First Thing Is To Know Your Duty To Inform States
If state or local law imposes a duty to inform, you are required to disclose the presence of your firearm upon making contact with law enforcement. There are 12 states, along with the District of Columbia, that require you to inform immediately upon contact with law enforcement. There are also an additional 12 states with laws that stipulate you must notify only when asked by law enforcement. Some states have no duty to inform laws at all.
*Maine — Yes, if carrying without a permit. No, if you are concealed carrying with a permit.
*North Dakota — Yes, if a North Dakota resident constitutionally carrying without a permit. No, with a concealed carry permit.
*Ohio — When SB 215 goes into effect beginning on June 12, 2022, you will no longer be required to inform a law enforcement officer that you’re carrying unless he or she asks.
TIPS AFTER GETTING PULLED OVER WHILE CARRYING
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 permit 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.
WHAT TO TELL THE POLICE OFFICER
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, an 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.
DON’T MAKE JOKES
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.