In comments on the last blog entry here (on the Philando Castile shooting), more than one commenter suggested public service announcements on how to handle traffic stops…particularly if one is legally carrying a gun.

Closest I have to that is one I did about a decade ago on Tom Gresham’s show, Personal Defense TV.  Hope you find it useful.

View video here.


  1. EXCELLENT VIDEO/PSA MAS!!! Everything is professional, and the audio is nice and clear. From 1994 thru 2007 I worked in Master Control for a small TV station, WMBC-TV63. We ran a lot of PSAs. Usually you do not want a PSA to run longer than one minute. I loved PSAs, but they don’t make any money when you air them. The big TV stations will air PSAs, but like I said, if they can stuff the commercial breaks with paid commercials, they are better off.

    I would just say put this video out in segments of 15 seconds, 20 sec. 30 sec. and 60 sec. and distribute it to the various networks and independent TV stations. You might be able to get away with a 2-minute version, who knows?

  2. Just watched this again and it is certainly right on the money. I have been stopped and can testify that it works. Thank you.

  3. What do you do if your shirt doesn’t have pockets?

    Or if you’re in a “constitutional carry” state where you can carry without a permit?

  4. In encounters with LEOs other than traffic stops what should a concealed carrier’s process be? At what point should you produce your license and/or reveal that you have a weapon?

    Do you do it even if there’s no reason to believe that you or your companions are suspected or being questioned about something?

    Let’s try this one: You’re 21 and in college and are walking down the street with a couple of friends. You’re carrying backpacks. You’re lawfully engaging in concealed carry, with a pistol in a waistband holder covered by a jacket. A police car pulls up and the officer gets out and walks over to you in a non-threatening manner. He says that there’s been a liquor store holdup a couple of blocks away and asks if any of you know anything or have seen anything. None of you do know anything and none of you were involved and you say so, but the officer persists, asking why you’re there and what you’re doing and where you’ve just come from. Finally, he asks something like, “Are you sure you don’t know anything? What do you have in those bags?”

    At what point do you reveal that you’re carrying? As soon as he walks up? After he asks the first question? After he asks the more probing questions? After the final question?

  5. Years ago, the Tampa PD was having trouble finding qualified applicants. We ended up hiring a large group of people with prior police experience from places like NYC and Chicago. It fell to me to teach them the differences between criminal law where they came from and Florida criminal law. When I started talking about firearms, they invariably were astounded and essentially went berserk. They were so conditioned to the idea that nobody but cops can have guns, that they were close to panic attacks when I told them to just tell the driver, “If you have a firearm in the car, just don’t touch while I am here.” These cops thought I was insane. No matter what the armed driver says, the officer has to be listening and not panicked for it to be effective.

  6. Mas,

    In the last thread I posted of my actions when I was stopped for a traffic violation on my motorcycle. I related that I raised my hands while still seated on the motorcycle as the officer approached, and verbally advised him of the fact that I was retired law enforcement, that I was armed, and where the weapon was located. This was years prior to the “hands up-don’t shoot” non-sense, false narrative. I don’t think any officer back then would have seen the raising of my hands as an insult. Maybe in today’s world they would.

    I carry my D.L. and LEOSA certificate in my retired officer badge/I.D. case, which I carry in an inside pocket of my vest when riding, 70mph winds can play havoc with the contents of outside vest pockets. I feel it’s important to let the officer choreograph the events to his liking and not letting any ego on my part enter in.

    Something else to keep in mind. When you are stopped by a police officer, you may think it’s for no reason. Rest assured the officer has a reason, or at least believes he has. In my case, heck, there was no doubt in my mind it was for speeding. I was pretty sure, even though our vehicles were travelling in opposite directions, he had got me with moving radar. That was a good guess on my part. It could have been that I, unbeknownst to me, fit the description of a renegade criminal biker gang murder suspect and the officer didn’t even have a radar. Let the officer control the contact. Don’t assume he just picked you to screw with because you don’t believe you’ve done anything wrong.

