This question comes up quite frequently in my classes: ‘Do I have to tell the police that I have a gun or a gun license if I get pulled over?’ I will start by saying that in many other states when a police officer pulls you over, and if you do have a gun license, the first words out of your mouth will have to be “I have a gun license”, if you do not say that as the first thing out of your mouth you will be arrested. If you say ‘hello’ before you say ‘I have a gun license’, you will be arrested. But this IS NOT a requirement/law here in Ma……..yet…..
When you are pulled over on the highways or byways in Ma. you are not being pulled over because you happen to be a legal gun license holder, no, you most likely are being pulled over for a motor vehicle violation/infraction of some sort, typically speeding as the most common reason.
As a gun license holder of a Ma. class ‘A’ LTC or FID you may be, or you might not be carrying or have a long gun in the car at the time when you are pulled over. Following is an important ‘tip’ for you to seriously consider for handguns. Even though most of us can easily reach our glove box from behind the steering wheel in the little shoe boxes that pass as cars these days, and even though you would be considered under ‘direct control’ because you can easily reach the glove box, NEVER have a hand gun where your car registration ‘lives‘, do you see where I am going with this? The police officer asking for your drivers license, proof of insurance and registration does not know you from a hole in the wall, he does NOT need to see a handgun tumble from your glove box, bad things could happen to you from there…….use your own imagination on this one. He/she would have a legitimate reason to be very ‘upset’ with you. If you feel like having a handgun in you’re glove box keep the registration SOMEWHERE ELSE, maybe on your visor…
When the officer runs your information in his cruiser computer he may see that you are a legal gun license holder, so what? As I said before, you are not being pulled over because you happen to be a legal gun license holder. If the officer asks if you are carrying, this is as far as that conversation needs to go; ‘Yes sir I am” or if not “No sir, not today” don’t lie about it, there is no legitimate reason for the conversation about a legal gun license to go any farther. If a police officer says he would like to search your car, and you know there is no reason or ‘probable cause’ for him to do so, don’t be bullied, ask if he has a search warrant, this should end any fishing trip in its tracks.
There are police officers out there, (hopefully very few) that may try to treat you badly because they personally do not like the idea of anyone having a gun license, or maybe they are young, (rookies) and possess far more authority than they possess matureity, not a very good combination for public relations/service. My advice is to politely listen to the unprofessional rant, at the end of the tirade ask for his/her badge number and name. Write the chief a letter clearly detailing what happened including time of day and date, any witnesses etc, then cc, (courtesy copy) it at the end of the letter to the towns selectmen, by name, to your lawyer, by name, and to your personal ‘file’. Be sure to send it certified mail with return receipt to all listed, this way everyone will be on the same ‘sheet of music’ about the unprofessional bully in this matter. You will be doing the chief/town a favor in the long run. The chief may already have complaints against this person and will, or should know he needs to nip it in the bud before it costs the town an expensive lawsuit(s).
Mark Shean, About Me
Submitted on 2-22-2013