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Thread: Definition of "clearly visible"?

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    I'm new to open carry and have a question...Virginia law says you may open carry in a vehicle, but it must be clearly visible.

    Sitting in the drivers seat withmy weapon on my right hip, it cannot be seen by someone standing outside the drivers door looking in the window (such as a cop).

    So I'm a tad confused by the definition of "clearly visible". A friend suggests that as long as no attempt is made to intentionally hide the weapon, then it may be considered clearly visible...but like me, is not sure.

    So, what's the answer? Iwant to make sure I'm following the law 100%.

    Thanks!

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    I am unsure of this also.

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    Regular Member vt357's Avatar
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    Well the law actually doesn't say you can open carry. It doesn't say anything about it at all. Therefore since it is not prohibitted, it is legal. What the law does say is that your gun can't be "hidden from common observation" unless you have your CHP.

    So the question is: if you have your gun holstered in your vehicle, is it hidden from common observation? I think it's kind of a gray area, in some vehicles (like mine) with bucket seats when you put your seatbelt on - you can't see the gun at all. Before I had my permit, I would just keep the gun on the passenger seat where it can't be missed.

    What your friend says is wrong though, your intentions don't matter. For instance: if you don't have a CHP and were open carrying in a holster, but it was cold so you put on a jacket (not realising you were covering up your gun) - it would still be breaking the law.

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    Regular Member ProShooter's Avatar
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    As vt357 stated, there is nothing in the law that addresses open carry. We have to take the law on concealed carry and reverse it to get what we need.

    Concealed carry is defined in the COV as "hidden from common observation", and "a weapon shall be deemed to be hidden from common observation when it is observable but is of such deceptive appearance as to disguise the weapon's true nature".

    Now, let me dust off my ol'd LEO hat which was custom fitted with 7 1/8 inches of commons sense. If you are, say right handed and carry a handgun in an open carry manner such as a typical belt slide holster, and you are seated in a vehicle, you should be fine. You obviously cannot be expected to drive with your back to the steering wheel in the off chance of a LEO encounter. The gun must be carried in a manner that would be easily seen if, say, you stepped out of the vehicle. If you are cold and drive with a coat on, then it would naturally be concealed and would require a permit. Just because you are seated normally in a vehicle doesnt mean that there was an attempt to conceal the weapon.

    With that said, it behooves you to notify a LEO for everyone's safety that you are carrying if you are stopped and the officer approaches from the driver's side....that's just common courtesy.

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    I know this topic has come up in the past on these forums however, I am glad to see it revisisted. For those of us that don't have our CHPs yet this is a genuine concern. Noone wants to be pulled over for rolling through a stop sign and get smacked with a firearms charge...

    I would tend to agree with proshooter, but has anyone actually had any expirance with this?

    Also, what would happen if you were carrying in the back seat of a minivan or some other large vehicle with highly tinted rear windows. There would be no way in the world the cop could possibly see it sitting on your hip. Does the gun need to be handed up to the driver and placed on the dashboard? While its always better to be safe than sorry I feel that having a gun sitting on the dashboard isn't really very practical... Given a sudden turn the gun can become a missile inside the car and possibly cause damage.

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    Regular Member vt357's Avatar
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    Bandit wrote:
    ...
    I would tend to agree with proshooter, but has anyone actually had any expirance with this?
    ...
    That's the problem. None of us has thrown out the IANAL caveat yet. Since we aren't lawyers, this is opinion and not legal advice. Even if a current LEO came on and said that in his opinion it was completely legal, you might get pulled over and that officer could say in HIS opinion it was illegal. It would then be up to the commonwealth attorney to decide if he would pursue charges against you. I would personally choose to err on the side of caution.

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    Regular Member Decoligny's Avatar
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    Bandit wrote:
    I know this topic has come up in the past on these forums however, I am glad to see it revisisted. For those of us that don't have our CHPs yet this is a genuine concern. Noone wants to be pulled over for rolling through a stop sign and get smacked with a firearms charge...

    I would tend to agree with proshooter, but has anyone actually had any expirance with this?

