Question of the Day: Should You Have to Tell The Cops You Have A Gun?

“Honestly, I don’t know what has gotten into the head of Rep. Maag,” Carl Weitz III, 22 of Westwood, told news.cincinnati.com. “Guns are legal and they are part of our Constitution. I understand this point of view. For anyone to declare that citizens shouldn’t need to inform law enforcers that they are carrying a concealed weapon is absolutely ridiculous. Bills like these weaken my faith in humanity.” Explaining the need for the legislation “Maag cited a June 2011 traffic stop in Canton where [former police officer Daniel Harless, above] verbally threatened and arrested a permit holder, because he hadn’t notified the officer fast enough about the presence of a gun.” Well, it can’t be “don’t ask, don’t tell.” But should it be “don’t tell unless asked”?

comments

  1. avatar Todd Price says:

    Hmm…I can think of about 100 other things that should shake Mr. Weitz’s faith in Humanity. This is not one of them.

    Oh, and tell if asked. Coming from a citizen where immediate disclosure is the law of the land.

  2. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

    Here in Minnesota, you are required to answer truthfully if an officer asks if you are carrying. I suppose “don’t tell unless asked” works for me.

  3. avatar caffeinated says:

    I like inform officers since I would like the courtesy if conducting a traffic stop or making contact with someone. I’ve had various people inform me and what that indicates to me is that person is most likely a law abiding citizen. I just tell them “Don’t reach for yours and I won’t reach for mine.”

    1. avatar DrewR55 says:

      Agreed. Common Curtesy goes a long way.

    2. avatar HSR47 says:

      It depends on the situation.

      In Philly when the cop who pulled you over is being a sanctimonious asshole, and is insisting that he knows the law (which he doesn’t), then it’s wise not to add more powder kegs to the pyre.

      On the other hand, if you’re on your way out to Harrisburg for a pro-second amendment rally, carrying OWB without a cover garment, and you get pulled over by the PCP, who approaches on the passenger side of the vehicle and acts in a courteous and professional manner, then informing is potentially appropriate.

    3. avatar MadDawg J says:

      Having been raised by cops, I have actually become friends with some over guns after a traffic stop. I keep a copy of my id (usually my motorcycle license), insurance and registration in the visor. When pulled over (not going to lie, I always drive like I stole it) I shut the car off (not going to run) put the keys on the dash and turn on the interior light (nothing to hide) and wait with my hands in the wheel. When they get to the window and ask for them I let them know they are in the visor so I do not have to reach towards the glovebox/center consol/strong side (where ever the gun is currently) and wait for them to acknowledge before moving my hands from the wheel. At that point they almost always ask if I’m a cop. Some never bring up the gun again, some just ask what I have. Other than when I have something cool, Desert Eagle/Kimber/1858 New Army Conversion, they never ask to see it.

      Actually the only thing that DE was good for, other than scaring the guy next to you at the range, was instead of getting a ticket getting a new cop friend. They always want to see and play with the Eagle.

  4. avatar Yeah, that guy... says:

    Personally, I think that it’s a violation of your constitutional rights against self-incrimination. Even if you’re not breaking the law, you should be allowed to remain silent or simply decline to answer any question posed. Creating a law that says that you SHALL cooperate in your own prosecution is DANGEROUS. “Are you carrying a gun” doesn’t sound like that bad of a question but what if the question was, “have you ever broken any law”?

    1. avatar Mike OFWG says:

      Answer, “I don’t remember”.

      1. avatar MadDawg J says:

        “yo no hablo”

  5. avatar Lawrence T says:

    Seems like common sense–I sure don’t want a police officer noticing my firearm and freaking out. Given everything I’ve seen of human beings, whether gun owners or not, I have absolutely no cause to believe that the great majority of them will act with common sense. Requiring notification therefore doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Heck, if I were writing the law, failure to inform during a traffic stop or Terry stop would be cause for permit revocation thereby getting guns off of the waistbands of those who don’t have the sense to carry them safely in the first place.

    1. avatar Yeah, that guy... says:

      Sure, we should be able to revoke lots of “rights” for someone NOT doing something. This is the shame of our country. We have taken the criminal intent out of the criminal code and MADE criminals of law abiding citizens.

    2. avatar caffeinated says:

      Although I’ve always appreciated people informing me they were armed upon contact, I would never want it to be a requirement by legislation.

  6. avatar Charles says:

    In South Carolina we are required to produce our permits and inform the officer if we are carrying. I don’t have a problem with this. I would rather volunteer the information and diffuse a potentially touchy situation than be taken for a criminal. Cops deal with some pretty rough and aggressive characters, so I can understand why they might overreact to finding a gun on someone.

    Voluntarily informing the officer clearly distinguishes the law-abiding from the criminal. As (ex con) Martha says, that’s a good thing.

