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Thread: Surrendering your sidearm at a traffic stop

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    This question came up on another board.

    If I'm pulled over for a traffic violation and the officer asks if I have any firearms in the car (legally) and I answer yes, does he/she have the authority to demand I turn it over?



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    And second to that, are you obligated to tell him the truth? Or tell him anything at all?

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    I don't know about surrendering your firearm, but I can tell you that lying is abou the worst thing you could do. If you don't want to tell the truth, just shut your mouth, don't make anything up. You are not obligated to say anything at all.

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    Yeah you can get in a lot of trouble for lying to an LEO.

    But I'm curious as to the answer to the gun confiscation question as well. I mean, they often run your serial number when they take it. I am opposed to this and would like to avoid it if at all possible.

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    Never ever say anything to them. Request your ticket, and leave. If they ask you anything, you tell them that you will discuss nothing and that they can talk with your lawyer in court if they want to know anything else... if they really want to violate your rights.... let them... but never tell them anything... anything you say WILL be used against you. Remember, you cannot be compelled to tell them anything. You have the 5th Amendment protecting you. Do not give them any rope... Of course, be friendly, and jovial while saying "I will always invoke my 5th Amendment rights sir, and we can hash anything you'd like in court once I go in to contest this ticket."
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    I don't agree with the above post, but I respect the opinion. You are setting yourself up for an adversarial position, by refusing to say anything at all, and immediately pulling the lawyer/court card. But it is a free and open choice.

    In Washington you have no obligation to inform LE.

    I have been pulled over, and my usual routine is, License, Reg, insurance, CCW (IF I am carrying)

    Usually you are asked are you armed, and depending on who the cop is, and their comfort level, you may or may not be asked to surrender it during the stop.

    I have been on the other end of the stop as the officer making a stop, and I have had people who have not been honest with me about a weapon, whether knife or gun.

    And i'll tell you that when I discover it after asking about weapons, and being told "no" It's gonna P.O. me something fierce. Cause now i'm thinking what are you hiding, why weren't you straight with me, and i become concerned about my safety.

    If you lie, you are gonna get the book thrown at you. Although you have a right to be armed, Police have a right to feel as safe as possible in the commission of their duties. They deal with the scum of the earth many times, and although you may be an upstanding person, if you aren't honest, they are gonna lump you in the first catagory.

    Respect, and openness goes a LONG ways both towards cooperation, and to NOT getting a ticket.

    The only times I have been disarmed by LE was when there were extenuating circumstances (Non traffic related). Dog attack on me... drunken fight that I was witness too, (Too many unknown persons) I have never been disarmed at a traffic stop, when I was open about carrying I was asked once, and replied "I am not comfortable with that, this is a busy hwy, and I am not comfortable getting out of the vehicle with traffic, and with you removing the weapon from me, I will be more then happy to leave my hands in plain sight during this stop." I was not disarmed, and I was told to not worry about it, and be comfortable, and thanked for being honest, didn't get a ticket either. Although I did deserve one.

    Most often, if you are respectful "Yes sir, No sir" And don't make um uncomfortable, they won't bother with disarming you.

    And for god sakes, if you keep your gun in the glove box with you reg, and insurance, NOTIFY the officer that the gun is in their, BEFORE you try and retrieve it.

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    There was a US supreme court case sort of about this, that reviewed one out of Pennsylvania I believe. I don't recall the name at the moment.
    It basically says that a traffic stop has the same rule as Terry stops as far as weapons go; if the officer perceives that you may be armed and constitute a potential threat, then they can search you as per Terry v Ohio. I believe that this also means that they can take the weapon, even if legally carried, because the may consider it a threat, same as in Terry.
    They can also order you out of the vehicle, no special circumstance, it's at the officers' discretion.

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    1. Don't lie.

    2. Don't tell the truth.

    How does that work? Simple: it works exactly the same way it works for the officer who has no justification for a legal stop. If you ask, "Am I being detained?", he answers, "I need you to keep your hands where I can see them, and show me your identification."

    Vice versa, When he asks if you have any firearms or weapons or anything else he "needs to know about", you answer, "Officer, I don't have any illegal weapons or contraband at all."

    Neither of you lied. Neither answered the question that was asked. This is taught in academy and FTO, and Joe Q. needs to learn the technique as well.


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    cynicist wrote:
    There was a US supreme court case sort of about this, that reviewed one out of Pennsylvania I believe.* I don't recall the name at the moment.
    It basically says that a traffic stop has the same rule as Terry stops as far as weapons go; if the officer perceives that you may be armed and constitute a potential threat, then they can search you as per Terry v Ohio.* I believe that this also means that they can take the weapon, even if legally carried, because the may consider it a threat, same as in Terry.
    They can also order you out of the vehicle, no special circumstance, it's at the officers' discretion.

    Bzzzzz... Wrong on one important part...

    The wording on Terry Vs. Ohio..

    The key wording was 'currently armed and dangerous'..

    Ie, just because you're armed doesn't mean you're dangerous... An officer taking your gun at a traffic stop is tantamount to a character assasination, because for all intents and purposes the officer is saying that you're a dangerous person who can't be trusted....

