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Thread: First police encounter while OC'ing

  1. #1
    Regular Member GreatWhiteLlama's Avatar
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    We had our first sun break in a while yesterday so I decided to walk to the grocery store with the G/F to get a few things for dinner. While waiting to cross the only intersection between our place and the Safeway, a Bellevue patrol car drove by and by the body language of the officer, I knew that he had noticed I was OC'ing.

    Although I knew he had seen me, he did not immediately turn around so I thought it would be a non issue, but as we were walking in to the store I saw a BPD car pull up to the curb at the other end of the building and realized I would be having a confrontation.

    As I was awaiting the inevitable conversation, I began inspecting the current lot of bananas. Just as I found a bunch, I heard over my shoulder, "excuse me sir". I turned around and responded with a pleasant, "hello". He asked "would you mind if I spoke with you for a minute?" and gestured towards a little farther down the aisle. I said "sure" and walked with him a couple feet farther down. He then stated, "The reason that I am here is that I saw that you were carrying". I responded with, "I thought you had noticed it but I wasn't sure if you were going to stop". He then replied with, "well, the reason I did was because you have your gun partially concealed" (my holster is an IWB that I carry in the front, right-hand side). After he said this, I couldn't help but grin and say, "yeah, but it's exposed". He smiled and said, "yes, but it's also concealed". I responded again with, “yeah, but it’s exposed”. He then responded with “I wasn’t sure if it was considered open carrying or concealed so I contacted my lieutenant who told me that since it was partially concealed, you had to have a license”.

    OK, I know at this point I could have argued or put up some type of resistance, but considering that the entire exchange up to that point had been relatively easy going, I figured I would hold off and see where the conversation was going to go.

    He finally asked if I had a CPL. I told him that I did and handed it to him. He looked it over and then asked if he could see my license. Again, I know that I would be within my rights to refuse, but I was more curious to see where he was intending to go with our little encounter than to stand some type of ground… Just as he began writing down my license number he received a transmission on his radio asking for his location. He looked up at me and said, “Don’t worry, we always have an extra officer show up when a gun is involved”. Shortly thereafter, two more officers came around the corner to join us. He immediately looked to the officers and said, “It’s OK, were code ‘X’”, (I forget which code he said). He then asked if I always “carry like that” and I told him that I did. He simply said “OK” and finished writing down my information. The most surprising statement made by the officer was, “I really appreciate your handling of this. I’ve come across a few other people that open carry and they always get excited and make a big deal out of me talking with them”. I was a little taken back with this and could only respond with, “really? I guess I’m just too laid back for that”.
    The officer then handed back my ID and CPL and started in with the inevitable, “you know that carrying like that can scare people, blah blah blah”. I told him that I knew that that was a possibility and that I carried an information pamphlet for just such an emergency and pulled out the Washington Gun Rights Pamphlet (Thanks guy’s )and tried to hand it to him. He graciously declined so I tried talking the other officers into taking it, “How about you? RCW’s! They’re exciting reading!” They grinned and scurried off…

    He finished by apologizing for taking time away from my grocery shopping and left.

    There was a bit more to the exchange, but it happened yesterday and a few of the details are escaping me. I was however left with a feeling of only slight annoyance as I knew that technically they had no reason to confront me, but at the same time, there are now at least 3 BPD officers that will not have a need to approach me in the future as they know that I am a level headed, “average Joe” citizen simply exercising my rights.

    And besides, I got them all to laugh
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  2. #2
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    I think you did fine. If his LT told him that partially concealed requires a CPL you would not have won the argument on the street and it could have ended up bad if you refused whether you were right or not. The outcome you had is much better than being a test case for the courts to decide what concealed means.
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  3. #3
    Regular Member FMCDH's Avatar
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    In my opinion, you handled it perfectly.

    A few observations however...

    Although the officer was obviously fishing and pushing the line of concealed vs. open, it could have been argued on your part that since he was able to determine it was a pistol from within a vehicle, at a distance, it would be considered "open carry" by any reasonable court should he wish to push it that far.

    I respect that you probably made the mental decision that playing along would go much better for both of you overall in that instance.

    As for Concealed vs. Open, the general definition that most states use is as follows.

