Guns.com recently reported a story in which a Philadelphia, resident Mark Fiorino was stopped and briefly detained for legally carrying a sidearm openly. Remarkably, the officer who stopped Fiorino had no idea that open carry is perfectly legal in Pennsylvania. Even more remarkably, Fiorino tape recorded the entire incident. News of the encounter, during which police shouted profanities at Fiorino and repeatedly accused him of breaking the law, raised eyebrows nationwide.
The incident also left many wondering what, if any, is the proper protocol for law-abiding citizens who are stopped by police while carrying. As was illustrated by Fiorino’s unfortunate case, one cannot always rely on law enforcement to know the letter of the law.
Although it would be an impossible task for Guns.com to unearth every state and local ordinance dealing with the many types of gun carry, we found at least one example highlighting the legal requirements of concealed carriers in the state of Michigan. The rules read as follows:
1. An individual licensed to carry a concealed pistol who is stopped by a police officer (traffic stop or otherwise) while in possession of a pistol shall immediately disclose to the police officer that he or she is carrying a concealed pistol either on their person or in their motor vehicle.
- Failure to disclose this information to a police officer carries the following penalties.
- First offense = State Civil Infraction – $500 fine and 6-month CPL license suspension.
- Second offense = State Civil Infraction – $1000 fine and CPL license revocation.
2. An individual licensed to carry a concealed pistol shall have the license in his or her possession at all times he or she is carrying a concealed pistol.
- Failure to possess CPL license when carrying a concealed pistol is a State Civil Infraction and a $100.00 fine.
3. Upon request, an individual licensed to carry a concealed pistol shall show both of the following to a police officer:
- His or her license to carry a concealed pistol.
- His or her driver license or personal identification card.
- Failure to show CPL license and Michigan driver license or Michigan personal identification card when carrying a concealed pistol is a State Civil Infraction and $100.00 fine.
4. A pistol carried in violation of numbers 1, 2, or 3 is subject to immediate seizure by a police officer. If a pistol is seized for failure to possess a CPL while carrying a concealed pistol:
- Individual has 45 days in which to display their license to carry a concealed pistol to the law enforcement agency that seized the pistol and the pistol shall be returned.
- If the individual does not display their license to carry a concealed pistol within 45 days the pistol is subject to forfeiture.
To Ensure Safety During Police Encounters, if you are stopped by a law enforcement officer you should:
- Keep your hands where an officer can see them.
- Cooperate fully with the police officer.
- If you have a gun with you, tell the police officer as soon as possible.
- Do not make any quick movements, especially toward the weapon.
- If in a vehicle at night, turn on your vehicle’s dome light.
In certain circumstances, a law enforcement officer may take temporary possession of the weapon during interaction with the individual to ensure the safety of the officer and others. The police officer will return the pistol at the end of the stop unless the individual is being charged with a violation of the act or any other law that allows for the weapon to be seized.
Guns.com recently reported that in New Mexico, the Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement can legally seize a firearm during a traffic stop even if the individual being stopped has not committed a crime or given police reason to believe any crime has occurred. According to the final paragraph of Michigan’s concealed carry guidelines, law enforcement in that state reserve the right to do the same.
Many have questioned the constitutionality of such a seizure, along with a number of other guidelines with which concealed carriers are required to comply. As was the case in New Mexico, a number of the “responsibilities of individuals with a concealed pistol license” are likely to be judicially challenged in the future.
Guns.com would like to hear about any local or state “responsibilities” imposed on carriers in your area. In addition, we encourage those openly carrying or carrying concealed to become familiar with state and local carry statutes. Unfortunately, if Mark Fiorino’s case is any indication, leaving it up to police to follow the letter of the law can prove insufficient.