(Reprinted as received)

My name is Donnie Pridemore.  I am a Detective Lieutenant for an Illinois police department.  I have collateral assignments as a long time police firearms instructor, and tactical team assistant team leader for a bi-state, multi-jurisdictional  tactical team that operates in both Iowa and Illinois.  On the weekends, I am an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor and Illinois Concealed Carry Instructor.  I teach classes most weekends and sometimes during the week.  I am obviously very pro-second amendment, and conservative in political views.

Today, when I came to work I noticed one of my officers had a copy of your January 2014 issue of GunNews.  I had not heard of your publication before, and began reading through it.  I was very pleased with what I found in your publication.  That is, until I got to page 23.  At the top of the page is an article titled “Don’t be a dummy!  Say “No!” to searches”.   This article was evidently produced in the year 2004 by a now deceased attorney named Paul Vallandigham.   This is important for a couple of reasons.  The first is that since it was written by an attorney, he of course wants to tell everyone to refuse consent to search when requested by a police officer.  I don’t think it takes a Rocket Scientist to figure out that private criminal defense attorneys make their living from defending people accused of crimes.  Having their clients consent to a search where contraband is found does not help their case.  This is one sided, and does not give the perspective of what a police officer might advise someone who has nothing to hide.  That is, however, your perogative to print articles like this. Now, for the second and most alarming aspect of this article.  The article was written BEFORE the passing of concealed carry in Illinois.  Because of this, at the time it was written, the “advice” given was lawful.  However, since the passing of concealed carry in Illinois, the advice that if asked if there are any guns or weapons in the car the answer is always “No”, would be illegal!  Is it really a good idea to give advice your readers to violate a law that took us so long to get?  The section regarding this situation reads as follows:

(430 ILCS 66/) Firearm Concealed Carry Act. Section 10 (h)

(h) If an officer of a law enforcement agency initiates an investigative stop, including but not limited to a traffic stop, of a licensee or a non-resident carrying a concealed firearm under subsection (e) of Section 40 of this Act, upon the request of the officer the licensee or non-resident shall disclose to the officer that he or she is in possession of a concealed firearm under this Act, present the license upon the request of the officer if he or she is a licensee or present upon the request of the officer evidence under paragraph (2) of subsection (e) of Section 40 of this Act that he or she is a non-resident qualified to carry under that subsection, and identify the location of the concealed firearm. During a traffic stop, any passenger within the vehicle who is a licensee or a non-resident carrying under subsection (e) of Section 40 of this Act must comply with the requirements of this subsection (h).

Being a believer in the Constitution, I certainly don’t have a problem with anyone exercising their right to refuse a request to search their vehicle.  However, advising or encouraging illegal acts will only give reason to those that oppose concealed carry more “ammunition”, if you will, to use against us.  The other unfortunate circumstance of this article is that I will not be able to subscribe and support your publication.  I cannot have my name associated with any organization that promotes illegal activity, especially after it took us so long to get concealed carry in Illinois.


Donnie R. Pridemore
Lead Instructor
Quad City Firearms Training Center



The Editor Emeritus replies:

by John Boch
Mr. Pridemore is correct in that the original article was written in 2004 by a founding member of Guns Save Life’s predecessor organization, a criminal defense attorney who represented clients both guilty and innocent.

Mr. Vallandigham was well-known for providing sound legal advice at no charge, including his strong recommendation to decline any police searches of homes, persons or vehicles, and the reason why:  there’s nothing but downside to waiving your privacy rights.  Good people can be caught up in laws they don’t even know exist by consenting to voluntary searches.

Mr. Pridemore, after trotting out the “if you’ve got nothing to hide” meme that is a favorite of police officers everywhere, then points out that Vallandigham’s (any by extension, Guns Save Life’s) advice is contradictory to the new Firearms Concealed Carry Act, citing a section from that law.  He is correct in rare circumstances.

Sadly, Mr. Vallandigham passed away before he could even see Illinois’ new law, which will impact maybe 3% of Illinois’ population and only then if they are carrying a loaded firearm on or about their person.  

Those seeking licensure will have had specific training in how to handle disclosure to a police officer if asked if they are carrying a concealed weapon.  Yes, if you are carrying a loaded gun on or about your person under the provisions of the FCCA, if asked, you are required to notify the officer that you are carrying.  If you are not covered by the FCCA, you are not required to volunteer that you have a gun – unloaded and encased, for example – to the police officer.  

Doing so, particularly in northeastern Illinois, could result in lengthy delays in your travel plans, as some officers don’t understand the law, or will use acknowledgement that there’s an unloaded and encased firearm as a license to conduct a thorough search of the vehicle and its occupants as part of a fishing expedition.

In fact, you don’t have to go to Chicagoland to find police officers who reportedly say they will take a hard line on gun owners who transport their firearms outside their homes.  As an example, at the Rantoul general members meeting, one guest said that the Chief Bane from the Paxton Police Department, as well as some Illinois State Police troopers have reportedly all said they would arrest a FOID-cardholder carrying an unloaded gun in a fanny pack, which is perfectly legal in the State of Illinois and has been for nearly fifteen years.

As for Mr. Pridemore not wishing to associate with Guns Save Life, we regret he can’t look past his police officer bias against those educating citizens about their civil rights and explaining the upside to exercising them.  GSL membership, like firearm ownership, isn’t for everyone.

If you, gentle reader, would like to join an edgy civil-rights organization not afraid to be aggressive and outspoken in the support of all Constitutional rights, not just firearm ownership, you too can join Guns Save Life and become part of our family.  We’re not perfect, but we have yet to meet anyone who can walk on water.  Membership enrollment materials can be found here.

22 thoughts on “Illegal advice??? An upset cop responds to our “Do not consent to a search” article”
  1. I think it’s safe to scratch Mr. Pridemore off any list of trainers I’d want me and my better half to train under. “If you have nothing to hide” really galls me.

    I had a police officer pull that when I was a clueless young man fresh out of the Army. Sat on the side of the road for a half-hour while he trashed my car.

    Then he played the “nice guy” by not writing me a ticket.

    I know my rights better now, and I like how GSL tries to educate those who don’t yet know them.

    With “friends” like Pridemore, who needs the ATF, right?


  2. I too was confused a little by the article when it came out.

    I’m glad for the clarification that finally came.

    I looked for it in this last issue and didn’t see it.

    I hope you will include it in the paper.

    I hope Mr. Pridemore reconsiders and joins GSL.

    I think this might just be a big misunderstanding.

  3. Several other police officers that I know of are members and regular attendees at GSL meetings. If we truly were “advocating illegal activity” I think they would get up and walk out. They don’t, which to me is a vote of confidence.

    Context is everything. Shooting hedge apples at the range is not illegal. Shooting hedge apples off your neighbor’s tree without his consent IS illegal. Same activity, different legality.

    We do not advocate illegal activity. We do advocate that people know and exercise their rights.

  4. There is NO upside to consenting to a vehicle search. Always refuse consent. I believe this was the main message Paul was hammering home. “No” is the right answer for consent to search. Period.

    Now on the other hand, I have doubts about the little detail of saying “No” to the question “Do you have guns in the car?”, as opposed to a carefully worded refusal to answer the question, or just silence. If you refuse to answer, or kinda-sorta answer with “I have nothing illegal on me or about my person”, then you haven’t LIED to the police. Although not under oath during a traffic stop or street contact with LEO’s … I imagine that you could be arrested and charged with providing false information, obstructing a police officer, or some similar charge.

    Sort of similar to a ‘resisting arrest’ charge when it’s a bogus arrest. Even if cleared if everything else later, they could stick you with the resisting charge. I just can’t imaging outright lying to LEO’s is ever a good idea, even if you’re not breaking any law.

    Any licensed IL attorneys reading this that can confirm that there is no potential legal penalty for a bald-faced lie to an LEO?

  5. Personally I have a lot to hide that’s why I wear clothes.

    Has far has hoping this man should join GSL.

    In my opinion you are either 100% pro-gun or you are part of the problem.
    Having come from a family with police officers including my father I encourage our good officer to become a 100%-tier

  6. I suppose it’s worth noting that as of this date, *NOBODY* is licensed under the FCCA. Certainly, when that issue of GunNews came out in January, nobody was licensed.

    So, what is this guy’s problem if he’s not upset that we’re telling people to tell him to buzz off when he wants them to consent to a search?


  7. I think this is a training issue for all of us, police, and citizens alike. I hate to admit that I have been pulled over for speeding or for rolling through a stop sign. Not once have I ever been asked if I have anything illegal or if my car could be searched. In my younger and more ignorant days, I probably would have consented. Now, I am not so sure. But for those of us who go through the training, have a FOID card, and a CCW permit, when asked the question if we have anything “illegal” on us, the answer is no. Now if that officer says, do you have any guns in the car or on your person. The answer needs to be yes and I have my permit. It’s going to take some time for all of us to get used to the new law. I saw proceed with caution to everyone.

    Also, it saddens me that this officer has judged us by one article written 8 years ago and makes the “assumption” that we are promoting illegal activities. His own words were that he was enjoying reading GunNews. I would say and do invite him come to a meeting. There is one in Peoria that is not that far away. I would also point out the wide array of professional people we have in attendance. Not only do we have police officers, but federal workers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, techie nerds, office managers, stay at home Moms, and an occasional HR professional. Again, GSL is not for everyone but don’t judge us based on one thing and one thing only. And for the record, it’s not illegal to say no that you do not consent to the search.

