutional Carry.

      – State residents only.
      – Must have a state-issued DL/ID that proves you’ve lived here for over a year.
      – Must carry DL/ID (or electronic image of same) whenever you’re carrying.
      – Must notify officer of armed status immediately upon contact (even though state residents carrying with a state-issued carry permit don’t have to notify officers unless asked).
      – No reciprocity.

      A lot of folks wouldn’t call this Constitutional Carry by most definitions, but it’s still a huge improvement for residents who’ve lived here for over a year.

      • Can any law-abiding citizen of the US carry there, without any kind of residency stipulation? Then yeah no, it’s not constitutional carry, even if you want to pretend it is. It might be better than what you used to have, but it’s not constitutional carry.

        • Many (most) States have versions of the Second Amendment enshrined in their state Constitutions. If the law is based on that source it still counts as “Constitutional Carry”. We get enough of those then we can put even more pressure on Congress to get reciprocity and eventually federal Constitutional Carry, which I would prefer to see promoted as “2A Carry” in order to distinguish its provenance and its national nature.

          Since Heller, in theory, incorporated the federal Second Amendment to all the States a 2A Carry law would apply across the board and supersede State laws the way State law in most cases supersedes local laws.

          A man can dream.

      • So glad my CC is issued by the Federal Government and good in all 50 states, Washington DC, and US Territories (Guam, US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and so on). Must carry documentation of firearm certification issued no longer than 12 month of the date of carry.

        I do have to comply with applicable laws such as restrictions on entering school grounds, government buildings like courthouses, airports, military installations (can’t get into either Area 51 or 52! Bummer!!), etc.

  2. That’s how I have handles all the times I’ve been stopped while carrying, has always ended up being a warning too.

    • I was very tired and did a dumb one, got deservedly pulled over, no question. Did not have to tell officer I was armed, but did from the start. Only a warning in what could have been a big ticket: officer said that because of telling him about being armed and cooperated, no ticket.

  3. As always,

    The people who aren’t a danger to the officer will inform the officer.

    The people who might possibly/are a danger to the officer won’t inform.

    • Nope, I refuse to inform and I have zero intention of hurting an officer unless he tries to hurt me first.

      • “…I have zero intention of hurting an officer unless he tries to hurt me first.”

        In the event they’re determined to “hurt you first” your situation can be summed up in two words: “You’re fucked”.

        If they succeed then you are harmed. If you successfully defend yourself expect that the next set of officers smoke your ass or, take you into custody, handle you roughly, let your cell mate do whatever he wants to you and then the DA will throw every possible charge at you. While you may not be convicted, you screwed with their “guys” and at absolute best they’ll bankrupt you for it.

        If the cop takes that kind of attitude there really isn’t a good outcome for John Q. Citizen, your life is about to get destroyed one way or another.

        • Maybe. Though there was a case a few years back (wish I could remember more details) where a homeowner killed a cop during a no-knock raid at the wrong address. Dumbass was trying to climb in through old boy’s winder and the homeowner put a round through the top of his skull. Jury cleared him. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, and he probably lost a LOT. But he survived, was cleared, and was, presumably, able to start to rebuild his life. Still an atrocious situation, but better than letting those bastards kill him.

    • Never inform them unless you have to. All you’ve done by informing them is complicate and possibly escalate the situation.

      The police are not your friend, they are the fist of the government, avoid them to the best of your ability.

      • I’m sorry that you live your life in fear of authority. It is my belief that the vast, vast, vast majority of police officers understand that A, a person with a conceal carry permit is a non felon who’s never been convicted of even misdemeanor domestic assault. B, a person who really wants to shoot at police won’t give them advanced notice first.

        You’re welcome to disagree. But if you really expect to convince anyone, please offer more cases of cops shooting someone who’s just informed them they’re a legal carrier than just one…. out of all 50 states…. in the last 100 years.

        I will agree that it’s best to live your life free of committing crime and therefore avoiding unnecessary interactions with law enforcement.

        • Timothy:

          My intense desire to avoid law enforcement by all means necessary is not based on their record of shooting legally permitted concealed carriers. It is based on the literally daily numerous examples of cops behaving badly. Cops are dangerous. To everybody.

        • Poser, I didn’t reply to you. I replied to someone saying they’d never inform about carry. That you’re trying to both broaden the topic and redirect my reply like it was about you is sad.

    • Cops already assume EVERYONE is armed. Duhh.. Same thing we do right?

      So, as all the troopers here have said over and over again. If you don’t plan to use it, then why do you need to tell me?

