Cops, Traffic Stops – and CHPs
over-aggressive cops are unfortunately a reality.
Which is why its probably a good idea to get your concealed
handgun permit (CHP) if you carry a gun with you in a car.
especially in states where open carry is legal.
Let me explain
In my own state
of Virginia, for example, it is perfectly legal to have a gun lying
openly on the seat beside you even if you dont have
a permit. It is also a perfectly good way to end up getting shot
the cop who shoots you uttering the magic words officer
safety to justify his actions.
Bear in mind
the fact that a cops testimony is almost always taken as presumptively
truthful while the testimony of a non-cop is considered presumptively
untruthful. Or not considered at all. You assuming you are
still alive will have to support your testimony for
it to be given any weight in court. Let alone equal weight.
or audio corroboration, in court, the cops word wins over
yours every time. He says, I saw a gun and its
all over before you can get in a word edgewise.
rewind a little bit and consider a traffic stop scenario:
You are stopped
by police for some reason (or no reason at all, if its one
of those egregious Fourth Amendment-free zones they call safety
checkpoints). You have your handgun with you in the car. The law
says this is legal, provided the weapon is in plain sight
and not concealed, for which youd need a permit.
Remember: If you dont have a CHP and the gun
is not plainly visible you are setting yourself up
for a felony bust. Since you dont want that, you put the gun
on the seat beside you, all nice and legal and wait for Officer
Unfriendly to approach.
this is what you are supposed to do according to the law.
But you probably know what will happen or whats likely
to happen when the cop walks up to your vehicle and spots
a gun in plain view.
carry or not, the situation is going to get tense real quick.
Cops have been given a thorough course in Authoritarian Over-Reaction
101. Some are just looking for a reason to release their Inner Chimp.
If you have bad luck and have to deal with such a cop, the mere
sight of your gun may set him off and before you have a chance
to say anything, its very possible youll be staring
down the barrel of his gun.
being able to say something before he sees something
is the key thing here.
If you have
a CHP, you have the opportunity to say something specifically,
that you are a CHP holder before the cop sees your
It could very
well save your life.
first thing the cop sees will not be a handgun. Because as a CHP
permit holder, your handgun is legally concealed in
your waistband, on your hip, in the glovebox wherever. The
point is its out of plain sight.
And more to
the point, legally out of plain sight.
This will give
you that possibly precious moment or three to advise the cop that
you are a CHP holder. Hell know about the permit before he
knows you have a gun.
And the fact
that you are a CHP holder may defuse the tension all by itself
even though you may have a loaded gun on you. Why? Because the fact
that you are a permit holder tells the cop right away that youve
got no felony convictions in your background. Ergo, you are probably
not a threat to officer safety. At least, it will be
harder for him to so claim, in the event of an unjustified escalation.
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[send him mail] is an automotive
columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2012 Eric Peters
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