Should You Tell the Cops You Have a Gun?


Joanna Andreasson

The fatal shooting of Philando Castile last year by a Minnesota police officer reinvigorated an old debate about how people who are licensed to carry a concealed weapon (CCW) should handle interactions with the cops. The officer, who was acquitted of manslaughter in June, panicked during a traffic stop after Castile, a CCW licensee, told him he was armed.

Some gun owners argue that disclosure is considerate and prudent, while others worry it will escalate a routine traffic stop into a tense, unpleasant, and possibly life-threatening encounter. But virtually everyone agrees it's important to know the relevant legal requirements, which vary from state to state.

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  1. As a potential firearm possessor there obviously needs to be convincing evidence that there is agreement between law enforcement and regular citizens as to what rules are in a given state.

    Furthermore there is an opportunity here for a app – mobile or internet – that enables citizens, based on their home location, to be notified of when rules change.

    As this would not require firearm possession it would be a ‘public service announcement’. I for one would, as potential availor of my federal 2nd Amendment right and multi-state traveller, would be interested to see the hazards I may be taking.

    1. P.S. 10% cut on sales would be acceptable 🙂

      1. I’m making over $12k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do,…Go this web and start your work… Good luck..

    2. Or alternatively, there should not be a state by state difference in how the federal constitution is applied.
      – – – shall not be infringed.

      The agreement is that any, ideally all, law abiding citizens are ‘keeping and bearing’ arms, and law enforcement is aware of that right and fact.

    3. the app your looking for exist its called CCW

  2. Should You Tell the Cops You Have a Gun?

    HAHAHAAA either way if you do – keep your hands on the fucking wheel and don’t let go for at least ONE FULL HOUR.

    1. Well you see office: This is my pistol, this is my gun, this one is for fighting, this one for fun. LOL

    2. ” Should You Tell the Cops You Have a Gun?

      Yeah, if you want to green light your own murder. Cop knows they don’t have to use their own throw away gun to cover their tracks. It’s called the Philando Effect.

  3. I thought they just shot black people – what possible reason to white people have to be nervous about being shot by cops?

    /sarc /sarc /sarc

    1. What if you’re a black person in convincing Hollywood white-person makeup? In the poor lighting of a late-night traffic stop, can a police office be truly certain?

      1. Impossible. At this point hollywood takes the racist point that no actor is able to portray another race, regardless of make up. In fact, applying makeup to indicate a different race is itself racist.
        Gender on the other hand – – – – – –

  4. Here in Maine, like it says on the chart, we are supposed to tell the cops if we are carrying. But only if you don’t have a permit. However the penalty for failure to disclose is only a $100 fine, while the penalty for telling a jumpy cop could be death. I’ve always got a pistol in the car, and there is no fucking way I’d ever tell a cop.

  5. I think the whole point of concealment is that the gun is a non-issue until and unless an emergency arises and you need it. Telling a cop you have a gun is like volunteering the information that you are willing and able to defend yourself with deadly force if necessary.

    If the cop isn’t threatening your life, you have no reason to draw your weapon, or to mention it.


    1. The traffic stop, by it’s very nature, IS, ultimately, a threat to your life, by an armed assailant, whose goal is to extort money out of you and/or to conduct a fishing expedition to find ANY reason to kidnap you and lock you in a cage.

      1. Exactly THIS ^

      2. and take your possessions.

      3. You don’t want to get stopped, fix that broken taillight!

        1. You mean that one that the police office just broke as he approached your car, AFTER he stopped you?

  6. Even if you know the law there’s no guarantee all the badges around you do too. One “reasonably” misinterpreted movement, one split-second failure to comply, one cop who’s “had enough” is all it takes to unleash the monopoly of violence.

    1. It’s damned if you do damned if you don’t. If you do disclose and they kill you, they say that the knowledge gave them reasonable fear for their safety. If you don’t and they shoot you, they later use the concealed weapon as evidence that they were justified in their actions.