    5. Where a reasonably prudent officer is warranted in the circumstances of a given case in believing that his safety or that of others is endangered, he may make a reasonable search for weapons of the person believed by him to be armed and dangerous [p3] regardless of whether he has probable cause to arrest that individual for crime or the absolute certainty that the individual is armed.
    So, an officer must be able to articulate what makes you dangerous, mere posession of a firearm does not make one dangerous.
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    Ie, just because you're armed doesn't mean you're dangerous... An officer taking your gun at a traffic stop is tantamount to a character assasination, because for all intents and purposes the officer is saying that you're a dangerous person who can't be trusted....
    The case I am referring to (I'm actually looking for it now) stated that because 30% of police shootings happened when they had pulled a car over, it was "reasonable" to order out of a vehicle and pat the subject down. They don't need "probable cause" on the danger. It's like a shoplifting suspect who didn't fight back when the store employee stopped him- could the cop take this CPLed pistol?

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    Pennsylvania v Mimms

    also see Maryland v Wilson


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    @triehl27, While I completely understand that a law enforcement job is dangerous at best, and while I agree that officers should be able to keep themselves as safe as possible, there is a sticking point I noticed in your post. You say that citizens have a right to be armed but police have a right to be safe. The right of a citizen to be armed is quantified, legally, in the US constitution and most state constitutions. I don't see a nebulous code paragraph about a police officer's right to feel and/or be safe, other than the same laws that protect every other citizen (ie. punishments for harming another person).

    One is supported by law, and one, while common sense, can be used to justify all kinds of reduced civil liberties. If you're going to take my gun, you might as well handcuff me and tase me first before you talk to me about my speeding violation, just so there's no chance I could harm you. As long as my hands stay away from the gun, it's probably safer for you to leave it where it is than to try to remove it, especially if it's an unfamiliar model.

    I have always done my best to be honest with the policemen I've encountered, and I've always regretted the limitations self-preservation imposes on our conversations. Is it too much to ask for an honest answer to "am I free to go?" You'd probably feel more comfortable knowing that I'd tell you if I had a weapon, and I'd feel a lot more comfortable discussing things with you if I knew whether or not it was a consensual chat.

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    cynicist wrote:
    Pennsylvania v Mimms

    also see Maryland v Wilson
    There was never a doubt about if they can ask you to get out of the car...

    Even in Mimms it was stated that the pat/frisk still must fall under Terry guidelines of having reason to believe the occupant is both armed and dangerous.
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    NavyLT wrote:

    If the cop asks do you have any weapons, and you answer yes, now the officer has RAS that you are armed. Notice in this quote is does not say dangerous, just armed. The officer now has the legal ability to perform a frisk search and to seize any weapons found for the purpose of officer protection only. Without RAS that there is something illegal about the possession of that firearm, the officer cannot legally run the serial number of that gun because now the officer has crossed the line to gathering evidence.
    If a weapon is seized for Officer safety (permission isn't necessary) or any other lawful reason,the serial # is now in plain view, and the Officer may run that #, just as he may run your license #, as he is in lawful possession of it.

    Remember that Officer safety is NOTreliant onthe elements ofaTerry stop or RAS. It can be enacted anytime, anywhere, for any reason that the Officer deems it necessary, and yes it does temporarily suspend one's rights.
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    NavyLT wrote:
    I respectfully disagree. The only reason that the serial came into plain view is because the officer seized the weapon under the rules of officer protection. The serial number was not in plain view before that. The driver's license number is different, because the officer is verifying the current validity of the license in order to operate a motor vehicle, which they are specifically allowed by state law to do.

    The Terry Stop rules specifically state that temporary seizure of a weapon without RAS of a crime associated with that weapon is allowed ONLY for officer protection and NOT for gathering of evidence.
    Point noted, however although the realm of Officer safety may encompass a Terry stop, it is not always limited only to the guidelines of a Terry stop.
    If you have to fight, do not fear death. We will all die one day, so fight skillfully and bravely! And if it is to be that you die, then at least go to God proudly. Meet him as the proud warrior that you are, and not as a sniveling coward. Nobody lives forever.

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    Johnny Law wrote:
    NavyLT wrote:
    I respectfully disagree.* The only reason that the serial came into plain view is because the officer seized the weapon under the rules of officer protection.* The serial number was not in plain view before that.* The driver's license number is different, because the officer is verifying the current validity of the license in order to operate a motor vehicle, which they are specifically allowed by state law to do.

    The Terry Stop rules specifically state that temporary seizure of a weapon without RAS of a crime associated with that weapon is allowed ONLY for officer protection and NOT for gathering of evidence.
    Point noted, however although the realm of Officer safety may encompass a Terry stop, it is not always limited only to the guidelines of a Terry stop.
    cite?

    What case says 'officers can do anything in the name of officer safety that they deem reasonable' ?
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    TechnoWeenie wrote:
    cite?