    Definition of concealed:
    A firearm or dangerous weapon is concealed if it is carried in such a manner as to not be discernible by the ordinary observation of a passerby. There is no requirement that there be absolute invisibility of the firearm or dangerous weapon, merely that it not be ordinarily discernible.


    In addition, those states that statutorily allow, or where it is common practice to open carry a firearm, the courts follow the following, in part...

    A firearm or dangerous weapon is not considered concealed if it is:
    1. Carried in a belt holster which is wholly or substantially visible or carried in a case designed for carrying a firearm or dangerous weapon and which is wholly or substantially visible.
    I personally think you did great and dealt with it well. Others may disagree, but I don't personally think all LEO are out to get us, just some.

    Ref: http://definitions.uslegal.com/c/concealed-weapons





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    Regular Member Machoduck's Avatar
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    T-RaV, I've just done a word search of RCW 9.41 for the word "concealed" and found only one instance where it was used in any context other than concealed permitting etc. No definition. No reference to permissible methods of concealed carry (or non.) No references to holsters at all. The one instance I referred to was in .280 where, when on school grounds, you must store your pistol in your car concealed...etc.

    Therefore, the cop who questioned you was talking out of his ass or his Lieutenant was. Their job is to enforce the law, not the opinion of some guy, whoever he is. That's the reason laws are written down; so we can read them ourselves and know what constitutes legal behavior.

    Don't let anyone tell you that you handled it poorly; it was an excellent learning experience. For example, the fact that he asked if he could talk with you was an admission that he had no grounds for a Terry stop. He and his Lieutenant put together couldn't pass Remedial Reading 101, if this is the best they could come up with.

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    Regular Member FMCDH's Avatar
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    Machoduck wrote:
    T-RaV, I've just done a word search of RCW 9.41 for the word "concealed" and found only one instance where it was used in any context other than concealed permitting etc. No definition. No reference to permissible methods of concealed carry (or non.) No references to holsters at all. The one instance I referred to was in .280 where, when on school grounds, you must store your pistol in your car concealed...etc.
    Thank you, I forgot to tack that on to the end of my post!

    Amendment to my post above is as follows...

    "On the mater of the definition for concealed in Washington state, the RCWs are basically mute. In RCW 9.41.010, Terms Defined, the word Concealed or Hidden is not to be found." :quirky

  6. #6
    Regular Member FMCDH's Avatar
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    Double Tap.

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    Regular Member FMCDH's Avatar
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    Grr... Head shot.

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    Also don't forget that you pretty much have to show your CPL on demand. The language is sketchy, so I usually just show it. Sometimes it makes things end faster too. It's a choice you have to make though.

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    Regular Member Machoduck's Avatar
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    What can I say FMCDH, you're a very prolific poster. :P

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    Also don't forget that you pretty much have to show your CPL on demand.
    ... when you're actually carrying concealed.

  11. #11
    Regular Member SpyderTattoo's Avatar
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    kparker wrote:
    Also don't forget that you pretty much have to show your CPL on demand.
    ... when you're actually carrying concealed.
    I was going to say this, you beat me to it. I personally like to leave my CPL in my truck most of the time. I actually had an incedent a few months back where a couple officers wanted to speak with me and asked if I cover up so we could "talk". I told them I didn't have my CPL on my person, and he told me "That's ok for now, we're just going to go outside and talk" so I asked, "So you're asking me to break the law so we can go outside and talk?" That was the end of that line of questioning from him. I also like to walk my dog early in the morning while OC'ing. I do not carry my CPL and I also don't carry my driver's license with me. This isn't communist Russia... "YOUR PAPERS PLEASE!!!"
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    Notice that's why I said pretty much.

    Also when you have a cop insisting you are carrying concealed, they'll end up detaining you to get that document if you don't produce it. You're call there. I CC and OC throughout the day so I have mine with me at any given time anyway...

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    FMCDH wrote:
    Machoduck wrote:
    T-RaV, I've just done a word search of RCW 9.41 for the word "concealed" and found only one instance where it was used in any context other than concealed permitting etc.* No definition.* No reference to permissible methods of concealed carry (or non.)* No references to holsters at all.* The one instance I referred to was in .280 where, when on school grounds, you must store your pistol in your car concealed...etc.*
    Thank you, I forgot to tack that on to the end of my post!

