A Florida Gun Owners Guide To Being Stopped in a Vehicle by Police
Knowing the law is the best way to stay on the right side of it. When it comes to interactions with law enforcement, gun owners should be especially vigilant.
The LawFlorida does not place upon its citizens the legal requirement that they proactively notify a member of law enforcement that they are a concealed weapons permit holder or that they are currently in possession of a firearm. Therefore, if stopped a Floridian need not preemptively present their concealed weapons permit in addition to other legal documents such as as drivers license and proof of insurance.
However, if a citizen is asked a direct question they may only decline to answer the question or answer truthfully because the law does not permit a citizen to lie.
Best PracticesJust because you are not required to notify law enforcement does not mean that you should not if the circumstances warrant such disclosure. There is no one rule to go by but a logical approach seems to be that if an officer orders a citizen out of their vehicle that disclosure of a firearm on the citizen's person is warranted. This is because the act of ordering a citizen out of a vehicle is a necessary prelude to a form of detention. Hence, in order to assist the law enforcement officer ("LEO") in avoiding a potentially dangerous surprise, the cautious citizen would do well to VERBALLY alert the officer in a calm manner as to the presence (and location) of a lawfully concealed firearm or other weapon that is concealed about their person.
Reasonable minds may differ on the question of whether a citizen should notify an officer that they possess a concealed weapons permit ("CCW"). If no gun is present on the citizen's body, it seems to be unnecessary information from a safety standpoint and, once a LEO has begun detaining a citizen, the citizen has an constitutional right to refrain from making any statements if he so chooses.
In conclusion, the lawfully armed citizen must accept that LEO are trained and required to maintain absolute control over a situation. Because they are human beings, they can, at times make mistakes. If a LEO makes a mistake of law or fact, it is useful to know that, once their mind is made up, the proper place to challenge that conclusion is in the court room and not on the street. Hence, safety! safety! safety! is the name of the game and it is necessary follow any lawful commands that are tendered by police.
The prudent citizen will always interact with police as if they are being filmed on television. As it happens, the citizen may, in fact, be on camera given the prevalence of dash-cams, body-cams and even cellphone videos from passers by. Ultimately, calm and respectful tones can make the difference between a relatively easy transition through the stop and a traumatic night in jail.
Finally, it is extremely important for the citizen to make no sudden movements around LEOs while legally armed. It may seem like an obvious point but some citizens forget that the police never know what they are going to encounter at each stop and are therefore usually on guard in some measure. For this reason, the citizen should never forget that the officer may misinterpret an otherwise friendly action if it could be mistaken for a hostile one. This is why the citizen should never touch his firearm prior to law enforcement's having 'cleared' him to do so (by handing it back at the end of the stop for instance). It is extremely important for the citizen to use his or her body language to convey that there is no 'ill-intent' and for this reason the citizen would to best to keep his hands stationary and visible at all times.
The citizen should NEVER REACH FOR HIS FIREARM as a means of showing a LEO where his pistol is.
This can be a well-intentioned but potentially fatal mistake.