      1. In case anyone has missed the news in the last decade; no matter what happens, you’re dead and it’s not the cops fault.

        1. But he will be punished, by being up on administrative leave, and receiving full pay!

          1. Or, if by some chance the cop is actually charged then it is quite likely the STUPID jury will let them off.

            If the people themselves are too stupid to hold the cops accountable there is simply no way to fix the problem.

          2. Or, if by some chance the cop is actually charged then it is quite likely the STUPID jury will let them off.

            If the people themselves are too stupid to hold the cops accountable there is simply no way to fix the problem.

  7. Ohio actually reversed a proposed bill because of that shooting.…..arry-guns/

  8. When Illinois was forced by the 7th Circuit to allow some form of carry, a fair number of black chicago democrats fought hard against including the ‘duty to inform’ requirement. Their very wise reasoning was that such a provision would prove highly dangerous to their constituents.

    Of couse the leadership of cook county, chicago pd, and chicago democrats who represented rich white lefty districts thought such a requirement absolutely had to be there.

  9. How about a ‘smart gun’ that tells police and other authorities about its presence over a wifi network. Humans telling humans about guns seems very 20th century thinking.

    And can anyone tell me why the distinction is made for concealed guns? Are the laws more liberal, or different for that matter, for guns carried about in plain sight?

    1. Because if the gun is in plain sight, you don’t have to tell them you’re armed, they can see that for themselves.

      1. But there are two types of gun license? One for concealed and one for non-concealed? Is it illegal to let a non-concealed gun become momentarily concealed? Like you have to tie your shoelaces or something and you put your piece into your pocket?

        1. “shall not be infringed.” Having to inform your government about your possessions or face a fine or jail time seems pretty infringey.

          1. I still don’t understand why the government concerns itself over whether or not others can see your gun or if it’s hidden from their sight.

        2. You would have to ask the people who created those two types of licenses.

          Where I live, there was only ever one – concealed carry – and that license was scrapped 7 years ago.

          And yes, in places where concealed carry is licensed, even momentary concealment – sometimes even partial concealment – is illegal.

        3. There is only one license; it is the second amendment to the United States Constitution.
          Sadly, it is ignored at the local, state, and federal level.
          Along with the first, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth.

      2. Hence why guns should be hung around the car like a GI Joe vehicle!

    2. How about a ‘smart holster’ that turns on a body cam when Barney Fife shits his pants and draws his weapon?

      During interactions between public servants and their citizen employers, who’s safety should be paramount?
      Who, in such situations, has the rights?

      1. A camera mounted on the gun itself that switches itself on when the gun is brandished, would be more revealing to those interested in learning the circumstances of gun incidents. If we can do these sort of things with cellular telephones, it shouldn’t be too hard to bring guns into the 21st century. I’m sure lots of consumers would see these modifications as beneficial (or more modern which is just as irresistible).

        “During interactions between public servants and their citizen employers, who’s safety should be paramount?”

        Kill one of each and find out for yourself.

    3. The problem with ‘smart guns’ of this type…or the ones that only work for the owner…or breathalyzer car interlocks or other such ‘soluions’ is that they add problematical technology to established technology. They should be fine…if they work. But the people selling the ideas seldom wait until they work.

      So, what happens when some poor slob who assumes that his ‘smart gun’ has told the nice officer that it’s there suddenly finds out that the nice officer is clueless? The officer probably assumes that he would be notified, so if the driver suddenly tells him, “Oh, by the way, you do know I have angun, don’t you.” he hpgets a nasty shock. And if themdriver doesn’t tell him, and he finds out by seeing the gun, well things go south from there.

      No. No smart guns.

      Maybe – and I know this is a long shot – we could start training officers that legally armed citizens aren’t out for their blood? That armed citizens are their best defense against lawless critters?

  10. I’m in a non-disclosure state.

    My firearms instructor taught us that if you say “I have a gun”, the cop is just going to fixate on the word “gun” and not here anything else you say. You should hand your carry permit over with the license, registration, and insurance and then wait for them to ask if you’re carrying.

