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Thread: Traffic stop - Do you have to tell them you're armed?

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    I can't seem to find the answer to this in the forums (or anywhere else for that matter). In AL, does the law state that you must inform a LEO that you are carrying a gun when they pull you over for a traffic stop? I would think that, obviously, if the LEO asks you to step out of the car that you should let them know before stepping out, just for everyone's safety. But, from what I'm reading, some states have a law stating that you must inform a police officer that you are armed immediately, no matter what. Does anyone know for sure about AL law on this matter?

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    Alabama is not a must inform state. There is much debate on whether you should anyway or not...but ultimately, the choice is yours. Use your judgment for the situation.
    States donít have rights. People do.

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    Varies state to state. VA yes; CO, NHno. I would because there is a substantial chance doing so may get you a warning rather than a ticket.
    "For any man who sheds his blood with me this day shall be my brother...And gentlemen now abed shall think themselves accursed, they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speaks who fought with us on Crispin's day." Henry V

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    Gunslinger wrote:
    Varies state to state. VA yes;
    Cite, please; I'm rather familiar with Virginia firearms law and I am unaware of any such requirement.

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    Regular Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    Tosta Dojen wrote:
    Gunslinger wrote:
    Varies state to state. VA yes;
    Cite, please; I'm rather familiar with Virginia firearms law and I am unaware of any such requirement.
    My mistake. What I should have said is that VA cops know you have a CCW if they run your plate/DL. You do not have to inform them, but if you have a weapon in the car, it makes sense to do so because they will ask.
    "For any man who sheds his blood with me this day shall be my brother...And gentlemen now abed shall think themselves accursed, they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whilst any speaks who fought with us on Crispin's day." Henry V

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    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but even if the cop does ask you if you have a weapon in the vehicle... I don't believe you have to tell them. I would certainly not advise lying to the police, but the police do not have all-encompassing power, simply respectfully decline to answer if you don't want to!

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    Incorrect there, LT... Code of Alabama section 15-5-31 states that when a police officer "has stopped a person for questioning pursuant to this article and reasonably suspects that he is in danger of life or limb, he may search such person for a dangerous weapon. If such officer finds such a weapon or any other thing, the possession of which may constitute a crime, he may take and keep it until the completion of the questioning, at which time he shall either return it, if lawfully possessed, or arrest such person."

    So first, the officer has to reasonably suspect danger of life or limb. And then, only if your possession of your gun may constitute a crime may he relieve you of it.

    I personally, would not give up my weapon (if possible without causing a scene), as I don't know if the guy is trained or proficient in handling my gun. I think it would be much safer for it to stay tucked away in my holster.

    Just my .02 though, to each his own.

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    NavyLT wrote:

    Personally, my opinion is, if in a state not requiring notification, do not volunteer info regarding the presence of firearms. But, if asked and answered, and if carrying on the person, and the cop wants to disarm me at that point.... "Go right ahead, officer."
    "I do not consent to this but i will not prevent you from taking it."


    LEO: "Do you have any weapons in the vehicle?"
    U: "I have nothing that you need to worry about."

    Its not lying...
    States donít have rights. People do.

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    I'm not a lawyer but I can tell you that if you say anything about having a firearm the stop will take on a different tone and will cause you more trouble than is lawfully allowed and that you care to deal with.

    I can think of no reason to tell a cop you have a firearm unless you're about to be frisked for weapons (outside an automobile) pursuant to Terry vs. Ohio. In this case it might be appropriate to tell the cop about a firearm. If he asks don't lie.

    When inside one's car for anything other than a DUI or accident, which might result in one's being outside an automobile and where a search might ensue, there is no good reason to mention one being armed. Once you do that you're at a disadvantage and will be regarded as a suspect.

    As long as your seated quietly and lawfully in your car, you will not benefit at any time by telling a cop that you're armed. It will in most cases be used against you. Let him write his ticket so that you can get down the road and away from him.

    Being a smart ass and saying things to tweak a cop won't work well for you either. Cops aren't your friends and collectively they possess an us against them mentality. Telling a cop, "I have nothing that you need to worry about" is certain to go bad for anyone dumb enough to repeat it.

    Keeping a low profile is the operative phrase here. Don't prolong a police encounter by being ignorant, abrasive, and stupid.

