Concealed Carry and Officer Safety
An aspect of the recent rise of concealed carry that doesn't always get discussed is that of officer safety, or in other words, additional risks faced by police officers as a result of more civilians carrying. Has concealed carry made officers safer? Has it put them at greater peril? Or has there been no impact?
It's a good thing for the concealed carrier to think about. Besides the obvious implications of needing to follow best practices for gun safety, it's also good to think about the impact during potential interactions with law enforcement.
What Police Think About Concealed Carry
Police are people, just like everyone else; if you poll them or ask them questions, you'll get diverse answers. Police feelings on concealed carry is no different. Search the web sometime and check out law enforcement publications such as PoliceOne and others; you'll find a variety of opinions.
Some believe that citizens shouldn't be armed and that guns and carry should be tightly controlled and regulated. That's why some jurisdictions (such as those in California, Hawaii and so on) are so loathe to grant concealed carry permits to citizens. The number of annually issued permits in Hawaii have been said to be countable on one hand for many years, and the city of San Francisco is known to be - for all intents and purposes - no-issue.
However, other officers and law enforcement officials have been very supportive of civilian carry. A good number of officers believe that since violence could erupt at any time during the course of their duties, the same is true (and it is) for citizens and the only way to guard against it is by carrying.
One common theme is that if civilians are going to carry, concealed carry training should be undertaken or required by the citizen, to know both how and when to draw their gun.
Impacts On Officer Safety
The largest impact of concealed carry on officer safety is the increasing likelihood of a person being armed during a traffic stop or encountered on foot. The bloodbath that so many predicted with the rise of concealed carry permit issuance over the past couple decades obviously didn't come to pass, but an increased likelihood of armed citizens is still nothing that can be taken lightly.
Additionally, people who aren't sensitive to the potential risks may not be aware of how best to act when they interact with police while carrying, which has led to some awkward encounters.
What's recommended is to inform officers that you're armed. Be upfront and do so early; you may, depending on the laws of your state, be required to. Then ask how they want you to proceed. Do NOT make any sudden movements and bear in mind that they do not like surprises, especially a person whom they know to have a firearm in their possession.
What Has Been The Impact Of Concealed Carry For Officers?
Many departments have barely noticed any effects of concealed carry at all. For instance, a recent West Virginia Export Telegram article about the impact of recent West Virginia concealed carry laws found officers in and around Bridgeport didn't really noticed much difference after the law was passed. West Virginia recently passed constitutional carry, though many people there still obtain training and permits.
The rise of legal concealed carry has in some instances been a benefit to police, as armed citizens have come to the aid of officers in trouble.
If you concealed carry, it behooves one to be aware of the potential impact on police. If you make contact with officers, it's good practice to alert them to the fact that you're carrying...and let them take charge from there. Additionally, it's good practice to get educated and take concealed carry training. An educated citizen is almost always a more responsible citizen.
About The Author
Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.