Should You Notify Police That You’re Carrying Concealed?

Lately, there has been a good deal of discussion about whether or not you should notify a police officer you are carrying a concealed handgun.

By Sheriff Jim Wilson (RSS)
January 30, 2012

Most states require you to produce your concealed-carry license any time an officer asks for your driver’s license or other ID. In other states, the law is vague or, as in the case of Ohio, where pending legislation would eliminate notification requirements.

If we believe some of the tales we hear from concealed-carry license holders—and I do—some real problems can arise when the citizen makes notification. Let’s face it; there are police officers who don’t think the public has a right to carry guns for any reason, at any time. And there have been believable stories of over-zealous policemen harassing licensed citizens. A Texas highway patrolman recently told a friend of mine that, if he smelled alcohol on his breath, he would jerk the friend’s license and firearm. This in spite of the fact that Texas prohibits a licensee from being intoxicated, as opposed to having had one drink.

In spite of the few problems that have arisen with anti-gun policemen, I strongly suggest you show your license any time you are carrying and are contacted by the police. To do otherwise means bad things could happen if the officer should suddenly discover you are carrying. At the least, you can expect to have to kiss the gravel and be handcuffed. It is simply not smart to surprise a person who wears a badge and a gun. Even when you’re out at a public gathering—where it is legal to carry and there is an obvious police presence—it’s a good idea to go over to the nearest policeman and identify yourself by showing your license.

And, should you be treated unfairly by an obviously anti-gun policeman, you will do us all a favor if you go to the head of his department and file an official complaint. Personally, I believe these cases of harassment by anti-gun cops are rare, but I’m sure they do exist. However, if you will be open and honest with police officers, the vast majority will treat you with the same courtesy. It may not get you out of a ticket, but it might help avoid a ride in the police car.

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12 Responses to Should You Notify Police That You’re Carrying Concealed?

  1. yakker says:

    One item that was not mentioned is that if you are involved in a traffic stop, your CCP will show up when the officer calls it in. It is ALWAYS best to keep BOTH hands on the top of the steering wheel, notify the officer that you have a permit and whether or not you are presently carrying. Stay away from the use of the word gun (ie; “I have a gun on me.”). Th police and sheriff’s deputies will key in real quick on the word gun in a lot of cases and it may not be a pleasant conversation due to their reaction…… and if you think about it I don’t blame them.

  2. Ray H says:

    yes yakker, plus some police are trained to shoot when the word “gun” is said.

  3. Tom H says:

    In Texas, we’re required to identify ourselves as CHL holders. I haven’t had a problem in the 3-4 cases where I was required to ID myself. I have identified myself in a few other cases (actually helping police in several “situations”) and again there was no problem. Of course, this is Texas and I expect a vastly different response in a more urban, Democrat state.

  4. Esther Irwin says:

    I’ve never had to deal with an officer at a traffic stop, but I have spoken with several at various events and not a single one has given me any grief for carrying. In fact, they’ve all be supportive and pleased.

  5. Tom T says:


    In some states you are correct about your DL being flagged if you have a carry permit. However, that is not true in all states. Here in Iowa, for example, DL’s are not flagged.

    A couple of years ago I had the misfortune to be driving down a dark blacktop one cold January night, when an obviously suicidal deer jumped in front of my car. When the deputy arrived, I handed him my carry permit, along with my DL, registration and insurance card. He looked at the carry permit, then asked, “Are you carrying a gun?” I replied, “Yes sir, I am.” He then asked if I was off-duty law enforcement. When I said no, but that I was RETIRED law enforcement, he asked, “If you’re not off-duty law enforcement, why are you carrying a gun?” I resisted the inital urge to say, “I don’t know, Barney Fife, why are YOU carrying a gun?”, and instead replied, “I’ve discovered, that as I have aged, I no longer have the upper body strength that would be necessary to carry a cop.” He laughed and replied, “Sir, you are more intelligent than 98% of the people I deal with every day. Go have a seat in your car, where it’s warm.” No more was said about the gun at all. Apparently he realized, as I did when I was wearing the badge, that the ones who let you know they’re carrying ain’t the ones you need to worry about.

