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What should I do if I’m pulled over with a gun in the car?

The story has played out in the past. A man is pulled over and tells the officer that he has a gun in the car, but he is permitted to carry. The situation escalates as the officer reacts and now someone is in jail, injured or killed because someone failed to handle the situation properly. As a driver in Tennessee, how do you properly inform a police officer of the presence of a firearm during a traffic stop?

Remain calm and cooperative

Everyone understands that when police approach a vehicle, they don’t know what to expect from the driver. Police act with vigilance to protect themselves and the general public, which is why the presence of a handgun or rifle, even if you are permitted to carry, is alarming to an officer.

If a weapon is concealed, the officer may be unaware of its presence until you inform him or her of it. Acting calmly and cooperatively in this situation is vital to ensuring the safety of both yourself and the officer.

Tennessee law requires disclosure of permit at the request of an officer

According to Beretta, an Italian firearms manufacturer, drivers who conceal and carry weapons should take the following steps:

  • Keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times
  • Turn on the vehicle’s dome light if it is dark outside
  • Only reach for items like your driver’s license when instructed by the officer
  • Inform the officer you are carrying if your movement will reveal a weapon, such as one located in the glove box or at the hip.
  • Ask the officer how he or she would like you to proceed.
  • Produce driver’s license, vehicle registration and permit to carry as required by state law at the instruction of the officer.

Drivers who fail to use caution in this situation or do not have their firearm permit available risk administrative penalties, criminal charges or the escalation of the use of force by an officer.

Understanding how to conduct yourself if you are carrying a firearm during a traffic stop can help protect yourself, public safety and our greater Constitutional rights to bear arms and protections from unreasonable search and seizure.

State Bar of Georgia
TBA | Tennessee Bar Association
CBA | Chattanooga Bar Association
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