    1. avatar Yeah, that guy... says:

      I agree, “voluntarily” informing the officer that you are asserting your rights is your prerogative and I do so myself, but it is wrong to try to legislate to the lowest common denominator in an attempt to restrain someone with criminal intent. So what if you are carrying a gun? Being a cop is a dangerous job but it is also a voluntary one and we should not be creating laws that criminalize “non-criminal” behavior out of an “abundance of caution” to further protect them. Do you really think that a law to inform makes officers safer from people that don’t want to shoot them in the first place… or is it that you think it makes the person gunning for a cop think twice? What you are creating is a law that punishes law abiding citizens for asserting the same right that criminals have… the right to remain silent… doing nothing should not be a crime? If you pull out your gun and shoot someone, that’s illegal already. We have to be very careful about legislating to the lowest common denominator and, to me, this law violates your basic fifth and second amendment protections.

      1. avatar MadDawg J says:

        “Do you really think that a law to inform makes officers safer from people that don’t want to shoot them in the first place”

        No, but it let’s the cop know I’m not one of the people who wants to shot them. Traffic stops are the scariest and most dangerous part of a cop’s job. They have no idea if you are some crazy lowlife armed and waiting to shot them, or an upstanding citizen. Personally, I know and understand what they are feeling at that moment so I go out of my way to make them comfortable. If you don’t want to do it out of respect for the men and women putting thier lives on the line for you, then do it for the fact that they will feel more comfortable with you, have a bond with you (they too are armed and know guns) and as such are more likely to let you go with a warning.

        “What you are creating is a law that punishes law abiding citizens…”
        How so? Is having to saying “so you know officer I am carrying a CCW” a punishment? I wouldn’t even call that an inconvenience.

  7. avatar Frank says:

    Are we forgetting about the right to remain silent? Where did that go? I’m pretty sure that applies before and after your arrested

  8. avatar Ralph says:

    In MA, disclosure is not required. I would advise a MA LTC holder NOT to disclose voluntarily.

    Cops in MA do not ask, except in connection with a Terry stop. If I was asked in connection with, say, a traffic stop, I would first hand the officer my LTC and disclose where I was carrying. I understand my rights and that I don’t have to tell the officer jack, but I’d do it anyway. YMMV.

    Were I asked the question in connection with a Terry stop, I would STFU and tell the cops that I have no intention of answering any of their questions. Once again, YMMV.

  9. avatar Sean C says:

    No. They assume everyone they come into contact with is armed and possibly dangerous in some way anyway.

    If you’re a criminal, it violates your 5th amendment rights.

    If you’re NOT a criminal, it violates your 4th amendment rights as it puts the citizen in a pickle.

    If the citizen answers honestly, the citizen just performed a search FOR the officer which gets into 5A issues.

    If the citizen answers dishonestly, the citizen just lied to an officer of the law.

    By placing the citizen in such a position, there is (undue?) influence placed upon the citizen to assist the officer in violating their rights against their will under duress.

  10. avatar RightYouAreKen says:

    I appreciate that law in WA says that I must present my CCW “upon demand by a police officer…” covering me from the type of thing that occured in the video where the officer didn’t think he fessed up quickly enough. But, if I were pulled over, I would present my drivers licence and CCW at that time, to get things out in the open. I don’t want him to become surprised later in the encounter if he were to discover the fact. I think that just increases the odds of unfortunate things occuring.

  11. avatar Chris says:

    I usually hand over my permit with my drivers licence. The one time it came up the officer looked at the permit, and said, “I’m not interested in that,” and handed it back.

    That being said, what we really need is a law that requires all criminals who are illegally carrying guns, who intend to shoot cops, to clearly announce their intentions before the officer walks up to the car. Maybe require them to have a bumper sticker, that should make officers much safer…

    Or maybe we should realize that laws are not magic spells.

    1. avatar Accur81 says:

      Well said, sir.

    2. avatar GS650G says:

      I’ve done the same thing and gotten the same “don’t care. don’t give a shit” response from Mr. Lawman. I don’t understand such attitudes.

    3. avatar Tom says:

      Or maybe we should realize that laws are not magic spells.

      Agree.

  12. avatar Leo Atrox says:

    Well, it can’t be “don’t ask, don’t tell.” But should it be “don’t tell unless asked”?

    My short answer is “yes.” My real answer is “it depends.” If it is written in the law that you have a right to verify the officer’s credentials before answering, then I’m all in favor of it.

    I will volunteer the information 99% of the time (when a firearm is anywhere in my vehicle, because I’m not permitted to carry one ) but it depends on the circumstance. I’ve never been approached by a non-uniformed officer outside of a social setting, nor have I ever been supsicious of a uniformed one; but if I were, I would want the right to verify that he is who he says he is before I go telling him that I’ve got a firearm (or any other information).

  13. avatar Henry Bowman says:

    “Duty to inform” laws are just another gun control measure that criminalizes benign behavior in an attempt to exercise control over the subjugated. Why is this even a topic of discussion amongst supposed gun-rights guys? We don’t need to ask permission from the state nor do we have to tell them jack squat about how we choose to peacably go about our business or exercise our rights.