  8. Much of this discussion is centered on IL. However many people read this site from other locations and/or travel to other states with their firearm. Laws vary by state. Several have laws requiring you to notify LEOs if you have a firearm. CHECK THE LAWS in the state you are going to be in before saying No to the gun question asked by an officer.

    Always decline to consent to a search and always ask if you are being detained or if you are free to go. There is a burden in the officer to articulate why you were detained. If they can’t they will either let you leave or risk evidence suppression (and lawsuit for unlawful detention). If you don’t ask if you can leave and just assume you can’t then they may have time to bring the dog and simply waste your time when otherwise they might have just sent you on your way.

  9. I just got back to my home in a southern state from a 4 day visit to the state of Illinois. While there I rehearsed my possible encounter with law enforcement and wondered about this very issue. I had my carry gun unloaded and in the console separate from my ammunition. The point I was unsure of was what is the legal definition of a “Concealed” firearm. Does that mean it is only considered “concealed” if it is loaded? Or does normal transport of unloaded, encased firearms qualify as “Concealed?” I would like to hear a lawyer that is knowledgeable of the language in the statue weigh in.

    1. Tiber:

      Do you have a CCW license from your home state?

      If so, you’re good to carry in your car or leave it stowed in a locked car. Don’t step outside of the car with it on you. Leave it in the car and lock the car if you leave it.

      Without a CCW, there are two ways for a non-resident to carry in IL:

      1. Broken down in a non-functioning state. – OR –

      2. Stored so it’s inaccessible (trunk, or absent a trunk, a locked container as far away from the passengers as possible).


    2. JBoch, I have not read any statute that says Illinois honors in any way a ccw from any other state. Can you give me a statute to confirm your claim? And yes, I have a CCW permit from another state.

    3. I just had to explain this to a prospective student this AM John. He’s an out of state resident with a current out of state CCW permit and has business in Illinois. What he had been told by assorted LEO’s was completely wrong. I was not surprised…

  10. ** Permit MUST BE from YOUR state of residence to count **


    Section 40.

    Subsection D

    (Basically, it’s right above Section 45)

    (e) Nothing in this Act shall prohibit a non-resident from
    transporting a concealed firearm within his or her vehicle in
    Illinois, if the concealed firearm remains within his or her
    vehicle and the non-resident:
    (1) is not prohibited from owning or possessing a
    firearm under federal law;
    (2) is eligible to carry a firearm in public under the
    laws of his or her state or territory of residence; and
    (3) is not in possession of a license under this Act.
    If the non-resident leaves his or her vehicle unattended,
    he or she shall store the firearm within a locked vehicle or
    locked container within the vehicle in accordance with
    subsection (b) of Section 65 of this Act.

    1. Thanks! Now if all LEO’s would understand this and not harass me because they don’t know or care about the law.

    2. Good frickin’ luck!

      Honestly, though, the vast majority of LEOs in Illinois are knowledgeable, professional and very decent bordering on nice.

      It’s that 1% of el jerkos that can really make your life miserable.


  11. Put me down with Sam.

    Or, I should say my son. He was dropping a co-worker off at a trailer park and on the way out, one of Champaign’s finest stopped him.

    “You’re in an area known for drugs,” the cop said.

    “I dropped off my co-worker.”

    “What’s his name?”

    Son gave the cop his co-worker’s name. Cop wanted to know the address. Son told him, “I dunno. He pointed out the trailer and I dropped him off.”

    One thing led to another and my son gave permission to search the car.

    Cop tried to say a pebble under his floormat was a crack rock. Made my son think he was going to jail.

    It was bullshit. Total and complete.

    They let him go after over a half-hour ordeal.

    All for doing his friend a favor and not knowing to say, “No thanks, officer. I do not consent to any searches. Am I free to go?”

  12. You make your own decisions. Do NOT, under any circumstances, allow IDIOT cops to search you or your property. And, unfortunately, unless and until proven otherwise, all cops are either corrupt, idiots or bullies. Yep.

    Watch “Dont Talk to Police ” on the youtube.

    It should be REQUIRED watching for every young person. EVERY YOUNG PERSON, law-abiding, criminal or otherwise. I wish I’d seen something like it before I went to college, or even law school. It would have saved me MUCH trouble, and I’m law-abiding.

    If you follow this professor’s instructions, you will simply AVERT any potential for trouble.

    AND, you should record every encounter with or observation of law enforcement activity. IT is YOUR constitutional right.

    Keep the honest cops honest, and DISSUADE the crooked cops from taking advantage of YOU.

    Just DON’T TALK TO COPS. PERIOD> DON’T Call to complain. Don’t answer questions. Don’t be a witness.

    There are too many rotten apples to know the good ones.

  13. Never, Never ask a policeman for legal advice. Only a lawyer should be asked legal advice. Never waive your rights.

  14. Well I am learning a lot. But I can guarantee. The Officer that OUR orginazation. Does NOT never ever promote illegal activity.

Comments are closed.