Police aren’t always the nicest people on planet Earth. To be fair, the people they interact with aren’t always peaceable, law-abiding types either. As for the officer above — who drew his gun on these motorists and assured the driver that he, the police officer, was ready to shoot — we don’t know the totality of the circumstances. Suffice it to say, gun owners have special reason to take care when stopped by cops . .
First, check your state’s laws on the “duty to inform.” That’s a legal obligation (or lack thereof) to tell a police officer you’re carrying a gun.
Even in states where you aren’t legally obliged to tell the officer you’ve got a gun, consider doing so. If a police officer suddenly sees a firearm that he didn’t know about (because you didn’t tell him or her), that’s not going to be a welcome sight. An unpleasant surprise, in fact. Not good.
Before that, when you see the flashers coming after you, I suggest immediately putting on your hazard lights. This indicates compliance — even if you intend on traveling some distance to a safe location to stop.
I also suggest lowering ALL your windows (regardless of your window tinter’s advice) and turning on the interior lights (if it’s nighttime). If an officer can see everything and everyone in the car, he’s going to be less concerned about realizing his worst fear: a deadly ambush.
Get out your driver’s license, hold it in one hand and place both hands on the steering wheel. I recommend holding both your license and your handgun permit (if you have one) and handing both documents to the officer upon request.
Don’t move and do what the officer tells you to do — noting that you do NOT have to consent to a search of your vehicle without a search warrant. And don’t do anything the officer doesn’t tell you to do.
That said, if you believe a command puts you in immediate danger (e.g., if something seems out of place, say at night, in a dark place, and/or the officer asks you to step away from the camera – things that seem outside the normal business of a police officer) consider respectfully declining to comply. Ask for another officer to be present.
If you’re faced with contradictory or dangerous instructions — in this case the officer told the driver to put his keys on the roof then got all bent out of shape when the driver exited the car to follow his instructions — ask for clarification while remaining still.
I keep my insurance in the glove box. Before retrieving it, I ask permission. “My registration is in the glove box. May I reach over and get it?”
Move slowly. Be polite and courteous. Treat a police officer at least as well as you would treat a waitress. If the officer does something rude or illegal (e.g., searches the car without permission), ask for another officer. The time to really make a stink is later.
If an officer asks to see/handle your firearm, do NOT immediately comply. “Officer, I’d prefer it if you took the gun from me. How would you like to proceed?” It’s entirely possible that a second officer will make the scene at the exact moment you have your gun in your hand. Not good.
Some people will read these instructions and say they indicate craven subservience to the state. So be it. I reckon it’s better to be safe than a social justice warrior.