Masaad Ayoob on how to handle a police traffic stop if carrying by

I recommend anyone who carries concealed or open should watch this video. I doubt anyone knows more about the legal aspects of firearms than Massad Ayoob.

[ Many thanks to jdun1911 for emailing me the link. ]

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Nathan B

    In my opinion, If you are stopped, regardless of if you are carrying you should show your license/permit. If you aren’t carrying, just say you aren’t and the officer might leave it at that (I had this happen earlier this year, it is exactly how it transpired).

    Regardless of if you are required to inform by law or not, I feel it is a good idea to inform the officer that you are licensed to carry, and that you are carrying. This allows the officer better situational awareness, and the more information you give him regarding a legally carried firearm, I feel, the more at ease he will be.

    This is my personal stance, but I feel it would have the best results overall.

    • JN

      That really depends upon the tenor of your jurisdiction. Here in MA we have no legal requirement to tell the officer and unless the officer tells me to step out of the car or directly asks, I’m not going to say anything.

      I carry in such a way that I can get my license and registration without my gun printing. I have been stopped when I was carrying two guns. The officer didn’t ask, I didn’t volunteer, he gave me a written warning and I was on my way.

      While most officers support your 2nd amendment rights, some don’t. Some cops believe that only two kinds of people carry guns – cops and bad guys. Sometimes here in MA, people who tell a police officer that they are licensed and are carrying have had things go south in a hurry.

      I know of an FBI agent and an ICE agent who were stopped by a MA State Trooper while off duty. On both occasions, the agent gave the trooper their federal credentials and the trooper wanted to disarm them and confiscate their duty gun. The trooper told them that they could not carry a gun off duty on their badge. What should have been a routine traffic stop turned into more than an hour on the side of the road. Do I think this was a typical encounter or MA State Police policy? No, but it shows what could happen to a federal agent, let alone a private individual.

    • MP

      Volunteering anything to the police is a poor idea unless it’s a good idea (which is rare).

      In my experience I have never been asked to get out of the vehicle and there has been approximately 0% that they’d pick up on the gun. When I’ve not informed I’d been given 3 warnings and a ticket. When I’ve informed (voluntarily) I’ve been given 2 warnings and a ticket AFTER being questioned by nervous cop about stupid stuff.

  • jdun1911

    I like the Don’t Talk To Cop video also know as the 5th Amendment better. Comply with the cops or take the fifth. Don’t give out information if the cops don’t ask for it. Basically keep your mouth shut.

    It worth the 49 minutes. Let’s the lawyer deal with the cops. That’s there job. No need to make the cop or your life hard.

    The professor is from Regent University. It’s about 10 minutes drive from my home. One of my friend wife actually went there for her movie producer degree or something like it. In fact for some reason I know a large number of people that got their movie/tv degree at Regent.

    • fw226

      Texas requires you show your CHL if you are carrying when you are obligated to show your license to PD. So I would offer up info then. I know CHL holders get better results from me when they tell me before I find out another way.

      But if you’re not being detained or investigated, I wouldn’t recommend telling anyone under normal circumstances!

      • JM

        Obligated, but not required unless asked.

      • fw226

        Yes, required. The punishment for the violation is loss of the handgun license:

        Texas GC 411.205, Requirement to Display License.

        If a license holder is carrying a handgun on or about the license holder’s person when a magistrate or peace officer demands that the license holder display identification, the license holder shall display both the license holder’s driver’s license or identification certificate issued by the department and the license holder’s handgun license.

      • jdun1911

        I like to see this go to SCOTUS. The 5th vs. Texas GC 411.205. I wonder who win? You have the right to exercise your constitutional right at any time.

      • JM

        No, fw226, that penalty was removed in 2009 – went into effect Sept 01. I thought you were LEO?

      • fw226

        JM: Maybe I missed something.

        But 411.205 and the punishment clause in 411.187 are still showing as valid law on the Texas statutes site.

