Should You Tell An Officer You Are Armed?

Maintaining a gun blog brings in a lot of questions. I get emails and tweets from readers (mostly women) who have come across my articles/posts and have questions either about my views or about what they should do to get a gun. One of the questions I have been seeing recently is whether or not I would advise people to tell a cop that they have a gun in the car when they get pulled over. Honestly, I have thought long and hard about this and the best answer I can give is that it depends on the situation. In the end, you are the one who can and should make the decision. Sometimes officers appreciate that you are honest about having a weapon, while sadly others use it to further abuse power. 

I came across an article on Fox News. A mother who had recently purchased a .380 handgun for defense and received her concealed carry permit was arrested on October 1. Now she is hoping that the jury will take her side, otherwise she will spend 3 years in prison for unlawful possession of a weapon.

She has had no prior criminal record and told the cop that she had a gun in the vehicle as soon as she was pulled over. She also had her concealed carry permit with her and gave that to the officer as well. Even though she felt she was doing the right thing, she was denied acceptance into a diversionary program and sent to prison.

This is something I am usually very concerned about. Living so close to DC and Maryland, there are plenty of areas where I could mistakingly take the wrong exit coming home from the range and end up in an area where guns are not allowed.  I’ve imagined this very situation numerous times and wondered what I would do. Honestly, I don’t know if I would tell them or not. When I travel, I have my gun locked, separated from ammo, and in my trunk where I can’t get to it. Without probable cause, they have no right to look through my vehicle at any given point. Then I think “well, the whole reason I have a gun is to protect myself. What if someone attacks me when I’m in my car? My gun won’t help me much being locked away.” It’s very tricky and very intimidating. The best thing I can say is to learn, study, eat, sleep, and breathe the local and state laws. Know them better than you know the back of your hand. Analyze the situation and do what you think is best. It could have been that this woman got nervous and said “I have a gun!”. I don’t know, but I know it’s possible.

If you decide to tell the officer that you are armed, I would advise saying the following:

Officer, I want to let you know that I have a concealed carry permit in this state and am currently have one on my person. How would you like me to proceed?

At the end of the day, cops are human too. They just want to get back to their family and be safe. 

Have you ever been in a situation where you were pulled over with a gun in the car?


4 thoughts on “Should You Tell An Officer You Are Armed?

  1. I came close to shooting an ATF agent one night. He blew a steady red light and I stopped him. I walk up and he shouts, “What did I do?”. His hands were low on the steering wheel. I had my Mag-Lite (4D) and put some light inside the car. On the back seat, was a shotgun and a bright nickel Model-1911. Then I shine the light onto his hands and saw an image of a handgun under his thigh. I told him to get his hands up and exit the car. He leaned forward. I put the Mag-Lite under his chin on the throat and the service revolver was point blank at his head and I said, “Don’t do it”. Then he starts shouting “Are you fu**in’ nuts?! I’m a federal agent!”. From there, all was squared away. He was also On Duty and transporting weapons with paperwork.
    If I get stopped, and I do get stopped from time to time, I follow exactly what the Job’s training is. Windows down (power windows). Interior light on. Key removed from the ignition and placed either on the dashboard or if at night, on top of the roof. Both hands on the 12 o’clock position of the steering wheel, palms facing me, and thumbs pointing to the sky, fingers spread apart widely. DON’T MOVE. Remain in that position and ask for permission to move only after you notify the officer that you are armed, or a weapon is present in the vehicle. If your State or Municipality issues a permit, tell the officer where the permit is. Left rear pants pocket. Right front pants pocket. Left shirt pocket. In a pocketbook. Let the cop make a determination that you are safe and not a threat to him. Can things become unpleasant? Yes. But it is much better than being an item on the news, “Motorist Shot and Killed by Police”. I was even stopped going to work, only blocks away from work. Patrol car lunges out with a yellow light and right behind me, the lights and siren. I see some little boy in a cop costume, but it’s not Halloween. I instinctively notice rookie leather and it even squeaks. He demands my license. I said “WHAT?!!!”. He finds out that I am a sergeant and wants to know where I work. “Right here, kid. Right here. You are in my command”. New rookies were turned loose a day before during my regular day off. I only growled at him once a few days later at Roll Call.
    Let the cop know that you are armed. Some states do not require it, but remember, you are rolling the dice with your life.

  2. Although I’ve never had a concealed carry permit, yes I’ve been pulled over while carrying a gun in my car, but it wasn’t unloaded and in my trunk. It was loaded with a round chambered, and on the seat beside me. Both times, I rolled down my window before the officer got to my car and told him there was a pistol on the seat. Both times, they asked me to take hold of the barrel of the gun and hand it to them butt first, then they took it to their car and came back to talk about why they pulled me over. But in both cases, they gave back my pistol, unloaded, along with my bullets before letting me go.

    If you’re carrying something in the trunk, I don’t see the point of mentioning it. Actually, if you’ve got a gun on the seat, it’s probably not necessary either, because they’ll see it – just make sure your hands are away from it, say, on the steering wheel. They’ll direct you what to do.

    About a concealed weapon, though. One of the best suggestions I’ve heard is that when you show them your driver’s license, also include your carry permit, and mention that you’re carrying your weapon, then wait for them to tell you how to proceed. Lots of police officers seem to agree with this, but perhaps some don’t, so the best advice of all is probably what you said at the end of your article. Just let them know in an unthreatening way, and ask their directions on what to do.


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