What is Duty To Inform?
The duty to inform states are those states having a legal requirement that any concealed carrier disclose that they are armed upon making contact with law enforcement. There variations on the duty to inform, of course, as some require disclosure if asked and others under certain other conditions.
The duty to inform is one of the most important aspects to remember if you ever have to interact with police while carrying concealed. Bear in mind that this is not intended to be legal advice, but rather is a discussion of concealed carry laws that are on the books and thereby publicly accessible.
Types Of Duty To Inform Law
Broadly speaking, duty inform laws fall into several formats: inform without being asked, inform if asked, no duty to inform, other and the gray area.
Each is rather self-explanatory, except for "other." The only states that qualify as "other" are the District of Columbia, Hawaii, New York and California. Washington D.C. and Hawaii are considered "other" because the concealed carry laws of both D.C. and the state of Hawaii are being contested in federal court at the time of this writing.
New York and California both have no law at the state level requiring disclosure if a person is armed. They do, however, on the county - in the case of California - and municipal level, in the case of New York. (At that, the law regarding a duty to inform is in Buffalo. One supposes officers tire of being informed that the Bills aren't winning a Super Bowl this year.) In California, a few counties have a duty to inform and others don't.
At present, only Georgia and Vermont don't require citizens inform officers in any way shape or form that they are armed if carrying concealed.
The gray area states have a duty to give an officer one's concealed carry permit, not to disclose if one is armed. If that comes up, the next question is going to be "are you armed?" and in that instance, it's certainly best to disclose. One might say that the law suggests an obligation quasi-exists but isn't explicitly defined. In that case, it's best to inform, cooperate and definitely err on the side of caution.
The Duty To Inform States
Presently, there are 12 explicit duty to inform states. In these states, you have to inform a police officer that you are carrying a firearm. You will also have to produce a concealed carry permit for the officer to verify that a person is legally carrying.
Those states are:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Note that of the above, only Maine is a constitutional carry state, though Oklahoma recognizes the right to carry without a permit of citizens from constitutional carry states. In other words, a person that resides in a constitutional carry state can carry sans permit in Oklahoma, provided they substantiate their residency with a valid ID card from that state.
That said, residents and non-residents alike in these states must disclose to an officer that they are carrying without being prompted. In simpler terms, "here is my license, registration, proof of insurance, officer. By the way, I have a concealed carry license and I am armed.
What To Do If Stopped While Concealed Carrying
Naturally, every person should research their state's laws about disclosure and know what the law says about informing if stopped while concealed carrying. Obviously, no one can be faulted for acting within the bounds and scope of the law, so if a person has no duty to inform...why inform if there's no duty to?
A good strategy is to disclose, then ask what the officer would like you to do from there. They will instruct you on what to do and everyone will go home happy. It may mean a longer traffic stop, but the cop in question will probably appreciate the candor.
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 and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.