Concealed Carry Common Sense & Courtesy

Frank Borelli

While I have typed about this particular topic before, I feel the need to do it again. I was recently emailed a document from the Arkansas Department of State Police. It details the Concealed Handgun Carry License Rules. In section 3.2 it requires any CCW holder to surrender said license "upon request for identification by any law enforcement officer." As a retired police officer I consider myself to carry a "cop's attitude" about this. OF COURSE I want to know if anyone I'm dealing with is carrying a gun, legally or otherwise. I would NEVER expect a badguy to volunteer the information (although a couple did in my time on the street) and I would never understand why any law abiding citizen would be bothered by this outlook. If you have no mal-intent, then why would you object to showing your permit? On the other hand, as a strong proponent of the 2nd Amendment, and being all too aware of how some law enforcement administrators are distinctly anti-gun (in civilian hands anyway), I know that there are policies out there that aren't overly friendly to law abiding citizens who happen to hold CCW permits. Where there are cases of harassment or, at best, inconvenience to the CCW holder, I can understand that they might not want to volunteer the information. Let me try to share what, to me, seems like a simple and logical outlook based on common sense. In my years of teaching officer survival (and I've been at it for about two decades now), I've tried to impress upon all police officers the need to avoid misunderstandings on traffic stops. "If you get pulled over," I tell them, "give the officer your driver's license, vehicle registration, proof of insurance, and police identification immediately." Many officers felt that I was instructing them to essentially ask for professional courtesy. I have, in fact, been pulled over and produced those documents just to have a state trooper look down at me and ask, "Did you give me your police ID to get out of the ticket?" My reply was quite honest when I said, "No, sir. I gave you my police ID so you'd know I was carrying a gun. I'll sign any ticket you write but I don't want to get shot over a misunderstanding that started with me speeding." Just for the record, I've had 3 speeding tickets in 28 years of driving. One in 1980; another in 1990; and another in 2000. In 2010 I'm just going to go to the state police barracks and ask them to get it over with. Now, does that State Trooper - or any other law enforcement professional in my state - have a legal requirement to know that I'm carrying or even that I'm a cop? Nope. If all I give him is my license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance, have I complied with the law of my state? Yep. If I don't give him my police ID and there is a misunderstanding when he realizes I'm armed and I end up shot, whose fault is it? MINE. While I certainly understand the outlook of the folks who say they don't want to surrender their CCW license; that they feel it will only be used as a harassment tool; that their rights are being violated if they have to identify themselves as legally carrying a gun, I say this: it's better than getting shot! Common sense must rule the day. Those in favor of Shall Issue laws have fought too hard for too long to let misunderstandings or pettiness get in the way of progress. PROVE you mean the police no harm by volunteering the information. Might it cause you grief and aggravation? Yep. Is it better than being shot? Oh, heck yeah. Can the cop ever claim you tried to hide something? Nope. Well, he can try... dash cams are great though. Let's face it: in today's world of terrorism, every legally armed law abiding citizen is a blessing in our country. Each and every one of them is a potential soldier on the front lines against crime and terrorism at home. We, as law enforcement professionals, need to respect that and honor it as much as we can without sacrificing any measure of officer survival. I don't think it's unreasonable to ask, in return, that citizens pay us the respect and courtesy, recognizing the regular dangers of our job, of identifying themselves when they are legally carrying a firearm. If any of you readers regularly ILLEGALLY carry a firearm, please, courteously and respectuflly and without any sign of threat at all, advise the police officer of that too. What do you thinK?