  7. What’s this, Mas with the PSA already rolled out?! Of course it is!

    Bingo Roger Willco, the first two sentences of post #1 are my thoughts exactly.

  8. Liberal Dave, to answer your questions as best I can:

    If license/reg were not accessible without “reaching for something,” I would state something like “Certainly, officer. Driver’s license is in left hip pocket. To reach it I have to reach down by my right hip to release the seat belt. I am licensed to carry and do have it on, behind the right hip. Tell me how you’d like to handle that.”

    In a permitless carry state, if I was in fact carrying without the permit, I would change the wording to “I’m legal to carry,” etc.

    Inthe sceario of you walking with your college friend when the officer asks to speak to you, know the laws where you are. In some states (Texas, Michigan for example) the permit holder MUST identify himself and the fact that he is carrying during any official contact with the officer, which would encompass the scenario you mention. Even in a consensual contact, you would want to advise the officer that you are licensed to carry and do have it on, ASAP.

  9. I live in California and to be honest our county is very positive about issuing permits. I was stopped by an officer for a red light reprimand. I pushed the yellow apparently. I informed the officer the wife and I both had permitted weapons and kept our hands visible while asking how the officer wanted us to proceed.

    The answer was thank you for informing me and then the dangers of pushing a yellow light at an intersection.

    Our instructor a Highway patrol officer and my son a SWAT Sgt. Both advise not to inform on a traffic stop. The wife and I view it as a respect issue and will continue to advise.


  10. Thank you, Mr. Ayoob, for the very instructive video.

    On the question that Mr. Liberal Dave on being stopped by an officer while walking and carrying a backpack, I have a different perspective which I respectfully present here.

    As citizens we have Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. And so, after answering that they do not know anything about the holdup at the liquor store, they should respectfully respond to the officer, “With all due respect, Officer, I have answered your question truthfully and I will decline to answer more questions that do not concern me. If I am not being detained or arrested, am I free to go?” If the officer presses further, they should continue, still respectfully, “Officer, I decline to answer more questions without my counsel present and I do not consent to search.”

  11. Several years ago I was on a Sunday drive with my girlfriend and her 7 year old son in my Corvair convertible, top down. A CHP, California Highway Patrol officer put on the lights, I stopped on the shoulder and waited for him. I heard him say “hands on the wheel”. I looked over my shoulder and saw his revolver pointed at me.
    I was NOT carrying a gun, thankfully.
    He did not approach any closer than my rear bumper. After a very long minute the went back to his car then came back and said I could go, there had been a armed robbery and their car fit the description of mine, a Corvair convertible with a man, a woman and a 7 year old boy? In reality it was probably just a small white car.
    My guess was that the officer was in a highly excited state, perhaps a rookie. The fact that he did not approach or talk was SCARY. If I had told him I was legally carrying a gun and had a permit I don’t want to guess what that would have translated to in his mind.
    My father and uncle were LE at the time, I knew all local LE officers and not a one would have behaved as that officer did.
    My advice, 99.999% of police officers are level headed professionals. You may encounter one like I did so pay attention and if he speaks listen and comply. Police officers are just human and not perfect

  12. @Stan L.: I don’t disagree with what you say, and agree that it’s the best way to act, but that’s a different issue than what we’re talking about here about what lawful weapon carriers should do in that situation to best protect themselves from deadly misunderstandings.

    Having said that, just let me note that what you say is a summary version of the advice given by the ACLU and several other rights organizations. Here’s the ACLU online version:

  13. Mas: “Even in a consensual contact, you would want to advise the officer that you are licensed to carry and do have it on, ASAP.” So, let’s say you’re at a festival, legally armed, walking around the exhibits munching on a bratwurst on a stick and a fully uniformed LEO comes up from behind you (where they might have seen the bulge under your jacket) and when they get alongside you turn to you and say, “Hey, would you mind telling me where you got that bratwurst?” Do you immediately show your permit and reveal that you’re armed in response?

