Everyday innocent legal gun owners are questioned by police in public. Understand the three types of contact you will have with police, what your rights are during the contacts, and if you have to tell the officers you are carrying a firearm.
Here at U.S. LawShield, whether it is a question to our phone line or a question at one of our Gun Law Seminars, the constant theme is interaction between law enforcement and a legally armed citizen.
The first step in solving any problem is accurate diagnosis of the problem. That’s what this little training video is about. The three types of contact you can have with law enforcement, especially if you’re armed.
- Voluntary Contact
- Involuntary Detention
With that, let’s take a look at all three of these types of contact in detail.
So, I’m a legal gun owner and I am carrying in a public place. As I’m walking along, for some reason a police officer says he wants to have a chat. I’m a little confused about what my rights and responsibilities are. I’m not even sure what kind of contact this is. During this situation, I wish I had an Independent Program Attorney to advise me.
Thanks to Independent Program Attorney Richard Hayes walking by, I know I am involved in what’s called a voluntary contact. It’s based on the idea of consent, and a police officer just like any other regular person can walk up to you and ask you questions. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to stay and chat or just move on.
The question then becomes—in a voluntary contact do I have to tell the officer I’ve got a gun? The law varies in each state, we recommend that you talk to your independent program attorney to understand what the law says in your state.
This contact is very confusing. I’m a legal gun owner. I’m carrying legally in public, but a police officer stops me and asks for ID. He tells me stay right here and don’t go anywhere while he checks my ID and background. It sort of feels like an arrest but I don’t think it is. What does that law say about this?
This type of contact is called an involuntary detention. It seems like an arrest, but it’s not an arrest. It’s just temporary, and it’s based on the legal standard of reasonable suspicion or a reasonable articulable suspicion. That is, could an ordinary person can articulate or explain what they believe and why they believe it? They have to suspect that you have committed, or are about to commit a crime. So that’s what you’re being held for. It’s not an arrest; it’s an involuntary detention.
This raises the question—do I have to tell the officer about my gun?
The law varies in each state on disclosing information about carrying your firearm. Speak to an Independent Program Attorney to determine what the law says in your state.
I don’t need a lawyer to tell me when a police contact is called an arrest. An arrest is based on probable cause. That’s when the police can articulate that you probably committed a crime. You’re going to be restrained and you’re gonna be disarmed. If you’re being arrested, and you’re carrying your firearm, move at the officer’s speed. You’re going to be disarmed. Don’t reach for your firearm, and if you don’t understand any of their instructions, the only thing that should move is your mouth for clarification.
You should invoke your right to have an attorney advise you prior to questioning and invoke your right to remain silent. Actually say—I’m invoking my right to remain silent. If you don’t invoke your rights, they can use your post arrest silence against you.
When you’re a responsible legal gun owner carrying legally in public, you have far more concerns than an unarmed person does. Hopefully, this video helped you identify the three types of contact that you might encounter, gave you some ideas on how to manage the three types of contact, and hopefully gave you some tips on how you and that officer can separate safer and more effectively.
I’ve carried for 7 years and I’m beginning to think I’m better off not carrying. All I’m hearing is the trouble I will be in for doing nothing.
It seems the saying “the only time a cop is right is if he’s dead”.
The same goes for a legal normal citizen carrying, accept we have to worry about the cops as well.
There is no defense, you’re in the right if they kill you, no one will accuse you then.
John Arends – no disrespect intended Sir but I think your comments are somewhat dramatic. Generally speaking, Sir, there is plenty of liability connected to making thwe decision to own, operate, & carry a firearm. But if you are trained not only in safe use of a firearm you should strongly consider obtaining the “insurance” offered by U.S & Texas Law Shield or a similar organization / service. Don’t bitch about the police John because they have a job to do and they have rules and procedures that need to be followed. Yes, you can expect to be treated guilty initially but if you follow the procedures and guidance offered by Law Shield it will save you lots of money. It WON”T save you any aggravation but all you want in the end is to be able to go on with your life while at the same time knowing that in a life & death situation you have a better chance for “life”. I wish you the best of luck and God’s blessings John. Rethink things My Friend.
Stephen makes a good point. The liability and responsibility of owning and carrying a firearm is great. As it should be. I joined Law Shield the very day I took my safety course to protect me in the event I had to use my weapon. But I also got it to help me remember the great responsibility of carrying a weapon. As a former Military Police officer, I understand the situation from both sides. An officer has to protect himself as well as the public and a good officer will always appreciate a citizen who helps him or her to do that. Just talk to the officer and deal with them calmly and peaceably. This is the best way to keep the situation under control. Despite what you may read in the news, officers are just like you and me – they want to go home at the end of the day. Help them and they will help you. This has always worked and will continue to do so.
Well spoken Sean!👏