    1. “You should hand your carry permit over with the license, registration, and insurance and then wait for them to ask if you’re carrying.”

      Keep the gun handy as you may need it to get the drop on a nervous or panicky cop.

  11. Every time I’ve been stopped, I’ve never been asked to get out of the car. I just take my ticket and go on my way. It seems to me that unless the law requires it, announcing you’re armed would needlessly escalate the situation. If the officer asks you to get out of the car, or some other circumstances arise where the weapon would be visible, then it would make sense for the officer to hear it from you before seeing it himself.

    1. If the cop can see you vehicle license plate, then wouldn’t he have access to a computer networked database telling him/her that the owner is also a licensed gun carrier?

      1. In MN (can’t speak on the law in other states), the Permit database is not connected to either the license plate or the driver’s license. There’s no way for an officer to know if you are carrying until after they have your driver’s license and either ask or are informed by dispatch. Or if you tell them, of course.

        I doubt any state connects permit info to the license plate though. The driver isn’t always the registered owner, or even related to him / her…

        1. Ohio connects the permit database to the license plate database.

          1. Yes, in Ohio, a cop is automatically told you are a permit holder when he calls in your plate. Of course, that doesn’t tell him if you’re carrying at that moment, but he will undoubtedly assume that you are.

          2. So does New Jersey.

      2. Unless you’re in one of several states that don’t license at all.

  12. Should You Tell the Cops You Have a Gun?

    You should probably use the phrase “I am armed”. But in my experience the cops ask you anyway and just tell you to keep your hands away from the compartment you say your weapon is in and to keep your hands visible.

  13. Why give them probable cause to murder you? It’s none of their business, keep it that way.

  14. What’s the protocol when an off-duty cop is pulled over? Or some other Officially Armed Plainclothes Government Bureaucrat? (E.g. a pistol-packing Department of Education agent?)

    Cops should treat armed (and unarmed) citizens the same way they treat a fellow cop in a traffic stop. And if any cop whines that this is “Inconceivable!” then that’s positive proof of the cop being corrupt and needing – at a minimum – to be fired for that corruption.

    1. “Cops should treat armed (and unarmed) citizens the same way they treat a fellow cop in a traffic stop.”

      That’s absolutely inconsistent with their ‘us vs. them’ mentality.
      They don’t consider non-cops equal, or even ‘people’, they’re “perps” and “suspects”.
      And that wouldn’t enhance the state’s revenue, now would it?

      But other than that, I’m sure they’d try it.

  15. Why would you ever tell them anything?

    Since it’s timeless:

  16. Any well-trained officer will tell you officer safety is paramount and if there’s ever any doubt as to your safety, the rule is to shoot first and ask questions later – better to be judged by twelve than carried by six as they say. Who am I to argue with trained law enforcement experts in this matter? I see a suspicious armed man coming at me, I’m plugging him. That’s how the cops do it all the time and none of them ever get into trouble over it so I’m sure they’ll understand a dead cop or two.

  17. Well I wonder if this will even show up. Tried 3 times in 3 days to post to articles. Nothing.

  18. I live in PA, which is an open carry state and next to NJ (which seems to think the 2nd Amendment is a bad dream) and Delaware (which shares the delusion). Based on stories I’ve read, PA needs to put up signs on the shared borders that say “Open Carry of firearms in legal in this State. Out of State law enforcement officers, please do not pester our citizens about their legally carried firearms; it annoys them, and makes you look like a jackass.”

  19. I would suggest that anybody who does have a concealed firearm in their car also carry either a dashcam and/or a bodycam, and have them running ANY time they do get pulled over by a cop. That way it won’t just be your word against the cop’s should somebody wind up getting shot.

    In fact come to think about it it would probably be wise for all Americans (but especially African-Americans) to carry bodycams around with them at all times. It’s a shame to say this but you can never be too careful in the Land of the Free.

