In an effort to avoid potentially deadly confrontations with police officers during traffic stops, an updated version of the Arizona driver’s manual includes instructions and tips for drivers carrying firearms.
Although drivers manuals in several states include how to handle traffic stops and other interactions with law enforcement, as the Associated Press noted, it appears Arizona is the first state to offer tips specifically aimed at gun owners.
The Arizona Driver License Manual outlines the proper procedure for pulling over and interacting with law enforcement officers, as well as what drivers can expect from an officer during a traffic stop. According to the manual, drivers are expected to comply with the law enforcement officer’s orders, and failure or refusal to do so is a violation of the law and may result in arrest.
In addition to general safety guidelines to follow during traffic stops, the manual states gun owners should keep their hands clearly visible on the steering wheel and immediately notify the officer that they have a firearm and inform the officer where the weapon is located in the vehicle. The manual also notes that, for safety reasons, the officer may take possession of the weapon throughout the remainder of the traffic stop, but that if no crime has been committed, the weapon should be returned to the driver.
The manual states drivers should not reach around inside the vehicle and if an item is needed, first inform the officer what item is to be retrieved and from where, then wait for confirmation from the officer to retrieve that item. The manual also notes that drivers should not exit their vehicle or otherwise approach the officer unless given explicit confirmation to do so.
However, the manual also notes, “Law enforcement officers are expected to maintain the highest level of professionalism during a traffic stop,” and provides instructions for dealing with questionable conduct.
Democratic state Rep. Reginald Bolding, who worked with the Department of Public Safety in developing the new guidelines, said he was inspired to make the changes following the shooting death of Philando Castile last year. Castile, who possessed a valid concealed carry permit, was fatally shot during a traffic stop in Minnesota as he reached for his wallet. Castile had informed the officer he was legally carrying a firearm but continued to reach behind him despite repeated warnings not to do so.
Bolding said the goal was to create “a set of standards,” while Quentin Mehr, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said, “It all comes down to safety.”