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Ask a Trooper: What Should I Do If You Pull Me Over and I Have a Gun in My Car?

Washington State Patrol District 1 spokesman and recruiter Guy Gill answers your questions about the rules of the road.

Q: If I am pulled over and I have my pistol in the glove compartment (where my insurance and registration are located), what is the best way to inform the officer that I have the pistol in there? I don't want to alarm the officer. – Patch reader Vanessa Zumwalt

A: When a Trooper makes contact with you, please advise him or her immediately that you have a weapon inside the vehicle and its location. The trooper will ask questions from there and may ask that you keep your hands visible during the contact. A responsible carrier of a firearm will already know this and gladly cooperate with the trooper. In most cases we'll finish up with the traffic stop, thank you for being honest and forthcoming, and send you on your way. 

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Trooper Guy Gill is the Washington State Patrol recruiter and spokesman for District 1, covering Pierce and Thurston counties. Follow him at @wspd1pio on Twitter. 

Jaydee1958 February 25, 2013 at 08:00 PM
But to have a hidden loaded gun in your vehicle. You must do all the above (i.e. notifiy the officer of the weapon) AND you better have a concealed carry license with you as well.
Joe M February 26, 2013 at 04:13 AM
Sorry Nancy, you got it wrong. Read the law here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=9.41.050 "A person shall not carry or place a loaded pistol in any vehicle unless the person has a license to carry a concealed pistol and: (i) The pistol is on the licensee's person, (ii) the licensee is within the vehicle at all times that the pistol is there, or (iii) the licensee is away from the vehicle and the pistol is locked within the vehicle and concealed from view from outside the vehicle."
northernlights February 26, 2013 at 08:24 AM
Y'all think you're right. Where's Mr. Trooper? Be great if he'd come back and clean up this mess
RockBerry February 26, 2013 at 11:02 AM
Joe responded with the actual law and you still need clarification? What is your malfunction?
Joe M February 26, 2013 at 03:14 PM
There's one thing I'd like the trooper to clarify. It appears there is no law requiring that you notify an officer you have a gun on your person or in your vehicle. Is that correct? I should add that I think it would be stupid not to inform the officer, but I'm curious about what the law requires.
Rosalito March 23, 2013 at 10:41 PM
Tell him that, yes... I was speeding or whatever the infraction was and sign the ticket. You haven't broken any other law so you don't have to speak to anything else. IF no other laws were broken it is against the law for them to go on a "fishing expedition" with other questions and even more... you're stupid to become a part of his witch hunt mentality.
Rosalito March 23, 2013 at 11:01 PM
Let the officer start talking. He or she will probably ask to see your license and vehicle registration. Many people make the mistake of insisting the officer tell them why they were stopped before they'll comply. Don't make that mistake. Reply "okay" or "sure," then hand over the documents. One of the first things traffic cops learn in the police academy is to decide, before leaving their vehicle, whether they're going to give a ticket or just a warning. They may act as though they still haven't made up their minds and are going to let you off only if you'll cooperate. Don't fall for this. The hesitating officer may be trying to appear open-minded in order to extract admissions out of you, to use them against you in court if necessary. The strategy is to try to get you to admit either that you committed a violation or that you were so careless, inattentive, or negligent that you don't know whether you did or not. The officer might start by asking you the sort of question whose lack of a definite answer would imply guilt, like, "Do you know why I stopped you?" Or, he or she might ask, "Do you know how fast you were going?" Your answers, if any, should be non-committal and brief, like a simple "No" to the first question or a very confident, "Yes, I do," to the second. If the officer then tells you how fast he or she thinks you were going or what he or she thinks you did, don't argue. Give a noncommittal answer, like, "I see," or no answer at all.

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