Concealed carry law lays out rights, responsibilities during stops by the police

State lawmakers a year ago amended Illinois' fledgling concealed carry law to help eliminate problems that could arise when a police officer stops a person legally carrying a concealed weapon.

Authorities are investigating a fatal shooting Wednesday of an African-American man by a white police officer during a traffic stop for a broken tail light in a St. Paul, Minnesota, suburb. During the incident, the graphic aftermath of which was videotaped by the man's girlfriend, the man allegedly was explaining that he had a valid concealed carry permit and was reaching for his wallet.

While saying he was being careful not to rush to judgment regarding that particular case, local firearms and concealed carry instructor Mickey Schuch said permit holders should have a plan for what they will do if pulled over or approached by law enforcement.

“People need to put some thought into how they will behave in that scenario,” Schuch said.

The Illinois State Police-mandated curriculum for the 16-hour Illinois concealed carry course includes a block of instruction regarding what the law says regarding an investigative stop by law enforcement. The concealed carry law now lays out some extra steps for the safety of both parties – lawmakers amended the law in 2015, a year after concealed carry took effect in Illinois.

Illinois, like Minnesota, does not require people to disclose that they are legally carrying a concealed weapon, or have one in the car, unless they are asked by the officer. But when asked to provide identification, the law allows a person to reveal that fact by providing the permit along with his or her driver’s license.

A police officer is allowed to safely secure the privately carried firearm for the duration of the stop, or may ask the person to do so. Emergency services personnel responding to a scene are allowed to do the same. The law requires the permit holder to comply. Law enforcement or emergency services personnel must return the firearm to the permit holder upon the end of the stop if he or she has determined the person is not a threat to anyone present and is physically and mentally capable of possessing it.

Schuch said people with concealed carry permits should talk through their plan and even practice it, no different from practicing shooting at the range. An investigative stop, which is stressful for both the person and the police officer alike, could become even more so if the permit holder gets agitated or says something inappropriate.

“I think if you’re the kind of person who can’t maintain composure during a traffic stop, you shouldn’t be the kind of person who should be walking around with a gun,” Schuch said.

The state police have issued 181,749 active concealed carry permits as of the end of May.