Getting pulled over by police during a traffic stop can be nerve wracking, especially if you have a firearm in the vehicle. If you’re a law-abiding gun owner—meaning you hold a concealed weapon license (CWL) or you are properly storing the firearm in your vehicle without a concealed permit—you need to familiarize yourself with the law and your constitutional rights.
After all, we’ve all probably seen various news media reports on police interactions with gun owners gone awry during traffic stops.
However, when you use common sense and know your rights, a routine traffic stop can be just that…routine.
The majority of interactions between police and individuals lawfully carrying a firearm tend to be uneventful and are everyday occurrence when you consider how many CWL holders live in Florida.
Let’s See How Many of Our Neighbors are CWL Holders
Over 1.7 million Floridians hold a concealed weapon license (CWL).
If you’re a Northeast Florida CWL holder, you’re certainly not alone. We have the highest rates of firearm permits in the State of Florida.
According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Licensing (as of March 31, 2017):
Number of Concealed Firearm Holders in Duval County
There are 78,085 CWL holders living in Jacksonville, Atlantic Beach, Jacksonville Beach and Neptune Beach.
Number of Concealed Firearm Holders in St. Johns County
There are 19,511 CWL holders living in St. Augustine, St. Augustine Beach, Hastings, Ponte Vedra and Nocatee.
Number of Concealed Firearm Holders in Clay County
There are 22,822 CWL holders living in Orange Park, Fleming Island, Penney Farms, Green Cove Springs and Keystone Heights.
Number of Concealed Firearm Holders in Nassau County
There are 9,979 CWL holders living in Fernandina Beach, Callahan, Hilliard and Amelia Island.
Number of Concealed Firearm Holders in Putnam County
There are 6,401 CWL holders living in Palatka, Crescent City, Pomona Park, Interlachen, Welaka and Bardin.
Number of Concealed Firearm Holders in Flagler County
There are 10,795 CWL holders living in Palm Coast, Flagler Beach, Bunnell, and Beverly Beach.
Number of Concealed Firearm Holders in Baker County
There are 2,937 CWL holders living in Macclenny and Glen St. Mary.
When you look at those numbers, law-abiding gun owners and law enforcement inevitably cross paths. And they do so primarily during simple traffic stops.
Your Rights During a Traffic Stop while Legally Carrying a Concealed Firearm
Florida Statute 790.06 spells out your rights when you hold a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm.
First and Foremost: If legally carrying a firearm, you must always carry your concealed weapons permit and valid ID at all times you are in possession.
If Stopped, You Don’t have to Volunteer You Carry: In Florida, you’re under no obligation to inform the officer that you are carrying a weapon, however if the firearm is in plain view it’s in your best interest to disclose this information to police.
If Asked, You Must Show You’re Licensed to Carry: At the law enforcement officer’s request, you must show:
- Your concealed weapons permit
- A valid Id
What to Do When You’re Legally Carrying a Concealed Firearm
As with any routine traffic stop, remain calm.
Stay in your vehicle and place your hands on the steering wheel in plain sight as the officer approaches.
Do not volunteer that you have a concealed firearm. In fact, it’s best to avoid mentioning the word “gun” when first interacting with a police officer. However, if you store your weapon in the glovebox or console and must open either to retrieve your registration and insurance information, you’ll want to respectfully inform the officer of the firearm’s presence. At that point, the officer will instruct you on how to proceed.
Since you’re legally carrying a concealed weapon and have the paperwork to prove it, the traffic stop should be routine without incident. You can read about your rights when stopped by any authority agency here.
As always, I’m available to answer any questions regarding your rights as a concealed weapons license holder, even during a traffic stop. Give my office a call at (904) 567-3113.