    Also, what would happen if you were carrying in the back seat of a minivan or some other large vehicle with highly tinted rear windows. There would be no way in the world the cop could possibly see it sitting on your hip. Does the gun need to be handed up to the driver and placed on the dashboard? While its always better to be safe than sorry I feel that having a gun sitting on the dashboard isn't really very practical... Given a sudden turn the gun can become a missile inside the car and possibly cause damage.
    Well, let's examine this by changing the scenario a little bit. Let's say you are walking while open carrying. Obciously you can see the weapon. You need to use the facilities, so you step into a porta-potty. Does the weapon need to be held up to the vent screen so that in case a cop happens to walks by he will be able to see it? Just because a cop can't see the weapon doesn't mean it is concealed.

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    LOL at the port-a-potty example ^^^


    If I did not have my conceal permit, I think i would attatch a SERPA (Level II or the CQC model) to the dashboard -- of course I have a scooter now, not a car...

    On the passenger seat or on the dashboard (preferrably on one of those little non-slip mats) is SOP here in Utah.

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    Decoligny wrote:
    Well, let's examine this by changing the scenario a little bit. Let's say you are walking while open carrying. Obciously you can see the weapon. You need to use the facilities, so you step into a porta-potty. Does the weapon need to be held up to the vent screen so that in case a cop happens to walks by he will be able to see it? Just because a cop can't see the weapon doesn't mean it is concealed.
    Interesting example and point duly noted.

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    Regular Member Smurfologist's Avatar
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    I always OC my weapon on my dash (I have a place mat that keeps my weapon in place while driving). I do this so that if I am ever stopped by a LEO, it will be in plain view (since I have light tinted windows, I never place my weapon on the passenger seat). I (personally) don't see how a weapon can be in plain view if it is in a holster around one's waist. The State Police says, "Loaded in passenger seat or dash board in plain view." My advice is to read thelaw.

    2nd Amendment.........Use it..........Or, lose it!!:X



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    Where in VA law does it say anything about Open Carry? The VSP website makes it clear that the State Police are not allowed to interpret the law, only list them in text. When I OC in my truck, I either have it holstered, and tucked between the passenger seat and center console, or I have it in the lower area (by the cupholders) of the console on top of the transmission hump since there is a nice flat rubber area that the paddle of my holster fits into perfectly when laid flat. Both of these ways are not easily (if at all) visible if standing looking in through the drivers side window, but are clearly visible if looking in through the passenger side window. This is no different than standing somewhere on the street, with a belt holster on your right side, and a cop walks past on your left, and can't "see" your gun unless he walks around to your other side. It is not 'hidden' from common observation, since it was visible from SOME place at all times. If a tree falls in the woods when no one's around... same thing. Just because someone can't see it from their current vantage point, doesn't mean it is concealed.

    IANAL of course, but I don't put myself knowingly into situations that could possibly make me a test case either.

    I occassionally just leave my holstered gun on my hip while driving, but I usually don't do this mainy because it presses up against my center console and seatbelt and is just uncomfortable.

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    If the term is not clearly defined by law or footnote then the common dictionary definition will apply.

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    Clearly visible is the ability to see your weapon in some manner if they were on one side of you or another.

    If you are wearing a holster on your right hip ANYONE standing to your left would not see it but if they were to move to your other side or the other window they could.

    So easily seen is just that. The weapon must be able to be seen on your person regardless of your situation.

    In the small of your back would be blocked by the seat. On your right hip in a vehicle where the view from the right side would be blocked. Both examples of a weapon that is NOT clearly visible.

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    Best solution would be that if you just simply apply for a CCW/ CHP and won't have to worry about the simple misunderstanding between you and a LEO.

    Remember this issue is still scorching hot....I would not like to be the first one to find out what went wrong there.

    marine2000





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    Regular Member Smurfologist's Avatar
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    If you have to question whether or not your handgun is clearly visible in your vehicle, then it is not (in my opinion). That is why I always drive with my handgun on my dash (unless I have passengers; I have a CWP) so that there is no question whetheror not it is clearly visible if I ever get pulled over by a LEO. LEO 229 was on the money in his post.

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    Regular Member vt357's Avatar
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    LEO 229 wrote:
    Clearly visible is the ability to see your weapon in some manner if they were on one side of you or another.

    If you are wearing a holster on your right hip ANYONE standing to your left would not see it but if they were to move to your other side or the other window they could.

    So easily seen is just that. The weapon must be able to be seen on your person regardless of your situation.

    In the small of your back would be blocked by the seat. On your right hip in a vehicle where the view from the right side would be blocked. Both examples of a weapon that is NOT clearly visible.
    I agree with pretty much everything that you just said. But just to make this conversation interesting, I'll play devil's advocate and take your example to the nth degree.

