Arizona’s advice to armed drivers

Arizona recently took the step to update their driver licensing manual to include traffic stops where the driver is armed. Section 7 of the manual is titled simply “Law Enforcement” and explains what to expect during a traffic stop.

Arizona, like Kansas, is a constitutional carry State. This means a permit is not required to carry a firearm concealed. Note this doesn’t mean just anyone can carry a gun, as you must be lawfully able to possess the firearm under State and Federal law. If you’re a “prohibited person” under State or Federal law, you cannot carry a firearm concealed for the simple fact you can’t legally possess a firearm to begin with.

But being a constitutional carry State can present challenges to law enforcement regarding armed civilians. As we saw with Philando Castile, things don’t end well when you’re not doing the right things while you’re armed and stopped by police. Along with all the typical guidelines given in every article discussing traffic stops, Arizona included this in a list of things to do After the car is stopped: “Inform the officer of any weapons on your person or in the vehicle.”

And it continues:

In addition to the guidelines above, drivers with firearms in the vehicle should keep your hands on the steering wheel in a visible location and when the officer approaches let them know that you have a firearm in the vehicle and where the firearm is located. If requested, the officer may take possession of the weapon, for safety reasons, until the contact is complete.

Sounds pretty straightforward. Same advice I gave in my first article on this subject several years ago. But Arizona continues by giving two items an armed driver should NOT do. And both points, again, read like advice I’ve already given here on this blog, advice that is not consistently reflected in the gun community.

  • Reach around inside the vehicle. If you need to reach for an item, contact the officer verbally to indicate the item you need to locate and only do so after the officer has given verbal confirmation.
  • Get out of the vehicle unexpectedly or approach the officer. If you need to exit your vehicle, contact the officer verbally to exit the vehicle, only exit after the officer has given verbal confirmation to do so.

Nice to see the advice I’ve given in various venues reflected in a State government publication on police traffic stops. Almost brings a tear to my eye to see it. But it also confirms what I’ve said before: Philando Castile screwed up.