  14. Stan L.
    The officer in “liberal dave’s” post was not doing anything unusual and it was not an intrusion of privacy or depriving of their ‘rights’.
    Explaining your Constitutional Rights to him could escalate the situation from a casual conversation to “put down your backpack and assume the position”.
    Not good.
    “What do you have in those bags?” Unless it’s something illegal why not tell him/her?

  15. That’s a very educational video. I have an Uncle who has a CCW in Boston, he was pulled over for a traffic violation. When the officer came to the window he kepy his hands on the wheel and calmly told the officer he had a premit and a gun in his belt. Everything went smoothly

  16. Liberal Dave, good question about the cop asking “Where did you get the bratwurst?” You did not waste your law school tuition.

    If within the totality of the circumstances, I took that as a request as to where to find tasty food, I would not consider it an official law enforcement contact and would answer, “At the Brat Barn, right over there, officer. I hope you enjoy yours as much as I’m enjoying mine. Have a nice evening.”

    If it turned out that he was looking for a person who had snatched a bratwurst without paying for it, I would say “Officer, I thought you just wanted a brat for yourself. I bought it a few minutes ago at the Brat Barn, and I’ll be happy to go there with you and I’m sure the young lady who sold it to me will confirm that I paid for it. Law here requires me to inform you that I’m licensed to carry and do have it on; tell me how you’d like to proceed.”

  17. Lew: you wrote:

    >> Explaining your Constitutional Rights to him could escalate the situation from a casual conversation to “put down your backpack and assume the position”.

    I don’t disagree that, in the current climate, this is what may happen. But think about it. If the police officer cannot respect our Constitutional Rights when we assert them, we are really losing our liberties. Much as I respect our police officers, at the same time I don’t want to give up my rights. There have been stories about innocent people getting into trouble because they talked too much. That shouldn’t be so, and such incidents erode the public’s trust in the police.

    If after my asserting my rights, the officer decides to detain or arrest me, he must present a cause and announce it. (My asserting Constitutional Rights cannot be used as a cause for suspicion.) At that time I will politely inform him that I am legally carrying, where my firearm is, and ask him to disarm me. But I do want it to be on record that I declined to say anything and did not consent to search.

  18. Yeah, boy! I stopped wearing pistol while driving after the last time I was stopped a couple of years ago. Much safer not to have it on you, especially if even a reasonably nervous officer has some reason to believe you might be a felon. I roll the window down and keep both my hands in sight outside the window frame. I also always get a receipt for fast food just in case there is a discrepancy between what I ordered and what was served. You just can’t be too careful about some things.
    My feeling is also that having a CCW in a constitutional carry state is an asset in a traffic stop. I would not have thought of putting it with the driver’s license to show the detaining officer, though. Glad I saw this thread. Thanks again, Mas.

  19. Liberal Dave, Stan L.,

    Since you’re talking hypothetical situation, let’s say that the student back pack wearers are in Boston near the finish line of an event, say like a marathon?

    Dave’s original post dealt dealt with totally innocent students carrying concealed and the officer looking for robbery suspects. Second hypothetical, a casual contact at a fair. Stan injected that informing the officer of his knowledge his constitutional rights and refusing to be searched. Dave, citing the ACLU, agreed.

    My question is, to what end? Unless the officer is a slow witted, low education, untrained neanderthal, that needs that reminder, he already knows his legal limitations. If the officer is the aforementioned, it will not deter him. If not, it will only serve to make him more curious you’ve something to hide. After all, they teach the same advice in that well known institution of higher learning, the penitentiary.

    Why not, rather than trying to lecture him on the constitution and your rights, respond “Officer, I’ve answered your questions truthfully, I’ve done nothing wrong, I’ve got nothing to hide, but I do have other things to do. Unless you have something else to detain me for, am I free to go?” Any evidence gathered after that point would be inadmissible w/o further probable cause, and he already knows that.

