the question is whether the risk of danger to a law enforcement officer created by the forced stop of a person who is armed is eliminated by the fact that state law authorizes persons to obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm.Mr. Robinson argued that if police could frisk a person simply because they may have a gun, in "any state where carrying a firearm is a perfectly legal activity, every citizen could be dangerous, and subject to a Terry frisk and pat down." He conceded that the police had reasonable suspicion to believe he was armed, but argued that the police lacked a basis to believe he was also dangerous.
The Fourth Circuit rejected Mr. Robinson's argument, holding that "an officer who makes a lawful traffic stop and who has a reasonable suspicion that one of the automobile’s occupants is armed may frisk that individual for the officer’s protection and the safety of everyone on the scene."
There is a dissent in this case and it is an interesting read. The dissent reminds us that at the time of Terry it was clear that having a gun could be assumed to be dangerous and thus justify a safety pat-down. Things have changed, today "citizens are legally entitled to arm themselves in public, and there is no reason to think that a person carrying or concealing a weapon during a traffic stop – conduct fully sanctioned by state law – is anything but a law-abiding citizen who poses no threat to the authorities." Thus how could a state sanctioned activity - concealed carry of a gun - also be automatically dangerous?
The dissent follows Ubiles, a Third Circuit case, Northrup, a Sixth Circuit case, and Williams, a Seventh Circuit case setting up an interesting circuit split. The Tenth doesn't seem to have weighed in on this topic so you may have a chance to chart an interesting path.