    1. After shooting you and your dog, these ‘hero’s will be plenty busy planting guns/ drugs and getting home safely at the end of their shift! (Because thats the, “ONLY thing that matters!”??
      And you want them to have to concern themselves with having to destroying evidence that will contradict their official ‘story’!?
      Their job is hard enough!
      I don’t think you, “back the blue”??

  20. From the example given, I’d have to say “no.” This black man was given no chance and just shot dead, while his wife and child looked on. The cop getting off Scott free just confirms the notion that you never tell a cop you are armed. It gives them license to shoot you dead no matter what you do from there.

    Theoretically, the second Ammendment gives you right to bear arms, but when you encounter a twitchy cop with a gun, you shouldn’t assume you have any rights at all. Rights don’t do a dead man any good whatsoever!

    1. Common saying among hippie types: “the cop has a gun and a license to kill. Do everything the nice cop says”.

      I’m more perturbed that there isn’t a call from police on how to better engage potentially armed members of the public, but I guess that keeping the public safe is just too bizarre a concern in these circumstances.

      So exact how should you respond to potentially a person who has a hair-trigger and armed, and immunity from the law?

      A question for the ages to be sure.

  21. If I’ve got a gun in the glovebox with my registration and other papers, I would tell the cop I’ve got a gun; no matter what the law requires. I would not want him to see my gun when I reach for my registration and have him pull his gun on me.

    If the cop searches my vehicle I would tell him I’ve got a gun. I would not want him to be surprised to find it and then get jumpy about what other weapons I may have on me.

    I think if you drive on a military base and the MPs pull you over, you’ve got to tell them you’re carrying. I’m not sure about that but this is what I’ve been advised by the MPs.

    1. If I’ve got a gun in the glovebox with my registration and other papers…

      Suggestion: Put one of them somewhere else. My insurance card is over the driver’s visor and my DL in my wallet. (We don’t carry any other papers.) Never keep them together.

      AFAIK the rule is don’t take a gun onto a military base unless you’re assigned there and it’s registered and you understand the base COs rules. State gun laws are irrelevant on federal military bases.

      Don’t consent to a search of your vehicle.

    2. If you get a gun past the MPs at the gate, you are a commie spy!
      Back when this was a free country, I used to take my rifle onto a military base to use the range with a friend who was a military dependent. (We were both high school students at at the time).
      At times, the base would be ‘secured’, which during the unpleasantness in south east Asia meant I had to actually stop at the gate and tell the MP I had the rifle, and show my driver’s license.
      Since we learned that terrorists will not respect our border, no one can get onto a base without a search, a good reason for going on that base, and a few phone calls to an officer. As we learned from Ft. Hood, not even soldiers are trusted with guns on a military base.

  22. Totality of circs, blah, blah
    Fugitive movments blah, blah
    Fear of my life, something something.

    Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam!
    Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam! Blam!
    *Calls union rep*
    *Paid vacay*
    *”Investigation” rubber stamped*
    *hangs medal in wall*
    *enjoys fat pension*

    1. You forgot the “*gets drunk and drives home hammered to beat the wife*” part.

  23. It’s time to develop an R2D2 type of robot that could interact with the public so that the policeman does not have to shoot the investigatee because of his cowardice.

  24. No no no, and hell no.

  25. In texas I tell the cop whether I am carrying and then we discuss guns and then I get a warning.

    Knock on wood.

  26. The actual rule in Texas is:
    1. If you have a license to carry and are carrying, when a LEO or magistrate asks for ID you shall display your driver’s license and LTC. If you aren’t carrying you aren’t required to display your LTC, but it’s recommended since your DL will tell him you have one.
    2. If you don’t have an LTC, but you are legally carrying in your motor vehicle or watercraft, there is no requirement to inform the officer you have the gun.

  27. Keep your gun in your glove compartment along with your lawyer.

  28. The few times I’ve been pulled over, I just handed my permit to them with my license and they asked where it was. That was it.

    If I was a passenger, I wouldn’t volunteer it unless directly asked, either for ID or whether I was armed.

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