Duty to Inform Laws

Justin had police encounter while armed.   Traffic accident.  Pennsylvania does not require you to inform the police if you’re armed.  I was in a similar situation here, and didn’t inform the State Trooper I was armed.  As far as I know he never knew I had a Glock 19 concealed at 4:00.  I figured it would just complicate the situation if I told him, and I’m not a criminal or cop killer.  One time I did get stopped by the police in Texas while armed, I was fortunate that he asked before I had the opportunity to interject.  But I’ve always wondered about that requirement.  I mean, do you have to interrupt the cop if he’s in the middle of asking you a bunch of questions to tell him you’re armed?  I think the answer is yes, which goes against polite human nature to play along with the conversation flow.

I prefer the Pennsylvania law, which is no requirement to inform.  I can accept that it ought to be done as a courtesey, but I don’t think it should be the law.

14 thoughts on “Duty to Inform Laws”

  1. I give the police officer my CPL along with my drivers license during the traffic stop. I figure they can connect the dots and take the lead from there.

    Every encounter has been professional and appropriate with cops in both Washington (the state) and Idaho.

  2. The Texas situation was kind of weird, because it wasn’t your usual traffic stop. The deputy blocks us in so we couldn’t leave, which is technically a seizure, not an arrest. He only needed reasonably articulable suspicion for a stop in that case, but I don’t think he had it.

    But I wasn’t about to offer my license over (either license) because I wasn’t being stopped for a traffic infraction, and the deputy didn’t ask me for it.

  3. +1 to what Joe said. NC law requires you to inform police. My plan is to hand them my CPL with my drivers license and wait for instructions.

  4. In NC if you’re stopped they’ve run your plate and most likely your name and know already so tell ’em quick or depending on how big an sob the cop is you might wind up losing that CCW permit.

  5. Ohio requires anyone carrying to inform. I have stopped to help at accidents and had to call 911 a few times. It is odd since the officer usually shows up and asks why you called. Before you can answer his question you have to say something to the effect of: “Before we continue this conversation I am required to inform you that I have a Concealed Handgun Permit and am currently carrying a firearm”. Every time, the officer has said thanks for letting me know, don’t touch it, and continued on with the conversation.

  6. The actual Texas law is that if a peace officer asks for your driver’s license (or ID) and you have a CHL and you are carrying, then you must also give the officer your CHL at the same time. If you aren’t carrying at the time, there is no need to show the CHL (although you might want to tell the officer, since the DL check will show the CHL status as well).

    On the two occasions that I have been stopped by Texas DPS troopers, as soon as the trooper asked for my driver’s license and insurance card I told him that I had a CHL and that I was carrying. My actual statement was something along the lines of, “Sure… but before I start reaching around for license and insurance I need to let you know that I have a CHL and I’m armed.”

    Technically, this is above and beyond the requirements of the law. However, in the cases so far the troopers have been appreciative that I warned them before I started digging for my wallet and reaching into the glove box.

  7. You are only required to inform if asked for ID. I have met with the police in Texas several times when I was not asked for ID. I never informed them, as I was not required to.

  8. As has been said, at the time of the traffic stop the cop very likely knows that you’re a CCW as soon as he runs your license plate. Therefore it’s better to inform him for reassurance’s sake than to withhold the information and have him speculate (and worry) over the reason for your silence.

  9. As people have said, politely handing your carry permit over with your license has worked for me (it shows up on their SCMODS anyway). The officer asked where it was and asked me to keep my hands on the wheel while he did whatever in his car, then let me go with a warning.

    If any LEOs are reading these comments, PLEASE give a car you pull over a few seconds to pull out their license and registration. Some people keep a handgun in their glove compartment or have to reach past their holster to get their wallet. This happened to me a few years ago and the next thing I knew there was an officer in obvious body armor standing right next to me before I could even reach over to the glove compartment.

  10. I’m pretty sure in Pennsylvania they can’t tell LTC status when they run your plates. I could be wrong about that. But here, so many people have them who don’t regularly carry it might not even be something that they care much about. I’ve only had one law enforcement encounter since I’ve had the LTC, where I’ve had to turn over a driver’s license.

  11. While some states have a legal duty to inform, the real reason you want to tell the officer is to avoid excitement. If you don’t inform the officer, require or not, and he sees the weapon, you’re going to have an interesting encounter involving the drawing of his gun. Not to mention getting to meet a lot more of his friends. Inform the officer early to avoid long explanations later.

    What happens after you inform is going to depend on the situation but if the weapon is on your person, don’t be surprised if they ask for you to hand it over for the duration of the encounter. I have a friend with lots of street police work experience. He told me of a traffic stop where the driver was carrying legally. He had him hand over the gun and put it in his back pocket. After they were done with the stop, he had the guy exit the car, put the gun on the seat and they parted ways.

    Wolfwood, don’t keep your gun in the glove compartment if your registration is also in their. Take your wallet out and throw it on the dash before you stop. Never set it up so you have to go near your gun when you’re pulled over.

    Also, futzing around in the car after your stopped is a good way to get a less congenial encounter as back up will be called. Are you getting your registration or hiding something?

  12. You’ve got it right, Sebastian. It’s a good idea to tell the officer – just so everyone knows – but it shouldn’t be the law. I always wanted to know beforehand on a traffic stop, and was smart enough to know that most people who inform you voluntarily usually have a permit.

  13. I never dig around the car before the officer approaches and tells me what he needs. I keep both hands on the wheel and my fingers spread, dome light on at night. Think about it from the cops point of view: you are in the process of ruining someones day. You don’t know who. The most you know is who the car is supposed to be registered to. You deal with scum on a daily basis. Give the guy( or girl) a break. Tell them where each item is located and that you are going to reach for it and warn them of any surprises. I used to get puled over a LOT. One jerk described my offense as “impersonating a motor vehicle”. One regular officer once asked me “what do you want to fix this week ‘Vinnie'”?, “Turn signals, I always wanted turn signals”!

  14. Before I retired from LE work, I always assumed that everyone I encountered was armed. Any movement made which might have been part of an action to draw a weapon was carefully observed. I would never have relaxed my alertness just because someone said “I’m unarmed.” or because dispatch said the individual wasn’t a CCW license holder.

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