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Surrender of Firearms During Law Enforcement Traffic Stop…

February 22, 2010 AZ CCW Laws, Firearms Safety, Vehicle Carry No Comments

Question:  Yesterday I was driving through Superior AZ and I got pulled over.  I had my hands at ten and two position on the steering wheel, the window down  and the car off. When the officer got to the window, I announced I was carrying and a permit holder. He immediately reached for the gun on my left hip. I protested and said “wait why do you need to take my gun, it is loaded and I do not want you to shoot me with my own gun.” He said “it was his prerogative to take anyone’s weapon.” He pulled my weapon from my holster and asked me to come back to his car. While back at his car there were at least 4 times he pointed my own gun at me. Not like he was drawn out on me but just carelessly running the barrel across my body. My question is simple.  Am I required to surrender my weapon? I know if asked I have to present my permit. This officers had me thinking I would be shot with my own gun.

Answer: Overall, your initial response to the traffic stop was exactly correct.  I recommend that permit holders keep their hands on the wheel, roll down the window and provide the information that they are a permit holder and armed without any prompting on the part of the officer.  Typically, this will result in a more comfortable stop for both the citizen and the officer.

To answer your question directly, the officer is legally permitted to take control of your firearm for the duration of the traffic stop and near every single officer will do just that.  They are permitted to do this for their own safety.  When you consider the number of police officers that are killed in traffic stops each year, you can see why this is important to them.  You might recall that Lt. Eric Shuhandler of Gilbert PD was just killed in a traffic stop at the end of January.

From the way you have described the situation that occurred during your particular traffic stop, the officer could have used more care in handling your firearm and definitely should have been more conscious of the muzzle direction.  In all of our courses, we hammer the issues of safe muzzle direction and keeping your finger off the trigger even when handling an unloaded firearm.  We do this to insure absolute safety when handling a firearm.  Sounds like the officer in question could have done a better job of safe gun handling.  For future reference, there would be nothing wrong in politely suggesting to the officer that you do not wish to be swept with the muzzle of a firearm if something like this were to occur again…

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