        The bills I can find from 2009 that would have repealed those sections were sent to the criminal justice committee and never passed (HB410 and the Senate version 838).

        If you can point me to where one was passed, I’d be grateful to see it.

      • JM

        The law was not repealed. The penalty (411.205 subsection “b”) was removed. – FAQ # 64.

        Here is an updated PDF of the penal code, from the Texas DPS website: – 411.205 is on page 32, in its newly shortened entirety.

      • JM

        In that second link, on page 20, you’ll see that 411.187(b)(2) has also been updated, and there is no longer a penalty listed for failing to display.

        See, the problem with Googling a penal code is that you’re viewing archived laws. You need to stay current if you’re going to do your job correctly.

        I recommend checking the New Legislation page of the DPS site every time state congress meets:

    • SpudGun

      Thanks for the video jdun, it was very informative and made a lot of good points.

      However, if you are legally carrying and don’t say anything, expect to have your head smashed against the hood of the cop car a few times by some irate flat foot. You could try screaming ‘I know my goddam rights!’, but that will probably just incur further beatings.

      Just remember, if you are carrying concealed, the majority of the fuzz will freak out and totally overreact to the situation. It will be up to you, the permit holder, to remain calm, even if he’s half breaking your arm in the handcuffs.

      Unfortunately, after the whole Zimmerman debacle, expect to get arrested as a matter of course.

      • MP

        *expect to get arrested before or after zimmerman incident

      • Unhelpful comment.

      • jdun1911

        The cop should already know that you have a conceal carry by running a check on your plate.

        They can smash my head on the hood but you know what my lawyers will bring home a fat check within a few months.

        There was a person in my area that got arrested for open carry. His lawyer got a nice check from the police department for him. A few month later it happen again and with the same result. I don’t know how many times he got arrested but I can tell you the police department retrained their cops to not arrest open carry citizens. Also the state reaffirmed the right to open carry because of him.

      • fw226

        JDun: the State will argue that it’s a privilege subject to additional regulation, the citizen would argue it as a Constitutional right. I suppose you could argue that youre not incriminating yourself in any offense? I’d love to read the justice’s opinions.

        And our department doesn’t get your CHL status on your plate, just your name.

      • SpudGun

        @SPQR – I wouldn’t say my comment was unhelpful – yes, it was certainly exaggerated for effect based on cynacism and the minority of traffic stops that go south, but it is certainly within the realms of possibility.

        I was going to link up the infamous Canton, Ohio incident, but there were aspects of that situation that didn’t sit right with me concerning the CCW owner and what he was doing at that time of night – nothing proven, just Spidey sense.

        Still, we live in a society where you can pepper sprayed or tazered for demonstrating your 1st Amendment rights of non-violent protest. If the cops can steam roller that Amendment, your 2nd isn’t going to fair much better.

  • Nadnerbus

    Warning: offer void in California.

  • jim

    as of September 1st, 2009, you do *NOT* have to reveal that you have a CHL, or are carrying in Texas, for *any* reason to LEOs.. in your vehicle, or out of your vehicle..

    it is legal to carry concealed within your vehicle in Texas, *without a CHL*, as of September 1st, 2007 when the Texas Castle Doctrine Law passed..

    this video is incorrect and old, in regards to Texas Law..

    • Jason

      As a Texas LEO, I recommend that you do just as the video says and hand over both licenses, required or not. If you do not and a second officer approaches the passenger side window, he might notice your guns impression through your clothes. I have noticed it many times, specially after someone has reached and stretched to pull your wallet out of their pocket for their drivers license.

      If you do not inform them and a second officer approaches that window, you risk being pulled on. If its a rookie at the window… they have hairy trigger fingers. Just your choice and risk I guess.

      • JM

        As a Texas resident, I respectfully decline. I have a right to privacy unless arrested. Furthermore, no one touches my gun unless I’m being charged and handcuffed.