    Question for Dave. I don’t know if the ACLU was the originator of the “advice” to advise officers of your knowledge of your rights against illegal search and seizure and self incrimination. I do know many pro-2a organizations are also advising this. Have there been an instances that you know of where the defendant’s verbalization of his knowledge of those rights to the officer posed any bearing on the judge’s ruling on the admissibility of evidence?

    Back to the Boston Marathon. Damn shame that some observant police officer didn’t take the time to detain a couple of (up until) innocent students wearing back packs, who seemed only intent on making their way through a crowd, while ignoring the event everyone around them were intent on watching. Would there actions have met the threshold of probable cause? I’m guessing, had they been detained, they had also have educated themselves to give the same response you’ve advised. Would the officer be a dunce or a hero if he pushed the point?

    Again, I’m not attacking anyone’s comments, just adding to the discussion.

  20. Lew: While what you say is possible, what you have demonstrated to the officer but that approach is that you know your legal rights, and that will more often than not make him/her more careful rather than more aggressive. And then there’s this: In investigative situations you can _never_ presume that questions or statements by a LEO are, except when you are absolutely and unquestionably the pure as snow victim, for the purpose of helping or benefiting you. Many if not most criminal lawyers will advise you that the process suggested by Stan L is the only way to preserve your legal rights. Since you never know what the officer knows or is thinking, you cannot know how whatever information you allow him/her to gather will be taken or used. You may have not done anything wrong, but that does not mean that what you say or allow the officer to find in your backpack won’t match something the officer is looking for and put you under suspicion or arrest for something you didn’t do.

  21. That first sentence should have been: What you say is possible, but what you have demonstrated to the officer by that approach…

    Sorry abut that.

  22. The typed word loses a lot of context and verbal shading. With that quibble, I’d like to make a quiet point about Stan Ls constitutional rights post in much the same vein as Dennis above.

    Jumping straight from “I don’t know nothin’ about a hold-up” to quoting your rights is going to send up flags. Either you paid close attention while your PD was repping you or: you may be setting up a video production and/or are a card carrying ACLU type. Depending upon how smooth your transition is, you might find yourself there for longer than necessary. You might, after all, bear some resemblance to the criminals. In which case, the officer does have a duty to talk to you and get ID and other information.

    I’m not suggesting you don’t have rights, merely that a certain degree of polite interaction is reasonable under the circumstances. If things start to get onerous, then invoking the constitutional rights card is certainly appropriate.

  23. Dennis: You say, “My question is, to what end? Unless the officer is a slow witted, low education, untrained neanderthal, that needs that reminder, he already knows his legal limitations.”

    But that misses the point. None of the Stan L / ACLU procedure is intended to remind the officer of _anything_ whatsoever. It is instead to preserve one’s rights by putting the officer _on_notice_ that (a) _you_ are aware that you have no legal obligation to speak to him or answer his questions and that, rather than just keeping standing there in silence as if you are merely ignoring him, that _you_ are exercising your right not to speak or answer questions and (b) _you_ are not giving voluntary consent to any search of your person or vehicle.

    Officers do, indeed, know their limits and your rights. They are also skilled in taking advantage of the average citizens ignorance of their rights to get them to say things, answer questions, or allow things which they are not required by law to do. (Indeed, the law allows officers to interrogate and lie to people in order to get them do do just that.)

    And for that reason and also because you never know what an officer knows that you do not know, as I said above you can never presume that an officer’s conversation with you or questions to you are neutral or for your benefit. And Dennis, you’re the one who said, “Something else to keep in mind. When you are stopped by a police officer, you may think it’s for no reason. Rest assured the officer has a reason, or at least believes he has.” When you’re stopped by an officer, whether on foot or in a vehicle, the questions asked by the officer are almost _never_ going to be for your benefit and the only safe thing to do is to decline to answer them.

    I don’t have any information about whether calmly taking this position can be reasonably considered by an officer in justifying a Terry stop, but legal logic says that it cannot because that would put a penalty on your exercise of your Constitutional rights. But there may be cases out there which say one way or another that I’m not aware of. As for how it effects admissibility if the officer goes ahead and ignores your rights, that’s incredibly complicated and fact-driven but there is no question of this: You’re going to be in a better position on admissibility having done it and stuck to it than you are if you didn’t (and that’s especially true in this age of body cams and dash cams).