    What about going to a restaurant that serves alcohol where one must OC? If you sit down in a booth with your firearm to the wall, where basically nobody can see it (even though it is being carried openly on your hip), should that be illegal? Should you have to sit with the strong side facing out?

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    vt357 wrote:
    LEO 229 wrote:
    Clearly visible is the ability to see your weapon in some manner if they were on one side of you or another.

    If you are wearing a holster on your right hip ANYONE standing to your left would not see it but if they were to move to your other side or the other window they could.

    So easily seen is just that. The weapon must be able to be seen on your person regardless of your situation.

    In the small of your back would be blocked by the seat. On your right hip in a vehicle where the view from the right side would be blocked. Both examples of a weapon that is NOT clearly visible.
    I agree with pretty much everything that you just said. But just to make this conversation interesting, I'll play devil's advocate and take your example to the nth degree.

    What about going to a restaurant that serves alcohol where one must OC? If you sit down in a booth with your firearm to the wall, where basically nobody can see it (even though it is being carried openly on your hip), should that be illegal? Should you have to sit with the strong side facing out?
    vt357,

    When you enter a restaurant (that sells alcohol for consumption on its premises), you must OC (I am talking about LACs). You are acknowledged as having a weapon as soon as you enter the restaurant (although it may not be noticed, hence, it may not be acknowledged). But, you areOCing legally per the law (I'm sure someone will post the actual statute).

    2nd Amendment........Use it..........Or, lose it!!:X
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    LEO 229 wrote:
    Clearly visible is the ability to see your weapon in some manner if they were on one side of you or another.

    If you are wearing a holster on your right hip ANYONE standing to your left would not see it but if they were to move to your other side or the other window they could.

    So easily seen is just that. The weapon must be able to be seen on your person regardless of your situation.

    In the small of your back would be blocked by the seat. On your right hip in a vehicle where the view from the right side would be blocked. Both examples of a weapon that is NOT clearly visible.
    I think this question will have to answered in a court of law. One or more person's opinion does not it law or correct. I would like to see a locality ask the AG for his opinion. Realistically speaking it is impossible for an OC'ers weapon to be visible from all angles. Therefore a judge or jury could/would not convict.

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    kenny wrote:
    LEO 229 wrote:
    Clearly visible is the ability to see your weapon in some manner if they were on one side of you or another.

    If you are wearing a holster on your right hip ANYONE standing to your left would not see it but if they were to move to your other side or the other window they could.

    So easily seen is just that. The weapon must be able to be seen on your person regardless of your situation.

    In the small of your back would be blocked by the seat. On your right hip in a vehicle where the view from the right side would be blocked. Both examples of a weapon that is NOT clearly visible.
    I think this question will have to answered in a court of law. One or more person's opinion does not it law or correct. I would like to see a locality ask the AG for his opinion. Realistically speaking it is impossible for an OC'ers weapon to be visible from all angles. Therefore a judge or jury could/would not convict.
    Kenny, would you (at least) agree that a handgunwould bemore clearly visible on a dashboard than in a holster on someone's waistby a LEO if stopped (just curious)?

    2ndAmendment........Use it........Or,lose it!!:X
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    LEO 229 wrote:
    Clearly visible is the ability to see your weapon in some manner if they were on one side of you or another.

    If you are wearing a holster on your right hip ANYONE standing to your left would not see it but if they were to move to your other side or the other window they could.

    So easily seen is just that. The weapon must be able to be seen on your person regardless of your situation.

    In the small of your back would be blocked by the seat. On your right hip in a vehicle where the view from the right side would be blocked. Both examples of a weapon that is NOT clearly visible.
    I don't see you cite for this. :?

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    MeBaby wrote:
    LEO 229 wrote:
    Clearly visible is the ability to see your weapon in some manner if they were on one side of you or another.

    If you are wearing a holster on your right hip ANYONE standing to your left would not see it but if they were to move to your other side or the other window they could.

    So easily seen is just that. The weapon must be able to be seen on your person regardless of your situation.

    In the small of your back would be blocked by the seat. On your right hip in a vehicle where the view from the right side would be blocked. Both examples of a weapon that is NOT clearly visible.
    I don't see you[r] cite for this. :?
    I was unaware that I needed to cite my opinion.