        Texas cops USED to give breaks to CHL holders. In the last couple of years they’ve stopped doing it, so I’ve stopped notifying.

      • Chris

        “If its a rookie at the window… they have hairy trigger fingers. Just your choice and risk I guess.”

        That almost sounds like a threat. Why do they have “hairy trigger fingers”? Are rookies chomping at the bit to fire on civilians? Don’t they teach discipline at the academy?

        Your statement is troubling.

    • fw226

      Jim: that is correct, you can carry a handgun on you in your truck in Texas without a CHL. However, if you do have a CHL and carry a handgun “on or about your person”, you are still bound to follow the CHL requirements – the law holds CHL holders to a higher standard once you get licensed. The punishment is usually loss of the CHL, not jailtime.

      • fw226

        If you’re wondering why the law works like that, the law is written (by the legislature, not the police) so that having a CHL is a privilege, not a right, and people who hold one can be held to different standards.

      • JM

        If you’re seriously LEO, you really need to brush up on your penal codes.

        First of all, you can only carry a handgun in your vehicle – without a CHL – IF you can either (1) reasonably show that you are traveling across at least two county lines, or (2) reasonably show that you are commuting to/from work.

        You don’t just have free reign to carry in your vehicle without a CHL. Unfortunately.

        ALSO, your comment regarding failure to display is wrong. It USED to be a 90-day suspension (not “loss”), but the penalty was removed in 2009.

      • mp

        @JM: No, in Texas you don’t need to certify that you’re traveling anywhere. Here’s a link to the text of the law:

        The relevant bits:

        Text of subsec. (i) as added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., ch. 288, § 1
        (i) For purposes of Subsection (b)(3), a person is presumed
        to be traveling if the person is:
        (1) in a private motor vehicle;
        (2) not otherwise engaged in criminal activity, other
        than a Class C misdemeanor that is a violation of a law or ordinance
        regulating traffic;
        (3) not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing a
        (4) not a member of a criminal street gang, as defined
        by Section 71.01; and
        (5) not carrying a handgun in plain view.

        Basically, if you’re in a private vehicle and not doing anything else illegal, you’re (legally) presumed to be traveling.

        As with anything in there, this is a defense to prosecution, not a defense to arrest. They might still arrest you, this just gives you a viable defense to prosecution. It is up to you to decide what the risk is worth.

      • JM

        Thank you for clarifying!

    • Walter

      In Texas the CHL will be found out about when the driver’s license is run because they are linked. If you don’t tell the officer up front he is going to wonder why and look at you with suspicion and still know that you probably have a gun. Just give him the CHL license up front and make it easy. Also tell him you are armed if you don’t have a CHL in the beginning. Ayoob is wrong about Texas in that DPS will get you out of the car regardless of whether they think you are impaired or not. Part of their routine in traffic contacts. DPS will also disarm you during the stop. Others may as well so be ready. Also your perceived right of privacy kind of doesn’t apply as they know your address, your registration, whether or not your insurance is up to date, any warrants, your driving record, CHL status, and criminal background just from your license plate and/or your driver’s license. JM is asking for a lot of unnecessary trouble with his attitude.

      And you can be stopped in Texas just to see if you have a license and if you are stopped your license will be asked for and you will need to hand it over.

      • JM

        The law still obligates you to show your license, but there is no longer a suspension nor misdemeanor penalty associated with it. You’re just going to ruin your chances of getting off with a warning…but using CHL to get a warning seems not to work in the last couple of years.

  • 2Wheels

    I guess it depends on your state and how your local PD perceives CCW holders, but I so far haven’t had a problem informing an officer that I’m carrying in Northern VA. It’s a mere formality anyways, because just by running my plates the officer knows I have a CCW permit and they will ask you if you’re carrying. But in my experience officers generally like it when you tell them upfront that you’re carrying and where the gun is located and it helps things go a little smoother.