      Think about it. If you have a bat in the trunk, you dont say, Oh by the way officer, I have a bat in the trunk in case I want to bash somebodys skull in.

  4. Even then, you have to carefully define terms if you’re going to do a head-to-head comparison.

    Next week, my home state will get its version of Constitutional Carry.

    – State residents only.
    – Must have a state-issued DL/ID that proves you’ve lived here for over a year.
    – Must carry DL/ID (or electronic image of same) whenever you’re carrying.
    – Must notify officer of armed status immediately upon contact (even though state residents carrying with a state-issued carry permit don’t have to notify officers unless asked).
    – No reciprocity.

    A lot of folks wouldn’t call this Constitutional Carry at all, but it’s still a huge improvement for residents who’ve lived here for over a year.

  5. In Illinois (one of the most corrupt and bankrupt states in the nation because it is run by democrats and republicans who wish they were democrats), I would think that a cop pulling over a person with a concealed carry license (CCL) would be at ease because he would know that that person has been thoroughly vetted by the Illinois State Police, cross checked with the county sheriff’s office, had 16 hrs of training, and spent about $300-$350 to get his/her license.

    Everyone else the cop pulls over, he will know nothing about that person other than what shows up on his computer when he/she runs the plates and drivers license. If I have read correctly, folks with CCLs have proven to be more law abiding than LEOs (no citation so doubt that if you will).

    So the bottom line is this, a cop should prefer pulling over a driver with a CCL more than anyone else, including his/her buddies in law enforcement. But I doubt that is the case.

  6. The shooting of Castile might have been avoided if he had not volunteered that he was armed, or if he had kept his hands on the dash while waiting for the officers instructions.

    First of all, Officer Hair Trigger should not have drawn and shot at Castile because there was a woman and young child in the vehicle … and Officer Hair Trigger could have moved toward the trunk of the car to virtually guarantee that Castile could not have harmed Officer Hair Trigger had that been Castile’s intention. (Trying to draw and place accurate shots at someone who is behind your trunk when you are sitting in your driver’s seat is next to impossible.)

    Second of all, Castile WAS following Officer Hair Trigger’s command: to present his driver’s license which required reaching for his wallet in his pocket. Following the officer’s demand was the direct “cause” of his death.

    The real problem here: following an officer’s demand for your driver’s license justifies the officer shooting you because it requires that the driver move … which the officer can claim was a “furtive movement” or reaching for a weapon.

    Unless you have your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance strapped to your left wrist, your hands are on your steering wheel, your driver window is wide open, your interior lights are on (if night time), and you remain motionless, the traffic cop can justify shooting you. This utterly sucks.

    • Getting shot, because the cop doesn’t know how to manage a contact with a legally armed citizen, also sucks. One of you has to do the thinking. If the cop can’t, it’s in your own best interest to do it for him.

    • A couple of years ago, after voicing some concerns here on TTAG regarding reaching with my right hand for my wallet I was compelled to follow the advice of several persons who commented on my concern and pointed out that the simple solution is to move your wallet to the left rear pocket, Sometimes the solution to a problem is so obvious that it takes a slap upside your head to bring it to your attention.

      I now carry my wallet in the 7:00 position (left rear pocket) while my EDC rides at 3:30 on the right side. To further simplify matters I have my registration and proof of insurance and a copy of my CPL folded up in the sunglasses case mounted above the rear view mirror. Everything I need to hand the officer except my CDL is right under the dome light on the ceiling of the car.

      The Veteran’s license plate seems to help too. More than once I have glanced in the mirror to see a Highway Patrol car on my bumper while I was most definitely in excess (but not unreasonably in excess) of the posted limit. When I signaled to change to the right the NHP would simply pass me by. Might be because of the Vet plate, maybe just luck.

      • Belong to my State’s Sherriff’s Association; they notice, you can tell, in any state you are in. (Decals on both vehicles advertising membership).

        • As a state trooper (ret) I assure you most cops do not care about such stickers. I can’t count how many felons I have arrested driving a car with police association stickers, DARE stickers, “Support Your Police” stickers etc.

  7. No duty to inform in Colorado. After Castile I know longer volunteer that information or place my permit on top of my drivers license.

    • One stupid cop killing someone who doesn’t deserve it is justification for you to change your whole life? That’s it? Just one example in all 50 states in the last 100 years? That’s all it takes?

      It’s a wonder you manage to get in your car and drive, you know how many people die on the roads? I guarantee you it’s more than one. Or take a bath/shower, you know how many people drown in the tub?