    1. avatar MadDawg J says:

      “criminalizes benign behavior”

      I call bullshit. Plain and simple, bullshit.

  14. avatar Silver says:

    In PA, we are not required to inform the police that we are carrying, and I haven’t the two times I was pulled over since getting a LTCF. It’s none of their business. Why should we have to notify of something that’s a Constitutional right when the reason we’re being stopped has nothing to do with it? Should I produce my birth certificate as well to prove I’m an American? Why inform that I’m carrying as if it’s something I’m “guilty” of doing?

    And with the reaction some police will give, it’s downright dangerous to inform them sometimes. Besides that, if you’re stopped by an anti-2A officer and you inform him you’re carrying, he’ll be prejudiced toward you and levy every penalty he can.

    That’s not to say common sense shouldn’t be used (the real kind, not the gun-grabber kind). If for some reason he tells me to get out of the car, then I’ll inform him since there will be greater tension and he’ll likely see it on my hip anyway.

  15. avatar HAVE GUN says:

    In Kansas, I am not required to inform unless asked.

    Since I got my CCHL I been anxious to show it off to somebody.

  16. avatar bontai Joe says:

    Thank you guys, I now know what a Terry Stop is and how it came to be. Always a good day when I can learn something new.

  17. avatar Levi B says:

    Some states require that you tell a police officer immediately on a Terry stop and similar laws. Here in PA there is no duty to inform.

    I think as long as you are respectful and truthful in your interactions with police as a law abiding citizen, the police should be respectful towards you. This has been my personal experience.

    1. avatar Levi B says:

      Oh, if an officer was about to pat me down I’d tell him calmly and immediately that I had a gun and then pay very close attention to the next series of questions and instructions.

  18. avatar Tim McNabb says:

    A “Terry Stop” occurs when you agree to speak with a police officer, and he frisks you for weapons for his or her own safety.

    I used it a number of times as a rent-a-cop to bust shoplifters, because anything found in a Terry search is admissible as evidence.

    This procedure is based on the supreme court decision in the 1960s called “Terry v State of Ohio”

    1. avatar Totenglocke says:

      The question is, what happens when you refuse to let the officer search you (which would be violating the 4th amendment if you’re not being detained as a suspect)?

  19. avatar GS650G says:

    I’ve only been Terry Stopped once and I wasn’t carrying at the time. It wasn’t as sexually stimulating as a TSA frisk but still got a rise out of the bugger.

  20. avatar Totenglocke says:

    As someone who lives in Cincinnati, OH, I hope this passes. Honestly, the duty to inform is the main reason I haven’t gotten my CCW yet. Too many cops go into full roid rage once they find out you have a (legal) gun and forcing people to tell the officers that they are doing something legal but the officer personally doesn’t approve of puts citizens in danger – just like with Officer Harless in Canton, OH a few months back.

    I won’t lie, I also take issue with the need for fingerprinting for a CCW. Unless you are suspected of a crime, there is no need for your fingerprints to ever be taken because then it’s just one more tool for the government to use against you.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention because I’ve yet to hear about it on the local news / newspaper. I’ll be sure to email Maag and let him know I support him 100%.

    1. avatar MadDawg J says:

      “I won’t lie, I also take issue with the need for fingerprinting for a CCW. ”

      I used to have a major issue with that too, but having an FFL a full set of prints is on file anyways, and the DOD has my DNA on file. Unfortunately I have been Big Brother-ed enough that it became a moot point for me.

      “Too many cops go into full roid rage once they find out you have a (legal) gun”
      Sounds like you need to worry about getting better cops, not better laws. At least that would be my priority. (It actually is mine, but due to 1st amendment, not 2nd issues here.) As Jimmy Buffet said, “send lawyers, guns and money”. Trust me there are pro 2nd lawyers out there, and once I can afford to go back to school I hope become another one.

      For the uninitiated: http://www.cantonrep.com/news/x638339306/Daniel-Harless-fired-from-Canton-police-force
      This supports my theory about there being 2 types of cop. Type 1, usually a vet and/or child of a cop, joined to protect and serve due to a sense of honor and duty. These are the cops we grew up with. Unfortunately they have become increasingly rare and replaced by Type 2s. Type 2 got the sh#t beat out of them every day at school and decided “I’ll get a badge and a gun and then I can be the bully”. Somehow we let them become the norm, and like a cancer they chase off the Type 1s and we are left with the Harless’s.

  21. avatar fmunk says:

    Absolutely. Cops are paranoid enough already. They are trained to perceive everything as a potential threat. They hate surprises. If not a courtesy to them, do yourself a huge favor, and tell them you have a firearm.

  22. avatar Kaliope says:

    In Indiana, there is no duty to inform. My policy is to inform if asked, just because I aim to be an honest individual. The first time I did it, I ended up in jail for 12 hours because the cops didn’t realize that you can carry a black powder revolver in Indiana without a permit. I did, however, get a court-order to get a carry permit, so it turned out better than expected.

    The second time, the cop just shrugged it off after seeing my permit and told me to get my license plate mounted right.

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