    I’ve been pulled over twice while carrying, the first officer did politely ask me to step out of the vehicle so we could talk face to face but didn’t say or do anything about the gun after that. She didn’t draw her gun, didn’t ask to take my gun, nothing. We just talked face to face as if I wasn’t even armed (and I was OCing). When she was done giving me a warning she thanked me for being honest about carrying, and told me to have goodnight.

    The second officer didn’t care that I was packing once I gave him my CCW permit. Just gave me my warning and sent me on my way.

  • I recently got my CPL, and was driving around northern Mich looking for property to buy. The vehicle I was driving had a temporary plate in the back window, which is factory tinted, so it was difficult to see. a MSP officer stopped me, and when he asked for my license, before moving my hands off the steering wheel, I informed him I had a CPL and 2 loaded firearms. 1 in the center console where my license was, another in the glove box where my reg. and ins. was. He turned slightly sideways, and said go ahead.
    If you are straight up with them, I think you have a better chance of no issue, than you do if he suddenly discovers you are armed. Just my opinion.

  • harLEquin

    I’ll just tell you from a LEO perspective, I’ve worked in two different states both with lots of guns in them. Both state systems inform us if there is a ccw attached to the plate/driver. Chances are we know you have a ccw before we walk up.
    I’m one of those who doesnt ask about your gun, i support your right to carry it, but i watch your hands like a hawk. I’ve got the drop on you anyhow.
    Personally I appreciate when people tell me right off or show their license, it deffinitely plays a factor. If they do tell me that they have a firearm present i will ask the location of the firearm and ask them to place their hands on the steering wheel and not make any sudden movements.
    Cops are people too, the uniform is the same but the person in that uniform varies as much as any other job. There is no 100% correct answer to this question, unless the law says to do so. It’s your responsibility to know.

    • ND

      So your more worried about someone who went through the trouble of a background check to get the permit than you are of someone who carries illegally? Any person you walk up on could be packing. You make yourself sound more worried about the permit holders when its the criminals who don’t give a damn about the law that are gonna start shooting at you. It sounds like you may have things bass ackward to me.

      • Chucky

        If I see Mas in my rear-view mirror during a routine traffic stop the first thing I’ll do is soil my pants.

      • harLEquin

        @ND. I didn’t say I was more worried about ccw holders than everyone else. Quite the opposite. I expect there to be a gun in every car, only difference is with ccw is I know there is one.

  • Bryan S.

    Ayoob’s viewpoint on this is going to be biased… because he is a police officer.

    If the gun wasnt the reason you were stopped, no reason to bring it into the confrontation. Why toss your own rights out the window? You have the right to not incriminate yourself, except in states which say otherwise.

  • some cop

    I would say that most cops would NOT over react if they had been informed of ccw. You are more likely to get a gun screwed into your ear if a cop sees an imprint than to just tell him straight up.

    • JM

      A perfect example of why concealed weapons licenses are so important.

  • Mike Knox

    I’ve been in traffic stops with a CCW and I’ve only been asked about it twice without incident..

  • Clint

    In Arizona, the same applies as Texas, per Jim’s comments above. Read up on where you live and travel.

  • Yatalli

    Very useful video which I am sharing. I had encounter with a moose a couple of winters back. The moose didn’t fare so well. I contacted 911 and they advised that LEO was enroute. I ended the suffering of the poor critter. Once the officer arrived and ascertained that I was unhurt he asked if I had a weapon in the vehicle. After my affirmative answer he asked if he could hang on to it while he completed the investigation. Adding “I’d feel more comfortable”. Once the investigation was completed, forms explained, and the determination that my truck was driveable. He returned the pistol thanking me for dispatching the cow.

    I haven’t had many encounters with LEOs but it seems, at least in my area, the second question is normally “Do you have any weapons in your vehicle?” This always gives me pause because I do carry a folding knife and have a hatchet/axe in my tool box, so I am always uncertain as to how I should answer. Normally it’s “No firearms”. If they want to inquire further I’ll give them the run down.

