Whatever else Arizona might be, it is a state with lots of gun owners and the state Department of Transportation obviously recognizes this and has added some tips on traffic stop etiquette in its Driver License Manual for armed motorists who might get stopped on the highway.
The odds of police encounters with legally armed citizens are going up in the Grand Canyon State, with approximately 319,000 active concealed weapons permits in the state. And that doesn’t count the number of people who may, under Arizona law, be exercising “constitutional carry” without a permit.
This is the kind of advice legally-armed motorist across the country might use in order to prevent another Philando Castile-type tragedy where a police officer fatally shot an armed motorist on a traffic stop. That point was made by state Rep. Reginald Bolding (D-Laveen), in remarks to the Arizona Daily Star and Tucson.com. He reportedly helped write the new section.
As Liberty Park Press recently reported, the latest estimate on the number of legally-licensed armed citizens is more than 16.3 million, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center. That includes more than a million each in Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas, and more than 584,000 in Washington state. In 11 states, the number of legally armed citizens is above 10 percent of the total adult population.
Here’s what the Arizona manual says:
“…drivers with firearms in the vehicle should keep your hands on the steering wheel in a visible location and when the officer approaches let them know that you have a firearm in the vehicle and where the firearm is located. If requested, the officer may take possession of the weapon, for safety reasons, until the contact is complete.”
This advice is actually buried in the back of the manual, on Page 57. The manual spans 60 pages.
Arizona’s revised driving manual might seem like a refreshing approach to a dilemma that may or may not get all the attention it should, though it has received some news coverage. With increasing numbers of Americans going armed, it seems like a good idea to offer some guidelines, even if veteran police and sheriff’s deputies consciously approach every vehicle as though someone inside is armed.
It makes even more sense with the approach of hunting seasons in another month in many states. Figure any time after Sept. 1, when hunters begin pursuing mourning dove, grouse and other species, if a car, truck or SUV gets pulled over, the chances that there’s a gun on board go up.