Most people are pulled over by a police officer at some point in their lives. However, as a concealed carry permit holder, you have a legal responsibility to inform the officer you have a weapon in the car in Duty to Inform states.
All people who have concealed carry permits need to be aware of the duty to inform laws for their state. States with duty to inform laws include Alaska, Arkansas, California (some counties), Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. These states require you to inform the police officer that you are carrying a firearm and to produce your concealed carry permit without being asked to do so.
Most other states, except Georgia and Maine, require you to produce a permit and verbally indicate that you are carrying a firearm if you are explicitly asked by the police officer.
Check the concealed carry and duty to inform laws for your state and local jurisdiction if you plan to carry a firearm.
If you are stopped by a police officer, inform them that you are carrying a concealed firearm, even if you are not in a duty to inform state. There are steps you can take to ensure that your encounter with law enforcement as a concealed carry license holder is positive.
The better the police officer can see you inside your vehicle, the less anxious they will feel once you have told them that you are carrying a firearm. If you are stopped at night, switch on your overhead light and keep it on until your interaction is over.
If you are being pulled over, look for a gas station, shopping plaza, or another well-lit location. This can help the officer to see you and the inside of your car better.
Unless you are reaching for your ID, registration, and concealed carry permit (which you should have stored in your car if you plan to carry while driving), keep your hands on the wheel while the police officer approaches the vehicle.
Only take your hands off the wheel after you have been instructed to do so by the officer. Use slow, smooth movements to reach for your registration, permit, and ID. Do not use sudden, jerking movements that might alert the officer that you are a threat.
Getting pulled over can be a stressful experience for many people. To overcome any nervousness you may feel, try rehearsing what you might say to a police officer. Practice your tone, as well. Sometimes, it’s not so much what you say to a law enforcement officer, but how you say it that can deescalate a situation.
You don’t need to tell the police officer every single detail about yourself and your weapon. All they need to know are a few pieces of vital information expressed in a calm and matter-of-fact tone.
As soon as the police officer reaches your rolled-down window, begin by saying: “Officer, I am carrying a concealed firearm. It is located (mention the spot where you keep it). I have a permit for it.” Your firearm should be kept in a place you can easily reach it, such as in your IWB holster, inside your glove box, or inside a locked gun case as required by some states.
Follow by asking permission to remove your hands from the wheel of your car to produce your permit: “My concealed carry permit is in my wallet/glove box, etc. May I please retrieve it?” Wait for their answer before moving.
After this exchange, it is up to the police officer what happens next. They may want you to exit the vehicle so they can secure the firearm, or they may leave it at that with the condition that you do not produce the firearm.
When speaking to a police officer, it is never a good idea to make jokes or be sarcastic. They may take it as a sign of disrespect or misunderstand you, leading to a confrontation. When informing a police officer of your firearm, always use polite, straight-forward terms. Even if you believe you’ve been pulled over in error, do not escalate the situation. You can always argue your case with proper evidence in traffic court later.
Whether or not you are legally required to inform the police officer of your concealed firearm, it is always a good idea to do so. If your firearm is found during your encounter with law enforcement and you haven’t informed them, the police officer may take defensive action to remove the firearm, and someone may be harmed in the process. Taking proper steps to inform an officer of your concealed firearm can keep everyone safe.
For more information about safe concealed carry or to find out about the holster and accessories we have available, call Concealment Express at (888) 904-2722.
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