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    ColMustard wrote:
    I'm not a lawyer but I can tell you that if you say anything about having a firearm the stop will take on a different tone and will cause you more trouble than is lawfully allowed and that you care to deal with.

    I can think of no reason to tell a cop you have a firearm unless you're about to be frisked for weapons (outside an automobile) pursuant to Terry vs. Ohio. In this case it might be appropriate to tell the cop about a firearm. If he asks don't lie.

    When inside one's car for anything other than a DUI or accident, which might result in one's being outside an automobile and where a search might ensue, there is no good reason to mention one being armed. Once you do that you're at a disadvantage and will be regarded as a suspect.

    As long as your seated quietly and lawfully in your car, you will not benefit at any time by telling a cop that you're armed. It will in most cases be used against you. Let him write his ticket so that you can get down the road and away from him.

    Being a smart ass and saying things to tweak a cop won't work well for you either. Cops aren't your friends and collectively they possess an us against them mentality. Telling a cop, "I have nothing that you need to worry about" is certain to go bad for anyone dumb enough to repeat it.

    Keeping a low profile is the operative phrase here. Don't prolong a police encounter by being ignorant, abrasive, and stupid.

    I generally agree with this (in no duty to inform states).

    Although, I've seen several forum reports of LEOs who don't think it's a big deal to to a traffic stop with a (legally) armed ciitizen.

    I am interested in this idea Gunslinger mentioned that, somehow, telling the LEO you're armed (in a no duty to inform state) will increase the chance that you will getoff with a warning. Sounds like an urban myth.




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    On my traffic stops I typically ask if there are any guns in the vehicle. So, if an officer asks you can either lie or tell the truth. If you get caught in a lie this this will provide the officer with a large amount of suspicion of criminal activity. If you tell the truth be prepared for the officer to check your permit and possibly run the serial number on the weapon.

    When someone tells me they have a gun in the car I check the permit and simply ask where its located. After I know where it is I just remind them not to reach towards the area where the gun is without letting me know first.
    There's plenty of thugs hiding guns from me. I don't have time to mess with people who appear to be squared away. But that's just the way I handle things. To each officer his own.

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    Depends on the situation and circumstances. Each encounter is different. It all comes down to what an officer can articulate. Reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or personal danger is really very easy to achieve. Once an officer has it, he can frisk and temporarily seize any weapon found to ensure it is lawfully possessed. For further refer to 15-5-31 of AL code.

    I just said be prepared for an officer to take the weapon and run the s/n. Might happen, might not. As far as lying, if you tell and officer there's no gun in the car and he later finds out there is you've generated a lot of suspicion, regardless of whether its warranted or not. If you want to lie, by all means lie. People lie to the cops all the time. We expect it.

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    15-5-31:
    "If such officer finds such a weapon or any other thing, the possession of which may constitute a crime, he may take and keep it until the completion of the questioning, at which time he shall either return it, if lawfully possessed, or arrest such person."

    The key phrase is "possession of which may constitute a crime."

    Possession of a stolen gun is a crime.
    Possession of a handgun in a vehicle without a valid permit is a crime.
    Possession of a gun by a convicted felon is a crime.

    While an officer attempts to confirm that the weapon is legally possessed it may be seized.
    Absent any articulable suspicion any seizure is unjustified.
    It falls back on each officer and what he can articulate.

    I'm not sure where your trying to go with the search for evidence thing. Perhaps you can clarify.

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    Once an officer has legal reason to seize the firearm I find it reasonable to ensure it is lawfully possessed by its owner, as long as doing so doesn't cause the owner of said firearm to be unreasonably detained. Once the firearm is lawfully seized the S/N is in plain view, so there's no search.

    The same thing with any property. If I see an XBOX in your car and I get a lawful reason (via P.C. or consent) to put my hands on it, I think its reasonable to run its' s/n to ensure it isn't stolen.

    I'm not aware of any US Supreme Court ruling indicating otherwise, if you have knowledge of one please share.

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    NavyLT wrote:
    SNIP It will take me some time to find the Supreme Court Case that clearly spells it out.
    I'll say. It will take you a while. Terry don't say nuthin' 'bout traffic stops. Its about a foot encounter and requires two elements: 1) reasonably believesthedetainee is armed, and 2) presently dangerous, in addition tojustification for the stop in the first place.

