Letter Re: Caught Between OPSEC and a Hard Place

A friend of mine had a recent encounter with the police that illustrates the importance of Operational Security (OPSEC), even for the tiniest details. My friend is a survivalist and keeps both an SKS (unloaded but with ammo nearby) and a CZ handgun (loaded) in the cab of his truck. This is basically what Boston T. Party and others recommend: a handgun instantly at the ready and a rifle nearby. My friend does not have a CCW permit and in Washington State you must have a permit to have a loaded gun in a vehicle. He was pulled over while driving on the freeway, and his conversation with the officer who pulled him over went something like:

Cop: “I pulled you over because you failed to signal when you changed lanes…”
My Friend: “Oh, that’s odd, I know I used my signal.”
Cop: “…And I see that you have an NRA sticker on the back of your truck. Do you have any firearms in the vehicle?”
My Friend: “Yes.”
Cop: “Get out, I’m going to search the vehicle.”

After searching and finding the CZ, the cop arrested my friend for having a concealed weapon without a permit (note that the gun was “concealed” in the car, not on his person). With my friend locked in the back of the police car, the cop proceeded to hold the SKS up in the air on the side of the freeway, checking the chamber to see if it was loaded (while hundreds of people drove by). I’ll skip the rant about this incident further lowering my already-low opinion of the Police, and concentrate on the OPSEC implications.

The cop never asked permission to search the vehicle: he informed my friend that he was going to search. My friend likely did not commit any traffic infraction, and was probably pulled over just for having an NRA sticker. He is now facing misdemeanor charges for carrying concealed without a permit; If he is convicted he will have a criminal record. The CZ has been confiscated and he will never get it back.

Like many people, my friend did not want to get a CCW permit and put his name on a government list of people who carry weapons; he saw getting a CCW as a breach of OPSEC. He chose to exercise his Second Amendment rights despite an unjust state law and he carried without a permit. If he hadn’t committed another, tiny breach of OPSEC, he would not have gotten caught. It’s sad that we’re at the point where even being seen as a supporter of the NRA has become a breach of OPSEC, and something we must hide from the police. Because of this incident I will be removing the NRA sticker from my own vehicle soon. – “Big D” in Washington

JWR Replies: To begin with, your friend handed his exchange with the officer the wrong way. He could have maintained his privacy and his Fourth Amendment rights by not answering the officer’s question or by changing the subject, when the officer went on his “fishing expedition.” I am a Christian and I don’t believe in bearing false witness, but there is no Biblical admonition about opening one’s mouth. In fact, there is just the opposite: See: Proverbs 18:7: “A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.” I also recommend the “Don’t Talk to the Police” lecture by Professor James Duane, that has been mentioned before in SurvivalBlog. I consider it “must” viewing for teenagers and adults. I also recommend studying the book You & the Police! by Boston T. Party.

And, yes, it is a sad state of affairs when we have to hide our political affiliations when traveling public highways.