Baltimore City Police Profiling Legal Concealed Weapons Owners?

A Twitter discussion earlier tonight between our friends @eyeonannapolis, @baltospectator, and @justin_fenton pointed to @bob_smithey‘s Tumblr blog.

The blog post in question contains an image, found below at the bottom of this post, of an Intelligence Bulletin from the Baltimore PD’s Criminal Intelligence Division. The bulletin, dated May 31, 2011, shows a picture of a window decal (seen at the top of this post) sold by Legally Concealed, a company that also sells a line of clothing and accessories with this same logo on it.

The bulletin points out in big red letters that:

All officers should be familiar with this symbol especially when dealing with the public or conducting traffic stops.  While the individual who is displaying the symbol may not be armed , the presence of the symbol provides an early warning indicator that you MAY be about to encounter an armed individual.

As noted on the bulletin, and pointed out by Fenton on Twitter, the source of the information in this bulletin is the WRTAC. That acroynym stands for the Washington Regional Threat and Analysis Center, which provides a daily open source intelligence briefing. The Washington Post discussed the WRTAC in their heralded investigative series Top Secret America.

Legally Concealed appears to be a part of the National Rifle Association’s Business Alliance and has no appearance of being a fringe website at all. It is interesting that the WRATC and Baltimore PD find this information newsworthy enough to inform law enforcement officers about it. As the son of a career police officer, I would hope smart officers would go into every traffic stop thinking about the possibility of there being a gun in the car.

In fact, people who have gone to the trouble of going through all the legal process and have standards to meet and maintain to hold on to that concealed weapons permit are, in almost every case, the least of the worries of a police officer in Baltimore City. Additionally, as someone who took a concealed weapons training course in another state, there was instruction given on interactions with law enforcement. I specifically remember being told to verbally tell the officer and hand over your concealed permit along with your license, registration and insurance information when stopped.

The city police department in  Baltimore at times seems obsessed on how many guns they’ve taken off the streets rather than criminals who possess those guns illegally. Those are the people the law enforcement officers needs to worry about far more than law-abiding concealed weapons holders. This may not be intended as profiling of concealed weapons permit holders, but it certainly smacks of that very thing. I have to assume the WRTAC has been passing this information on to law enforcement officers in the whole Mid-Atlantic region and I’m sure law enforcement in Maryland might not be as accustomed to this type of thing since Maryland does not have “shall issue” weapons permits like other states. The Maryland law is the old system (I saw it with a family member getting a permit in another state that now has shall issue) where political favoritism and law enforcement cronyism are the only reliable way to get a permit to protect yourself.

I would expect all the brainpower assembled in the original Twitter conversation, especially Justin Fenton, might get to the bottom of this as well as anybody might in the coming days. Maybe it is just a well-intentioned, but misguided, effort to keep law enforcement informed but, to reiterate something I already said, the firearms owned by a concealed weapons permit holder are probably the last firearms a Baltimore City Police Officer has a major cause for concern over. Specifically, the smaller number of permits out there due to the state not being shall issue cuts down on the numbers of permit holders in addition to the unlikely possibility of a permit holder being a threat. What’s next - an intelligence bulletin telling officers to watch out for people with NRA stickers on their cars?

The image of the intelligence bulletin provided by @bob_smithey is below.

UPDATE: I just discovered Thursday morning that Investigative Voice reported on this story Tuesday. I had not seen it last night when I originally wrote this post. I wanted to be sure they got credit for reporting it first.


  1. 1

    Without betraying attorney-client privilege, I can state that this information does NOT surprise me as a practicing attorney in this region. It's a similar attitude in Baltimore County as well.

    Comment by Bruce Godfrey — June 8, 2011 @ 11:37 pm

  2. 2

    yeah…the local gun forum has been up in arms for a week about it, and us non-news-bloggers have been talking about it as well. this is SO NOT GOOD.

    Comment by falnfenix — June 9, 2011 @ 11:05 am

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