  • Lance

    Good tips. Always remain calm and be careful on what state your in Cops in Idaho and Texas will be more nice to you and courteous over having a gun than Kalifornia cops who not at there fault are ordered to harass gun carriers due to state policy.

    • Worm

      I’m a cop and I’m very pro 2nd amend. In Mich you are required to notify if you’re not stopped while carrying. It usually shows up when we run a plate anyway, but sometimes the system goes down or there’s a lag. So if I don’t see it on the computer and you don’t tell me, what do you think might happen if see a gun and your hand is anywhere near it? Think about it….

      • Worm

        My post was a reply to Lance. I meant to post it in the main thread.

      • Worm

        Not at reply. My typing is F-up today. Apologies

    • Brian in CA

      “Kalifornia cops”? Required to harass gun owners? Huh? Paranoid much?

      I’ve had two traffic tickets (CHP) in the 17 years since I’ve had an LTC, not a single problem other than I was speeding and was rightfully cited for it.

      I’ve had two other non-ticket contacts while driving, no problems, and survived an old man in a Grand Marquis running two red lights to center punch me – city PD were very helpful and were cool with me NOT going to the hospital in an ambulance “wink wink”.

      We are not required to disclose whether we are carrying in CA but it has been in the DL database for some time. Concealed means concealed. It doesn’t mean giving up your rights, 4th amendment or otherwise, and

      If you’re carrying illegally, too bad for you.

      You might want to re-think your attitude next time you have contact with law enforcement, and you seem unfamiliar with LTC in CA in any case.

      Brian in CA

  • John Doe

    What’s concealed carry?


    • Vhyrus

      Dear California,

      When you find out could you tell me as well? I’m dying to know what all the fuss is about.


  • I am a retired Police detective with 34 years working major narcotics and never working traffic stops unless we apprehended a Felon.

    Being retired LE, as soon as I stop my vehicle, if at night, I turn on the interior lights, roll down the driver window and place both hands on the dash with the palms up. Daytime, I place the palms up on the dash and roll down the window. As soon as the Officer approaches the driver window I announce that I am a retired Police Detective and I have my duty WEAPON in the vehicle, I DO NOT use the word GUN as Ayoob advised. I then inform the Officer the location of the weapon such as, on my person, in the center console or in my JUMBO Carry bag. I then do exactly as the Officer tells me to do and make sure my motions are slow and easy. I inform the officer whenever I move my hands or any part of my body as to why I am doing this. Such as, “Officer, with my left hand or my right hand I will open my bag and produce my Police ID and Badge. Now, for the surprise………… I’ve probably been stopped about 20 times in my 34 years on the job. I’ve handled the Traffic stop just as described above and over 75% of the time they never asked to see my ID when I informed them that I was state narcotics and on the job. Sometimes to keep my cover intact I asked that I be given a “Fix It Ticket” and then blew my top at the officer to keep my cover intact.

    BUT it is the Brand New officer that has a POWER TRIP on the Badge & GUN and his new found authority! I was once stopped and pulled out of the car at Gun Point of a Python .357 Magnum, my weapon thrown in the grass, handcuffed and patted down very strongly and even from the beginning when I Identified myself as a Narcotics agent the Officer didn’t believe me. I informed him that my Badge & ID was in my cowboy boot and he still would not believe me! Next, a District SGT drove up looked in the back of the Patrol car and said OMG, what the hell are you doing and immediately released me from custody. SO….. keep your cool, be safe and watch your 6!

    • maro45

      I inform the officer whenever I move my hands or any part of my body as to why I am doing this.

      “Officer, with my right hand I will reach into my pants and scratch my balls because they are itchy”

  • Nicks87

    Be honest folks, and tell the Officer you have a CCW. No reason to risk your life over something you are legally allowed to do.