      You’re free to live your life how you choose. But for your own sake, I hope you don’t change every detail of your life when there’s one example somewhere of that detail being lethal. You’ll have to give up ovens, microwaves, stairs, sidewalks, cars, boats, toothbrushes, white people, black people, Asians, men, women, everything. Literally everything.

  8. Inform your overlords so they can disarm you for “safety”. Meanwhile, if you were actually going to shoot them this type of law changes nothing but to make classes of animals where some are more equal than others. I don’t trust people that pull guns during non deadly situations (he ran or isn’t complying to my orders, Im gonna draw on him!!) the vast majority of cops should be charged with brandishing or aggravated assault pretty regularly. It burns me to see the boot licking so prevalent with many self described “constitutionalist” gun owners. These are the folks who enforce unconstitutional laws. They are the folks that will murder you over a few dollars due to some victimless mala prohibita law. Occasionally even without those typical false justifications, they will murder in cold blood.

  9. I try to follow the speed limit (or prevailing flow of traffic if it dramatically mismatches the posted limit), and remember to use my turn signals. I also check my car’s lights every other month (in case the dash idiot light is also out).

    Shockingly, this behavior results in very very few interactions with the police in the first place.

    • As a professional driver with somewhere north of 1.5 million miles on the road I can concur with your statement. The best way to never get trouble from, or shot by, the police is to do everything you can to never attract their attention to you AT ALL.

  10. In South Carolina there is a duty to inform. If you are a CWP holder, the cop will know the second he runs your drivers license anyway. Since we can carry in our vehicles regardless if we have a CWP or not, the cop is probably going to get you out of the vehicle. If you or the cop are feeling like being a jerk the 4th circuit said it was ok to put the driver on the ground and handcuffed.

    It’s dangerous to be pulled over for a traffic violation these days.

  11. In this article, Mr. Wengarten quotes from the AZ Driver’s License Manual. The last two sentences in italics “Arizona law does not require that people carrying concealed weapons notify police” etc… does not appear to be part of the Driver Manual. It’s a little misleading written as such, perhaps a link to the A.R.S. that covers no duty to inform would be more appropriate. Not calling out Dean to be a d#<k, just think this should be corrected. First time commenter, long time lurker, AZ resident and big fan of TTAG and Mr. Weingarten's informative articles. Peace.

  12. Volunteering one’s armed status, in lieu of statutory requirement to do so, seems like an unnecessary forfeiture of the right to not self-incriminate.

  13. Aside from the legality of the cop demanding or the carrier being forced to notify, the issue is one of initiator’s advantage.

    Cops assume everyone is a threat. Therefore, the first rule for them is to be the first one who draws his weapon, not the second. We can debate whether this is appropriate for our sort of society, but the fact remains this is how cops think and it’s entirely rational for them to do so.

    It’s entirely rational for you to assume everyone is a threat until proven otherwise – and that includes cops.

    Notification is giving up the initiator advantage.

    I’m also leaving aside the problem of he’s standing outside your window and you’re seated with a seat-belt on, which isn’t a good tactical position to be in…

    The probability at this stage of this country is that you’re not going to need to draw down on a cop unless you’re a criminal. But there are circumstances where you might have to – you’re black, you happen to be driving a car which is the same make and model as the one used in the armed store robbery that took place ten minutes ago, you’re living in a state where this sort of thing ends up with dead black (or any other color) people, you have a cop who just wants to shoot someone (they exist), etc. In that case, you have to choose whether to comply and notify, or wait and see whether the cop is going to over-react and shoot you rather than clearing you with proper procedure.

    This will be determined on a case basis, there’s no predicting the outcome or the proper approach apriori. But if you draw first, you’d better be sure it’s a life-or-death situation – which is true in any case where you draw your weapon. Because once you draw down on an agent of the state, you’re screwed unless you can PROVE that he was acting out of bounds of procedure. And that is extremely unlikely to be able to be proven, short of a dash cam that captures every detail in your favor.

    But if you’re in the situation where a cop is drawing with intent to shoot you, and you know this isn’t right, then you will have to save your life regardless. And having notified him in advance that you’re armed will put you in a negative tactical position.

    Just sayin’… (Again, leaving out the legal requirements.)