    Amendment to my post above is as follows...

    "On the mater of the definition for concealed in Washington state, the RCWs are basically mute. In RCW 9.41.010, Terms Defined, the word Concealed or Hidden is not* to be found." :quirky
    And my point exactly. It would take a case in front of a judge to define concealed in our state because the RCW's lack the definition. If an Officer, in good faith, believes that concealed means the gun is partially concealed then arguing is the last thing to do, unless you want to be the test case.

    Having an IWB is arguable that it is wholly or substantially visible. When I use my IWB the grip is visible but it definitely would not qualify as wholly or substantially visible.

    Having concealed defined does take away the opinion of the equation and gives less of a standing for an encounter like the OP had.
    "A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity."

    "though I walk through the valley in the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for I know that you are by my side" Glock 23:40

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    Honestly I think that's a pretty good encounter for around here. IMO the way you handled it was positive and will help things -- when that officer has to deal with gun owners he'll be calmer etc from having dealt with people like you in a reasonable manner.

    Thank you!

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    Regular Member FMCDH's Avatar
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    tai4de2 wrote:
    Honestly I think that's a pretty good encounter for around here. IMO the way you handled it was positive and will help things -- when that officer has to deal with gun owners he'll be calmer etc from having dealt with people like you in a reasonable manner.

    Thank you!
    Exactly!

    Mundane and routine is exactly how we want these things to go down when or if they are deemed necessary to go down at all. The more "common" and uneventful these kinds of contacts are, the better.

    Generally, we want LEOs and the 911 dispatchers to tell MWAG callers that if the person in question is not holding it in their hand and or threatening someone with it, mind your own business. Its legal, its a protected right, welcome to United States!

  16. #16
    Regular Member FMCDH's Avatar
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    Machoduck wrote:
    What can I say FMCDH, you're a very prolific poster. :P
    I swear officer! It wasn't me, it was the one armed server!

  17. #17
    Regular Member GreatWhiteLlama's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input guys. I'm glad you are all here to provide such a great resource
    "...our media are palace eunuchs gazing avidly at the harem of power and stroking their impotent pens in time to the rape of our liberties."
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    "America is at that awkward stage; it's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards."
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  18. #18
    Regular Member shad0wfax's Avatar
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    There is a reference to the term concealed in some Attorney General Opinions on the WA legal website. The term that is used is "furtive attempt to conceal" and furtive is the operative word here. It implies criminal or at least questionable motives for concealing, as opposed to accidental, coincidental, or partial concealment.

    As others have pointed out, since it was cleary identifiable as a handgun from a distance, one could argue that it was therefore obvious enough to not be concealed, especially since your demeanor was normal and you were not making furtive or suspicious efforts to hide.

    You did handle it well and I'm glad the officers responded politely and left with a good impression, even if they did overstep their bounds slightly.

    Leaving officers with a good impression of OC'ers is priceless.

  19. #19
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    shad0wfax wrote:
    There is a reference to the term concealed in some Attorney General Opinions on the WA legal website. The term that is used is "furtive attempt to conceal" and furtive is the operative word here. It implies criminal or at least questionable motives for concealing, as opposed to accidental, coincidental, or partial concealment.

    As others have pointed out, since it was cleary identifiable as a handgun from a distance, one could argue that it was therefore obvious enough to not be concealed, especially since your demeanor was normal and you were not making furtive or suspicious efforts to hide.

    You did handle it well and I'm glad the officers responded politely and left with a good impression, even if they did overstep their bounds slightly.

    Leaving officers with a good impression of OC'ers is priceless.
    I have read the AG definition of concealed but it really does not matter how he defines it. Because there is not definition in the RCW's you will get all sorts of definitions from officers as to what it means. If pushed hard enough by someone they will have to go in front of a judge and plead their case, more then likely it will be successful but why take the chance.

    Leaving an officer with good impressions of open carriers is good but only for the person in question. They will always form an individual opinion of each person they meet. If they don't then I question their ability to do the job without complacency and safety.
    "A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity."

    "though I walk through the valley in the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for I know that you are by my side" Glock 23:40

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