Thursday, 13 December 2012
Spotting a Concealed Weapon
From a Canadian law enforcement perspective, I have only seized a couple of handguns directly off of criminals on the street. Most of the guns that I have found were hidden in vehicles, luggage, etc. in relatively close proximity to the subject. The very first gun I ever seized was during an early morning check of a hitch-hiker for warrants. As I spoke with him, I foolishly remained seated in the driver’s seat of the cruiser and he kept reaching inside his coat (it was a cold February morning). I finally made him stand in front of the cruiser so I could watch him as I checked his ID. It turned out that he had pulled an armed robbery with a handgun the day before and a warrant existed for his arrest. I took him down at gunpoint and, upon searching him; I found that he had a .25 Auto in his front, left, inside coat pocket. He told me he didn’t pull it because he thought he couldn’t beat me on the draw. Note that I was seated in the car with a .38 in a thumb-break holster, my hand was on the gun because I usually rested it there however, I would have had issues drawing and presenting to him. Essentially, I would have been trapped behind the wheel. Obviously, I have since practiced drawing from being seated in a vehicle and working around the steering wheel. And, of course, I have since never stayed seated in the car when speaking to a “client”. I find that I should note that this was in 1992 and there was very little “tactical” instruction or training available or offered by our service at that time.
In other cases, I’ve watched armed criminals who were known to be carrying a concealed firearm who were constantly adjusting the gun. Upon their arrest, it was found that they were not wearing any form of holster. I have seen cheap nylon holsters worn by some criminals but more often than not, they did not have a holster. In these cases, they were carrying in a coat pocket or in their waist-band in either an appendix carry or strong side carry in the coat pocket or kidney position.
In my experience, I’ve noticed that ,like many plain clothes or undercover cops, armed people can’t seem to stop touching the pistol, adjusting it or even flashing it and, in a foot chase, the gun could likely fall out or end up in their hand (I’ve never had this happen but know of people who have. I’ve been in foot chases where knives were dropped because they weren’t secured). I do know of some higher-end criminals who have both firearms and military experience who do carry holsters and who do practice their skills. Some of these individuals carry a daily and can conceal a firearm quite well with no indicators that they are armed. This lends well to the adage of “Never underestimate your opponents’ skills”.
Interestingly, there are body language clues and mannerisms that can indicate that a person is armed. In some cases, even the demeanor of the person will change.