    What case says 'officers can do anything in the name of officer safety that they deem reasonable' ?
    My apoligies, I have a rather long document in a different computer (not available at the moment) that explains it in detail. I will post it later today.Officer safety is not based on court cases, nor is itaddressed in aRCW, so I totally understand that it is a hard concept to grasp. Nevertheless, it exists and is upheld in the courts.
    If you have to fight, do not fear death. We will all die one day, so fight skillfully and bravely! And if it is to be that you die, then at least go to God proudly. Meet him as the proud warrior that you are, and not as a sniveling coward. Nobody lives forever.

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    If it's not a law and not based on court cases, then how is it even remotely possible for them to do it and get away with it? This sounds like a blatant violation of constitutional rights, with the courts as co-conspirators.

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    Johnny Law wrote:
    TechnoWeenie wrote:
    cite?

    What case says 'officers can do anything in the name of officer safety that they deem reasonable' ?
    My apoligies, I have a rather long document in a different computer (not available at the moment) that explains it in detail. I will post it later today.*Officer safety is not based on court cases, nor is it*addressed in a*RCW, so I totally understand that it is a hard concept to grasp. Nevertheless, it exists and is upheld in the courts.

    If it's been upheld in courts then there is case history.

    Otherwise, it sounds like a case of 'well, that's what everyone else does, and what we've always done...'
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    I had this very situation happen to me this morning. WSP pulled me over for speeding, came up to the passenger side of my vehicle to get license, insurance, and registration. I gave him the license and insurance from my wallet and I told him the registration was in the glove compartment along with a holstered pistol. He became nervous, reached down from the open window and put his hand on the latch, paused and told me not to make any sudden movements or reach for anything. He opened the glove compartment and first grabbed the firearm, the registration was laying right under it so he then picked that up. Checked the registration and put it back, then asked for CPL, looked it over, gave it back along with my insurance and took my DL and Glock back to his car. He returned with the gun removed from the holster, magazine ejected and the slide locked back. Put it all in the glove compartment and closed it, then handed me my ticket and told me I could reload when I wanted.

    So, how do I find out if he ran the serial number?

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    Johnny Law wrote:
    TechnoWeenie wrote:
    cite?

    What case says 'officers can do anything in the name of officer safety that they deem reasonable' ?
    My apoligies, I have a rather long document in a different computer (not available at the moment) that explains it in detail. I will post it later today.Officer safety is not based on court cases, nor is itaddressed in aRCW, so I totally understand that it is a hard concept to grasp. Nevertheless, it exists and is upheld in the courts.
    If it's upheld in court, then there would be court cases to base it on. However, you say that it's not based on court cases. It's either one or the other. If it is upheld in court and there are court cases, please provide a cite or names of the court cases so we can look them up.

    ETA. Beat me to it Techno.
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    5918mike wrote:
    I had this very situation happen to me this morning. WSP pulled me over for speeding, came up to the passenger side of my vehicle to get license, insurance, and registration. I gave him the license and insurance from my wallet and I told him the registration was in the glove compartment along with a holstered pistol. He became nervous, reached down from the open window and put his hand on the latch, paused and told me not to make any sudden movements or reach for anything. He opened the glove compartment and first grabbed the firearm, the registration was laying right under it so he then picked that up. Checked the registration and put it back, then asked for CPL, looked it over, gave it back along with my insurance and took my DL and Glock back to his car. He returned with the gun removed from the holster, magazine ejected and the slide locked back. Put it all in the glove compartment and closed it, then handed me my ticket and told me I could reload when I wanted.

    So, how do I find out if he ran the serial number?
    If he took it back to his car, he ran the serial number. If you want a record of it, you'll have to submit a FOIA request, although they might deny it happened.

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    Actually I completely understand them taking the gun back to the car, I'm surprised that other officers I tell don't, a few months ago a Marysville cop gave me a seatbelt ticket and he let me retreive the registration from the glove compartment after I told him that there was a gun in there, never even looked at my CPL and left the gun alone.

    I was just wondering how one would even tell they ran the numbers if they did, I am not concerned about it in the least though.

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    I'm going on what I've seen from officers on these and other gun forums - it seems to be pretty much SOP to run the serial on any gun they see, to check whether or not it's stolen. Maybe that's different in this state, or with this particular department or officer. I don't know for 100% sure, absolutely positively that the officer ran this particular serial number, but he *most likely* did, and a FOIA request will have to be filed if you want to know for sure.

    I'm not disputing the fact that it's helpful in some situations for officers to be able to temporarily confiscate a firearm, or that it's safer for them, or that they'd really like to do it. I'm disputing their legal right to do it, if I tell them I don't consent.

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    NavyLT, I have to completely disagree. Just as I cannot condone an officer disarming an OCer for walking down the street, I cannot condone an officer disarming someone in their car. Unless he has probable cause that I have or am going to commit a crime, he has no reason to disarm me. If he has probable cause, then why hasn't he already charged me with a crime? Cops don't get to take people's weapons just because they want to. They have to reasonably suspect me of something, and then they need to arrest me or let me go.

    If I am pulled over, I volunteer nothing. I consent to no search or seizure of my property. If I am searched or have my property seized without consent, that officer can be guaranteed of a long fight ahead of him for his indiscretions. Since officers are no longer working for the people, but against them, treat them as the enemy and don't make their process to violate your rights and remove your freedom any easier than it already is.

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