    We merely hold today that, where a police officer observes unusual conduct which leads him reasonably to conclude in light of his experience that criminal activity may be afoot and that the persons with whom he is dealing may be armed and presently dangerous, where, in the course of investigating this behavior, he identifies himself as a policeman and makes reasonable inquiries, and where nothing in the initial stages of the encounter serves to dispel his reasonable fear for his own or others' safety, he is entitled for the protection of himself and others in the area to conduct a carefully limited search of the outer clothing of such persons in an attempt to discover weapons which might be used to assault him. Terry v Ohio1



    Pennsylvania v Mimms2is more on point for traffic stops.Mimms converts the two prongs of Terry--1) armed and 2) presently dangerous--into a single concept: armed = dangerous:

    The bulge in the jacket permitted the officer to conclude that Mimms was armed, and thus posed a serious and present danger to the safety of the officer. In these circumstances, any man of "reasonable caution" would likely have conducted the "pat down."

    1. http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/htm...2_0001_ZO.html

    2. http://supreme.justia.com/us/434/106/case.html
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

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    Also, notice that Terry says nothing about automatically seizing the firearm at the outset of the encounter. It says after the cop makes his inquiries and nothing inthe initial stages serves to dispel his reasonable fear, then he is entitled to search and seize the weapon.

    How many times have we read about cops seizing OCers guns at the outset of the encounter for officer safety--without even bothering to see if it was just a citizen exercising the basic human right to self-defense?
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    All actions by a police officer must be governed by reason. Absent any suspicion it is unlawful to detain anyone, whether they are armed or not. The lawful carry of a firearm alone is not enough to justify a detention.

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    I love this quote:

    "The frisk, it held, was essential to the proper performance of the officer's investigatory duties, for, without it, "the answer to the police officer may be a bullet, and a loaded pistol discovered during the frisk is admissible."

    from http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/htm...2_0001_ZO.html

    The courts have given and by all indications will continue to give considerable leeway to officers concerning safety issues so long as the officers' actions are reasonable.

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    t.l:

    Terry says that even if the search for weapons is warranted, the search may not "violate the Fourth Amendment by virtue of their intolerable intensity and scope."

    By running the s/n, I would argue that you increased the scope of the search in an intolerable way, changing the purpose of the search from protecting yourself to investigating a crime you had no reason to suspect. I don't know of any ruling that would agree or disagree with that argument.

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    As a courtesy to the officer, I think it would be best to let them know you're armed. I usually don't tell them if it's just a stop checking drivers license and insurance cards, stuff like that. But if they want me to get out of the vehicle, then I let them know. I once got a ticket by a state trooper and he had me sit in the front seat of his car while writing the ticket. I told him when I got out of mine that I had a pistol in my pocket and a permit to carry it. He didn't even ask to see it or wanted me to take it out while writing the ticket.

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    I agree that in AL police can't go around snatching up lawfully possessed guns solely for the purpose of determining if they are stolen or not.
    However, once a firearm has been temporarily seized I don't find it unreasonable to run the s/n so long as it does not extend the duration of the stop for an unreasonable amount of time.

    Once the gun is in my hands I'm going to make sure you can lawfully possess it before I turn it over to you.

    It's a large grey area mostly undefined by case law. Maybe this will change.

    As for the Knowles case, it deals with searches incident to citation, not Terry/Officer safety issues.

    One fact that you guys haven't grasped it how easy it is to articulate reasonable suspicion.

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    How would you articulate the reasonable suspicion that, during a traffic stop, a gun--that the owner told you about and had a permit for--was stolen and that you needed to run its numbers?

    Again, absent RAS that the gun is stolen (or that some criminal activity is going on), I submit that taking the gun for your safety would not permit increasing the scope of your actions to include running the numbers.

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    terminal.logic wrote:

    One fact that you guys haven't grasped it how easy it is to articulate reasonable suspicion.
    Would you mind giving an explanation of of why an officer would articulate reasonable suspicion if the party involved had told the officer that he/she was armed and had a concealed carry permit.

    To obtain a concealed carry permit, one must submit to a criminal background check by their local Sheriff's office, so IMHO that should justify that there would be no reasonable suspicion. And also IMHO it would seem to me that if a person had a concealed carry permit, that would justify that they were highly likely to be a law abiding citizen, don't you think.

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