  24. Aaaaagggg! I _hate_ affect/effect errors and I just did it myself. In my last paragraph I said, “As for how it effects admissibility” and it should have been “affects” not “effects”. Now I’m going to have to go do penance to the grammar gods.

  25. One final word on the Stan L / ACLU procedure: If any reader here is inclined towards using it then they should go to the ACLU page I linked above and read through all of it, carefully, several times. There are things that you need to do and don’t do that aren’t included in Stan L’s summary which could easily come back to bite you if you don’t do them right out of ignorance. An example? What do do if an officer goes ahead and starts to search you or your vehicle after you told him that you do not consent to any searches. (Answer: Don’t do anything, verbally or physically, except perhaps repeat one time, “I have not consented to any search.”)

    Also, what you say will need to be expanded if you’re carrying a weapon. That’s where we started here and letting the officer know about it ASAP while keeping your hands far away from it and clearly in sight, and letting him know that you have a permit if one is required, is good advice. You should answer the officer’s question about where the weapon is or volunteer the information and, of course, follow his instructions about what to do about it.

  26. I found this video very helpful. It was concerned if this situation ever came up how it would go and when it did I applied these principles when I had a car accident – got rear-ended in a three car accident. It all went very well for me and I had no issues. The Officers were very friendly and appreciative. I later wrote to their Chief thanking them for their service and professionalism.

  27. Phippa,

    Your experience is an example of the overwhelming majority of routine contacts between concealed carry folks and law enforcement. Probably hundreds of contacts similar to yours occur everyday, between both white and black armed concealed carry permit holders.

    The media, as is their want, succeeded, using this rare instance, to trumpet their anti-police bias, while simultaneously attempting to create animosity/distrust by normally pro-police concealed carry holders. Also, as per usual, after all the hype and with held information, it becomes apparent the “victim” was not the completely innocent citizen gunned down by an overzealous, bigoted police officer.

  28. Good information there but, I was thinking more on the order of something for the general public. Five years ago, my hometown produced one of, if not the first, “Run. Hide. Fight.” videos. I’d dare say an overwhelming number of people are in more danger of inappropriately interacting with LEO’s in traffic stops, during field interviews or during responses to calls for service. For those jurisdictions who don’t include it in their curriculum for CCW licensing, yes – a PSA like you offered up would be appropriate and useful. I don’t have the numbers, but I keep hearing that CCW folks are the least likely to interact with LEOs in a way that would cause concern on either party’s part. I’m for something that addresses the rest of the population.

  29. I’ve been pulled over once while carrying. I was a bit nervous initially, since we all hear these horror stories about traffic stops while carrying, but I kept calm and stayed respectful, and the officer was very polite, professional, and did nothing to put me on edge. I simply had my wallet out by the time he got to my window, pulled the requested items out with both hands in plain sight, handed over my carry permit along with everything else, and here’s about how it went:

    Officer: “Are you carrying right now?”
    Me: “Yes, sir”
    Officer: “Where?”
    Me: “Right hip”
    Officer: “That’s fine, just please don’t reach toward it”
    Me: “Sure, I’ll just keep my hands up on the wheel here”
    Officer: “Great”

    And that was all that was said on the matter. We went on to discuss the broken muffler on my rig as if I wasn’t armed at all.

    Bad cops always get the lion’s share of the press, and I hate to see how much that colors people’s opinions of law enforcement. The vast majority of them are good, professional men & women who are doing their jobs and serving the public, and they don’t want trouble any more than you do.

  30. A couple of folks have said that when stopped while driving that they get their ID out before they’re approached by the officer. I’d say that if you have it in your pants, whether front or back pocket (or bag or purse), that’s a bad idea. Reaching for something in your pants, bag, or purse doesn’t look, from the officer’s point of view at the rear of your vehicle, much different than reaching for a weapon or trying to hide something. That’s a “furtive movement” and can lead to a confrontation or even a (hopefully) temporary detention aka Terry stop, depending on the circumstances. (Or, more accurately, what the officer thinks the circumstances are, whether you know them or not.) That’s especially bad if you’re carrying, but not good even if you’re not.