  6. Josh says:

    I am not sure how I feel about alerting a police officer prior to being asked for ID. I definitely respect your opinion with regard to your experience, but I think the tact with witch you alert an officer is most important and this tact is not to just flash your CHL to the first officer you see. I live in a the largest city in Texas and CC everywhere I legally can. Like most CHL holders I hold our police in great regard. I might, or might not, speed a lot and as a result I have offered both my CHL and CDL to a number of police officers with a variety of welcomed and unwelcomed responses. I have even had the pleasure of dealing with the Coast Guard while on the water piloting a personal watercraft while fishing post the Sept. 2011 change in the law. In that case, SWAT equipped officers tied onto us and proceeded to perform a safety inspection. One by one we were asked for ID. I was the last one to be asked for ID but I had both my ID and CHL in hand. When the coast guard officer read my CHL he immediately became defensive accusing me of hiding a gun from him. I respectfully referred to the law as written and reminded him that he never asked if we had weapons on board. This became less of an issue as the inspection continued but it was evident that he was immediately uncomfortable realizing he had skipped a vital question in the beginning of the inspection. Looking back at that situation and seeking to learn from it, I do not feel that the best time to declare the legal possession of a firearm is upon the initial face to face meeting with SWAT equipped officers; understandably I fear that may cause the officers to jump to wrong conclusions.

    I understand why an officer would want to know who has a weapon, however the point of Concealed Carry is to not know. If officers would like to know everyone who has a gun legally let us pass open carry legislation. Then only the criminals will not alert the police to their firearms. Otherwise let the police ID everyone in public and then by default they will find out who legally CCs a weapon and not make the CHL holder stand out and risk losing the element of surprise if they need to defend themselves.

  7. Carson Wilcox says:

    There is no requirement in Florida to d
    notify an office that your have a CCW or are carrying. It might be a good idea to do so if your have a gun in the glove compartment and Jeff to reach in there for your registration.

  8. Jack says:

    CPL holder in MI. The day after I received my CPL, I went out and celebrated it by purchasing a new handgun, enjoying the no longer needed 5 day waiting period. I was carrying it on my on the way home. As luck has it, I got stopped going 12 mph over. My wallet was already out, so I removed my license and CPL, had them in my hand, placed both hands on the wheel and waited for the cop. She came up, I rolled down the window, said hi, handed her them both, waited a sec for her to see the card, then told her that I do have a pistol on my right side in a IWB holster. She said ok, took my info and went back to her car. Came back, and told me that she was giving me a warning, that I was the only warning she had given of her 20 or so stops that night, and that it is excellent that both I and my wife carry. That last part surprised me that my wife showed up when she ran me, but whatever. I thanked her, and went on my way. Biggest thing is to be calm, be unthreatening and forthcoming. Oh, and when the cop comes up to you, don’t just say “I have a gun.” That won’t end well. ;)

  9. jl says:

    Tx CHL has zero alcohol tolerance. Simply stated – don’t carry if you drink ANY.

  10. Matt Nolan says:

    Can some tell me if Idaho is state that requiresyou to notify the police when you are pulled over that you are carrying?I cant see anywhere on idaho gun laws that it even mentions this?

    • Dispatcher says:

      In Idaho your CWP shows up when your license is run through dispatch so the officer already knows in most cases.

  11. Doug R. says:

    In Conservative States and most other States, the Police are not the enemy of law-abiding citizens. Many shootings of Police happen during routine traffic stops. Therefore, as a courtesy to the Officer, during a traffic stop, if I am carrying, I would notify regardless of the requirement, calmly, casually, and clearly for the safety of the Officer, not in a threatening manner. The Police are not who we should be concerned with concealing a weapon, As a side-benefit, I believe the chances of not receiving a ticket increases. That said, if I am carrying in foreign States, under my Utah, Arizona, or Florida CCW, I obey the traffic laws to the letter, set my cruise control to exactly the speed limit, and eliminate the problem entirely. I have traveled in all 48 Continental States and have never been stopped. This also eliminates the hassle of dealing with a ticket in a foreign State.

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