    I have provided how it is in the LEO world and there is no cite for what is used to determine if you should be arrested for a concealed weapon.

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    Smurfologist wrote:
    vt357 wrote:
    LEO 229 wrote:
    Clearly visible is the ability to see your weapon in some manner if they were on one side of you or another.

    If you are wearing a holster on your right hip ANYONE standing to your left would not see it but if they were to move to your other side or the other window they could.

    So easily seen is just that. The weapon must be able to be seen on your person regardless of your situation.

    In the small of your back would be blocked by the seat. On your right hip in a vehicle where the view from the right side would be blocked. Both examples of a weapon that is NOT clearly visible.
    I agree with pretty much everything that you just said. But just to make this conversation interesting, I'll play devil's advocate and take your example to the nth degree.

    What about going to a restaurant that serves alcohol where one must OC? If you sit down in a booth with your firearm to the wall, where basically nobody can see it (even though it is being carried openly on your hip), should that be illegal? Should you have to sit with the strong side facing out?
    vt357,

    When you enter a restaurant (that sells alcohol for consumption on its premises), you must OC (I am talking about LACs). You are acknowledged as having a weapon as soon as you enter the restaurant (although it may not be noticed, hence, it may not be acknowledged). But, you areOCing legally per the law (I'm sure someone will post the actual statute).

    2nd Amendment........Use it..........Or, lose it!!:X
    I would agree that once you entered it was clearly visible and the staff sat you down where they wanted to.

    If you are placed in a booth your gun is visible onlyto the person sitting next to you... it is still clearly visible.The code does not say WHO has to see it, right? So the person sitting next to you can see it and yourwould.. IMO be legit.

    Now the purpose is so that thebusinessdo not over serve you while armed. But this is not even stated or clearly spelled out in the code.


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    Regular Member MeBaby's Avatar
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    LEO 229 wrote:
    MeBaby wrote:
    LEO 229 wrote:
    Clearly visible is the ability to see your weapon in some manner if they were on one side of you or another.

    If you are wearing a holster on your right hip ANYONE standing to your left would not see it but if they were to move to your other side or the other window they could.

    So easily seen is just that. The weapon must be able to be seen on your person regardless of your situation.

    In the small of your back would be blocked by the seat. On your right hip in a vehicle where the view from the right side would be blocked. Both examples of a weapon that is NOT clearly visible.
    I don't see you[r] cite for this. :?
    I was unaware that I needed to cite my opinion.

    I have provided how it is in the LEO world and there is no cite for what is used to determine if you should be arrested for a concealed weapon.

    Doesn't the LEO world operate off of either law or department policy or hopefully policy derived from law? I would assume that you are drawing your opinion from one or the other so I'm trying to get you to state where your opinion is coming from.

    It also didn't appear to be stated as an opinion.

    Oh, and you don't really want to start editing English do you? You would keep us all busy editing yours.


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    Smurfologist wrote:
    kenny wrote:
    LEO 229 wrote:
    Clearly visible is the ability to see your weapon in some manner if they were on one side of you or another.

    If you are wearing a holster on your right hip ANYONE standing to your left would not see it but if they were to move to your other side or the other window they could.

    So easily seen is just that. The weapon must be able to be seen on your person regardless of your situation.

    In the small of your back would be blocked by the seat. On your right hip in a vehicle where the view from the right side would be blocked. Both examples of a weapon that is NOT clearly visible.
    I think this question will have to answered in a court of law. One or more person's opinion does not it law or correct. I would like to see a locality ask the AG for his opinion. Realistically speaking it is impossible for an OC'ers weapon to be visible from all angles. Therefore a judge or jury could/would not convict.
    Kenny, would you (at least) agree that a handgunwould bemore clearly visible on a dashboard than in a holster on someone's waistby a LEO if stopped (just curious)?

    Either it is or it isn't. If I were stopped by an officer and I was OCing I would notify him/her of the fact while both hands are firmly placed on the steering wheel. I think a lot will depend on the circumstances of the stop.

    Whatever happens or does not happen will be a action or reaction of you and the officer.

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator longwatch's Avatar
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    LEO 229 wrote:

    Now the purpose is so that thebusinessdo not over serve you while armed. But this is not even stated or clearly spelled out in the code.
    Well then how do you know that? Not saying your wrong but do you have a cite for that claim? Personally, I believe that the antis f'd up when they put that poison pill there in 1995, not realizing their error in not banning OC.

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