Concealed Carrying And Law Enforcement: Disclosing That You're Armed
Occasionally, a person will have interactions with law enforcement while concealed carrying. This presents a question about whether or not - or how to go about - disclosing that one is armed.
Bear in mind that this is not legal advice, in any way, shape or form. Rather, this is meant for general discussion purposes.
Concealed Carry And Traffic Stop
Disclosing that one is concealed carrying during traffic stop falls into one of two categories - something a person may want to do or something a person has to do. It depends on the disclosure laws of the state a person is in.
There is also what is called the "duty to inform." The duty to inform is imposed by state regulation onto the person who is licensed to carry concealed. It is either full upfront disclosure or disclosure if asked. That means that if a person is carrying concealed and stopped by police, they either have to tell any police officer that they are legally carrying a firearm from the get-go, or they have to disclose whether they are carrying if asked by a police officer.
Only a few states impose no duty to disclose whatsoever and a small number also have special circumstances regarding when a person does or doesn't have a duty to disclose.
Consult the laws of your state or the state you are traveling in for more information, as the laws of each state are specific to that state.
If there is any nearly universal requirement, it's that a person have their concealed permit on them. In case an officer asks to see a permit, almost every state requires a person have their license available, which is why it's a good idea to always keep your concealed carry permit on you.
Passenger's Duty To Inform
However, what if a person is legally carrying concealed and is a passenger in a car that is stopped by police? Most laws really only concern the person that is being detained by police, which in the case of a traffic stop is almost always the driver.
At the very least, informing an officer in this situation is supererogatory - you may not be obligated to inform an officer that you are legally carrying a handgun, but it is definitely a good idea.
However, there are few mentions of concealed carrying passengers in most state laws - in fact, Ohio is more or less the only state that mentions it specifically. At that, any vehicle occupants (including the driver) that are legally carrying a concealed weapon are obligated to inform a police officer during a traffic stop that they are carrying a concealed weapon, are licensed to do so, and provide the license along with photo ID.
With that being said, what most states DO have in their concealed carry statutes is a duty to present, upon request from a police officer, a copy of a concealed carry permit for anyone that is legally carrying. Therefore, if you are legally carrying while a passenger in someone else's car, make sure that you have your license on your person.
Be Aware Of Duty To Inform Laws
Whether driving, a passenger, or on foot, be aware of the duty to inform laws in the jurisdiction you are in. Some additional laws may apply in specific municipalities, or they may not - again, depending on the jurisdiction.
A common refrain is the concealed carriers are among the most law-abiding citizens out there. If that is true, be compliant with law enforcement. A good strategy is to provide a copy of your concealed carry license along with a state-issued ID (such as a driver's license) if asked for identification by law enforcement.
At minimum, be prepared to provide your permit upon request, if not disclose immediately that you are carrying and provide the license.
About The Author
Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests include camping, hunting, concealed carry, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible..