Officer, I am Legally Armed
Interactions with Law Enforcement while Concealing A Firearm
As a licensed conceal carry holder deciding to take your loaded firearm out into public, you may have the occasion to run into a police officer in his official duty. Knowing what to do before you have the interaction will not only make this process easier, but could keep you out of serious trouble… most specifically, a needless deadly encounter.
Duty to Inform States
Currently, twelve states have laws that dictate your interactions with police officers. These laws are called Duty to Inform laws. Duty to inform laws require an armed conceal carry holder to inform law enforcement officers when they first begin a interaction with the officer in an official capacity. After informing the officer, the conceal carry holder must show their conceal permit or license to the officer and allow the officer to disarm you if they wish to do so. This is a broad overview of what is required for certain duty to inform states. Each conceal carry holder has the responsibility to know not only your state’s law but also states you travel through while armed and concealed.
States without Duty to Inform Laws
For the thirty eight states where the legislature has not dictated duty to inform, here are a few things to keep in mind when a conceal carry citizen has an interaction with a law enforcement officer in their official capacity.
“What is common sense isn't common practice.” - Stephen Covey
Running up to an officer’s table while they are eating and telling them that you are armed is probably not the best decision. On the other hand, if the officer asks you to get out of your car during a traffic stop, it would be wise to notify the officer that you are a conceal carry permit holder before you get out of the vehicle.
Mind your P’s and Q’s
Following established laws will keep you out of most interactions with law enforcement. Speeding, road rage, drinking and driving, and fighting are just a few things to avoid when deciding to leave the house with a concealed firearm.
“Politeness [is] a sign of dignity, not subservience.” - Theodore Roosevelt
Being polite and compliant to an officer’s directives will greatly improve the outcome of the interaction. Choosing to be compliant and having a good attitude may not get you out of the trouble you are in, but will show the officer that you are not choosing to escalate the situation.
When traveling with your concealed firearm, plan ahead and research the laws of the states that you are traveling through. Obviously, reciprocity (agreement between states that accept each others concealed permits/license) is the most important thing to know when traveling. Duty to inform laws are important to find out as well.
Carrying a concealed firearm is an active process. Continuing training at the range is important; however; knowledge of current laws is a critical requirement of conceal carry.