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What Most People Don’t Know About “Duty to Inform” Laws

If you have a concealed carry license, you probably know at least the basics of what “duty to inform” laws are. Most Americans, however, know nothing about any of this. Complicating the matter further is that these rules vary from state to state.

So, we feel it’s long past time to clear things up and get everyone on the same page. In general, when a state has duty to inform laws in place, it means that you have to disclose anytime you come into contact with law enforcement that you are carrying a firearm.

Let’s examine more details.

The Penalty If You Don’t Disclose 

There are a variety of penalties you could face if you ignore this law in your state, including fines and criminal charges. For example, in Alaska you are violating Statue 11.61.210, which is considered “misconduct with a weapon in the fifth degree” and is considered a class A misdemeanor. 

10 States With This Law for Immediate Disclosure

There are 10 states, and Washington, D.C. that require you immediately disclose to a police officer if you have a gun on you. Other states have the law that you need to disclose you are carrying only if specifically asked that question by a police officer. Those states include the following:

  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Texas
  • Louisiana
  • Arkansas
  • South Carolina
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Michigan
  • Nebraska

There are a couple of other states that have this disclosure law only if you are carrying without a permit. Those states are Maine and North Dakota. 

California is another state where they don’t have a blanket duty to inform law, but some local municipalities have these regulations in place. That can make it difficult to know whether or not to disclose. It’s probably better if you air on the side of caution and disclose if you live in California. 

How to Tell a Police Officer

Most people come into contact with a law enforcement official when they are getting pulled over for some kind of traffic violation. Even though you may be nervous, it’s important to remain as calm as possible when talking with the police officer. You don’t want to use any type of sarcasm or humor. 

Simply state to the officer, as soon as possible, “I have a license to carry.” You want to avoid saying the word “gun” because that can sometimes make the officer feel unsafe or hyper alert. 

More than likely, if it’s a minor traffic violation, they will let you keep your weapon. If they want you to remove the firearm, and give it to them, they will give you specific instructions to do so. You want to remain as calm and respectful as possible and follow their directions very carefully. They may also want to see your license to carry permit, which you should be able to produce and show them. 

Ohio Wants to Remove Their Duty to Carry Law

Lawmakers in Ohio are considering ditching this type of law entirely. Recently, the House State and Local Government Committee voted on House Bill 89 to remove the requirement to notify an officer during a traffic stop. 

They feel like this law is unnecessary, and during a traffic stop, the person being pulled over isn’t really thinking about disclosing their firearm in that moment, and the fact that they don’t just leads them into fines and extra charges that have nothing to do with the reason they were stopped in the first place. 

It will be interesting to see if the House passed this new bill in Ohio. If they do, maybe it will encourage other states to amend their own duty to inform laws.


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7 Responses

  1. Texas removed the duty to inform law a few years back. It is recommended that you inform them but it is no longer a crime to not do so.

  2. My interactions with Law Enforcement while either armed or transporting during hunting trips is always the same. Hands on the steering wheel in plain sight, windows down and interior lights on. Ask the Officer if he has enough room, I can pull over more if needed do you feel safe? Inform the officer first “officer before we get started I am armed and it’s on my left hip, I have my carry permit and it’s in my right front pocket, the registration is in the glove box how do you want to proceed. This has worked very well for me over the years and it defuses any stress the officer may have as one of the most stressful things they do on a day to day basis is a “Routine Traffic Stop because there is nothing routine about it. They know who owns the vehicle but they don’t know who is driving it.

    Michael J Mattia
    NRA Pistol Instructor
    MD. Handgun Qualification Instructor
    MD. State Carry and Wear Instructor

  3. Best advise in the world, Michael. Always be polite to the person doing his job whether you agree with him or not. Those who get in trouble are those who either have a chip on their shoulder, or are indignant because of who they think they are. Politeness goes a long well to dispel any difficulties one may perceive.

  4. In ‘any’ interaction with a police officer, be polite and respectful. If you are carrying, just let them know, whether you have to or not. It can go along way towards making the encounter go well. I’ve been stopped, shall we say, numerous times and I’ve always let the officer know I am carrying and exactly where my firearm is. Even if I ‘think’ they are wrong or know, for certain, that they ‘are’ wrong, I’m always polite and respectful. If the officer is ‘overbearing’ and seems to be flexing his power, I just make a mental note of his name and badge number and make a call later. My personal rule of thumb when dealing with the police is…be polite.

  5. It is for the safety of the officer that you inform them at all times you are carrying.

  6. Sometimes there has to be more clarification on what the law is or isn’t.

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