Hyper-Aggressive, Trigger-Happy Cops

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Trigger-happy, over-aggressive cops are – unfortunately – a reality. Which is why it’s probably a good idea to get your concealed handgun permit (CHP) if you carry a gun with you in a car.

Even in – especially in – states where open carry is legal.

Let me explain… .

In my own state of Virginia, for example, it is perfectly legal to have a gun lying openly on the seat beside you – even if you don’t have a permit. It is also a perfectly good way to end up getting shot – the cop who shoots you uttering the magic words – officer safety – to justify his actions.

Bear in mind the fact that a cop’s testimony is almost always taken as presumptively truthful while the testimony of a non-cop is considered presumptively untruthful. Or not considered at all. You – assuming you are still alive – will have to support your testimony for it to be given any weight in court. Let alone equal weight.

Absent video or audio corroboration, in court, the cop’s word wins over yours every time. He says, ” I saw a gun” – and it’s all over before you can get in a word edgewise.

But let’s rewind a little bit and consider a traffic stop scenario:

You are stopped by police for some reason (or no reason at all, if it’s one of those egregious Fourth Amendment-free zones they call “safety” checkpoints). You have your handgun with you in the car. The law says this is legal, provided the weapon is in plain sight – and not “concealed,” for which you’d need a permit. Remember: If you don’t have a CHP – and the gun is not plainly visible – you are setting yourself up for a felony bust. Since you don’t want that, you put the gun on the seat beside you, all nice and legal – and wait for Officer Unfriendly to approach.

Technically, this is what you are supposed to do – according to the law. But you probably know what will happen – or what’s likely to happen – when the cop walks up to your vehicle and spots a gun in plain view.

Legal open carry or not, the situation is going to get tense – real quick. Cops have been given a thorough course in Authoritarian Over-Reaction 101. Some are just looking for a reason to release their Inner Chimp. If you have bad luck and have to deal with such a cop, the mere sight of your gun may set him off – and before you have a chance to say anything, it’s very possible you’ll be staring down the barrel of his gun.

And that – being able to say something before he sees something – is the key thing here.

If you have a CHP, you have the opportunity to say something – specifically, that you are a CHP holder – before the cop sees your gun.

It could very well save your life.

Because the first thing the cop sees will not be a handgun. Because as a CHP permit holder, your handgun is legally concealed – in your waistband, on your hip, in the glovebox – wherever. The point is – it’s out of plain sight.

And more to the point, legally out of plain sight.

This will give you that possibly precious moment or three to advise the cop that you are a CHP holder. He’ll know about the permit before he knows you have a gun.

And the fact that you are a CHP holder may defuse the tension all by itself – even though you may have a loaded gun on you. Why? Because the fact that you are a permit holder tells the cop right away that you’ve got no felony convictions in your background. Ergo, you are probably not a threat to “officer safety.” At least, it will be harder for him to so claim, in the event of an unjustified escalation.

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Eric Peters [send him mail] is an automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his website.

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