  14. Everybody, wearing clothes, must be presumed to be armed and homicidal until proven otherwise. This rule applies to everybody, not just cops.
    Castile was moving around, doing things despite not being instructed to do so. The officer should have shouted STOP!
    But saying “I HAVE A GUN!” is as much a threat as a notification. A nice thing about having a CCW is that you can say, “I’m licensed to carry.” This is notification and will not be heard as a threat. And the CCW does give you a pass on the Federal GFSZ law, but only if the license is issued by the state where the school is located.
    HR 38 will fix this decades old trap.
    Whether you’re walking down the street, driving in a car or relaxing on the beach, any officer must as part of survival assume that you will try to kill him/her. Letting him/her know that you’re licensed, lawful and considerate goes a long way toward keeping everybody leak-free.

  15. So many ignorant statements here. As an AZ state trooper, I have dealt with everyone – you “constitutionalists” were my favorites and I’ve had some great discussions on the side of the road listening to you. But out of about 20, only one refused to comply with my instructions (and the law) by refusing to provide dr lic, regist, and proof of ins. He didn’t because he couldn’t – he was suspended and had warrants out for his arrest. The remainder all caved in when I pulled out the handcuffs and told them they were under arrest – then all of a sudden out came everything I asked for. A couple still went to jail because they were complete assholes. The rest I gave a break to, wrote them their ticket or warning and away they went. One guy had just completed a class on this “constitutionalist” movement (he’d just spent $300 for the course) and he was reading from his notebook when answering my requests! “I don’t recognize your authority, call a deputy sheriff, call your supervisor,” etc. Silly. Bottom line: You are not going to win an argument with a cop on the side of the road who is doing his duty. Make a complaint later if you think you were wronged. So tired of these jackbooted thugs, overlords, and other stupid labels – you clearly have issues with authority figures. Yes, there are some bad cops out there but 99% are not.

    As for this topic of ADOT placing instructions in the AZ driver’s license manual – I think it’s a good thing. We’ve had CCW in AZ for a long time and most cops are now used to it – but when it first started, it was a mess. When someone told me they were carrying a concealed gun and had a permit, I’d ask them where the gun was (people have them everywhere) and to see his permit and driver’s license. At that point I usually told them to not touch the gun and I would carry on with the stop. Even when I took a driver out of the car back by my car I would let them remain armed. I had many nice discussions about guns with folks I’ve stopped. Just understand that most police training academies drill into the cadets skulls that only bad guys have guns (unintentionally) because of the way they run training to prepare them for bad guys. When I worked in our CCW unit, I used to go to the academy and teach cadet officers about our CCW laws and how to handle permit holders. Also know that not all cops are “gun people.”

    Anyway, I didn’t care if they told me or not because as someone else said, I ALWAYS assumed EVERYONE was armed and never let my guard down. Just keep in mind – if your gun is in the glove box and that’s where your registration and insurance papers are, TELL THE OFFICER FIRST BEFORE REACHING IN THERE TO GET IT. One of my stops almost ended very tragically because a guy didn’t. He pissed himself when I yelled “stop” and he turned to see my 45 pointed at his face. I could see he immediately realized what had just happened. I talked to him for about 20 mins to calm him down so he could drive and let him go on the speeding ticket. Just be smart.

    If you have an officer who is clearly panicking because you told him you are armed and have a permit – keep your hands on the steering wheel until he calms down, don’t argue or yell, stay calm and wait for another officer to arrive who hopefully takes control. Otherwise remain calm, talk him down and tell him you are afraid he will shoot you – hopefully this will break his focus on you being a threat but keep your hands on the steering wheel until you can talk him down. The Philando Castile case was terribly tragic and should have never happened based upon what I know.

  16. In Texas, the law requires that we show our LTC along with our Drivers license. My last traffic stop was about 10 years ago. I failed to see the sign for the speed limit going down from 45 to 30. A tree branch was growing onto part of it and it was less visible than it should have been, but it was not covered. I just missed it. The officer was professional, and I was polite. I had my wallet and proof of insurance out and on the dash before he got out of the car. I was given a verbal warning. I can’t say every officer has been professional when I have had interactions with them, but I never escalated the situation. That part was within my control. Since Lupe Valdez has been the Dallas County Sheriff, the deputies have shown a remarkable increase in professionalism.
    In Ellis County, our Sheriff made a bad decision on the past New Year’s Eve, and it cost him his job and his career. It was a bad decision, but I don’t think the punishment was fair. A fine and some classes at a community college on criminal justice with a requirement to pass the classes would probably have been sufficient. I hate to see anyone in any profession lose their livelihood over one mistake without a chance to correct it and change whatever caused the situation.

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