    If your ID’s not in your breast pocket, then wait for the officer to approach, keeping your hands on the wheel, let him ask for ID and, if you’re carrying, inform him that you’ve got a permit and are carrying and ask him what he wants you to do before you move your hands. If you’re not carrying, let him ask for the ID before you move your hands and do your best to move slowly while keeping your hands in plain sight as much as possible.

  31. Liberal Dave,

    Break out the ice tea. We are in total agreement. Well said, from the point of view of an officer, and textbook instruction from a conceal carry classroom.

    Can we also agree Mr. Castile pushed the time line much faster than needed, failing to allow the officer to control the interaction? I am willing to concede Officer Yanez may have overacted or responded too quickly to Mr. Castile’s actions, the problem is, I/we didn’t have the advantage of his vantage point and what he was seeing that prompted his decision to use deadly force.

  32. Dennis: We’re in agreement on that: Castile did something stupid. As I said previously, “We will never know whether Philando Castile did something stupid because he was stoned, poorly trained, just stupid, or had a momentary lapse of judgment. Whatever the cause, the actions he took were enough to alarm a LEO into shooting and killing him.” As for what Yanez did, we only know what Yanez and the girlfriend say but I’m generally willing to trust the jury on that. Where I blame Yanez is on issuing and continuing to issue ambiguous instructions in such a manner that Castile could have believed right up until the minute he was shot that he was doing what he was told. That doesn’t mean that Castile wasn’t stupid in going ahead and doing what he thought the officer had told him to do, i.e. produce his ID, without taking the kinds of precaution that we discussed above (Before moving, “Officer my ID is in my wallet on my right hip, may I reach for it?” Probably producing the response, “Where’s your firearm?” And so on to a safe conclusion.)

    But I will close with this: Let’s suppose that Castile thought he was supposed to reach for his wallet and that “don’t reach for it” meant “don’t reach for your gun” and, thus, in reaching for his wallet (on his hip) he wasn’t reaching for his gun (in his front pants pocket) but was obeying the officer’s order to produce his ID. Now think about this: What sometimes happens when people, especially young Black men, fail to instantly obey police officers’ commands? When parents, especially Black parents, give their kids “the talk” don’t they tell their kids to do whatever officers tell them to do without talking back or resisting? Couldn’t those influences make Castile’s seeming stupidity perhaps a bit less stupid or at least presented something of a dilemma?

  33. Liberal Dave,

    “When parents, especially Black parents, give their kids “the talk” don’t they tell their kids to do whatever officers tell them to do without talking back or resisting?”

    No disrespect, but how many black friends have related to you personally about “giving their kid’s “the talk'”? I worked in the black community for 34 years and worked with black officers for the same period of time, and I never once heard one black person say anything about sitting down with their children discussing the dangers of interactions with police and any special ways to avoid violence from officers. I have had many tell me that they raised their kids to be respectful of everyone, including police officers. This is the same for parents of any race/ethnicity. It’s called, well, being a parent.

    The term “the talk” is a fairly recent one, started by liberal activist in the wake of these highly publicized white officer/black victim shootings. I’m sure some black parents have this talk with their children. I also know that a disproportional number of black children grow up in single parent households to mothers not much older than sisters in other family scenarios. Many of these receive absolutely zero parenting.

    Police officers are not responsible for these societal failures, but must deal with the results day in and day out, knowing that others will always be second guessing their actions and motives.

    If you have children Dave, have you had “the talk” with them concerning the possible dangers of them walking the streets in certain areas of some cities after dark? If so, would that be racist or wise? Or would that talk be just good parenting? Have you ever had to notify a parent that their child wouldn’t be coming home, because no one ever told them that. I have. Many times. Seldom made the front page.

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