    And if you are doing it illegally… Well… I hope you have a good lawyer/life-insurance policy.

    • JM

      Yes, because all cops are your friends.


  • JM

    While it makes sense that any LEO – regardless of state – would want to promote honesty and openness…it scares me how many don’t know the penal codes of their own jurisdiction.

    Now, granted, most cops aren’t going to know EVERY letter of every law. That’s not their job. But to be on the comments section of a blog, preaching penal codes that are either incorrect or don’t exist…that’s worrisome.

    Citizens: KNOW YOUR RIGHTS.

    Having a CHL does not obligate someone to be a better citizen, it confirms that they ALREADY ARE good citizens and it obligates them to carry on in a peaceful manner.

  • Gabe

    Sorry, I’m from Canada and don’t fully understand how your CCW stuff works, but why would you have to identify it to an officer? And why, as MP stated in an earlier comment, would you be given a ticket or arrested as a result?
    Overall it seems like you have it good considering the fact that we have the go through this hassle in Canada anytime we drive to the range with a handgun, and will most likely be arrested and charged with something ridiculous that we obviously didn’t commit. We aren’t even allowed to stop of at Tim Hortons or the gas station on the way back from the shooting range, we can be arrested if we deviate from ‘the shortest path to and from the range’ if there are any restricted firearms (pistols, scary looking rifles, AR15s etc) in the vehicle.

    • JC

      Some states require it. Some don’t. I have my permit next to my driver’s license so that if I get stopped they will know immediately. I don’t want to give them any surprises.

  • This is a non-conformist or unconventional attitude or standpoint: It really should be the other way around/vice versa from the video demo since police are supposedly among our civil servants, but they never yield control, their firearm, and thus make themselves vulnerable, to citizens like that. Yet their guns are just as dangerous to us as ours are to them.

  • T.

    There is no duty to inform in Arizona.

  • Chris Dunlap

    I have both a Georgia Resident CCW and a Virginia Non-Resident CCW. I travel quite a bit and have been through more than my share of traffic stops and sobriety checkpoints. Whenever I am stopped by law enforcement, I present the officer with the following: Georgia Drivers License, U.S. Military Active Duty ID Card and my CCW Permit. I also inform the officer if I am carrying or not and the location of my weapon if I am.

    Every time I have been stopped the LEO thanked me for providing all of my information. I would guess I have been stopped by a LEO or at a checkpoint 30-40 times in the last ten years. I have only received one ticket and that one was reduced. I was involved in an accident (not at fault) on I-81 in Virginia three years ago. When the VA State Trooper arrived on the scene I presented him with my credentials and informed him that I was carrying a 1911 on my right hip. The VA State Trooper asked me to come sit in the passenger seat of his Charger while he wrote up the report. At no time did he attempt to disarm me or challenge my right to lawfully carry a concealed weapon. When he was done with my report he handed me his business card, thanked me for my service and told me to call him if I needed him to testify in court on my behalf.

    I have found this same level of courtesy and respect everytime I have encountered a LEO, regardless of the state.

    While some of the commentors here have stated “don’t tell them anything that you don’t have to”, I find that being up front an honest from the start makes for an easier and smoother experience for all parties.

    • JM

      I question the legality of checkpoints, but regardless of my feelings: if there is no reason for an officer to believe that you are doing anything other than driving your vehicle, then the only thing you should display is the license that grants you that privilege. Checkpoints do not “create” a reasonable suspicion.

      Secondly – getting stopped 3 or 4 times per year is way too much for a responsible adult. It’s pretty hypocritical to say, “law enforcement and I are besties!” if your driving habits are outside the scope of the law.

  • Rangefinder

    A traffic stop is about accountability. Recognize that you are not in control and show proper respect. You are already in a negative position due to your irresponsible behavior.

  • Mikeyb

    I can’t believe the stupid comments made here. Sheesh