What is the duty to inform?
“Duty to inform” means that individuals are required to disclose the presence of a firearm upon making contact with law enforcement. This law is crucial for concealed carriers to know. For example, if you are pulled over for a traffic violation, you must inform the officer that you have a firearm on you or in your vehicle.
This is only a requirement, however, in duty to inform states.
Duty to Inform Law Types
Duty to inform laws have a few formats. Generally, these are: inform without being asked, informed if asked, no duty to inform, and “other.” These formats are self-explanatory for the most part. Some laws required you to inform the officer without being asked while others require you to disclose if you’re asked. Additionally, some states do not require you to inform the officer and some states don’t have a classification.
Regarding the last category of “other,” this can happen for a few reasons. For example, New York and California do not have a duty to inform law at the state level; however, New York does at the municipal level and California does at the county level.
Another example is in North Dakota and Maine, where you have a day to inform if you are carrying without a permit. If you are carrying concealed with a permit, you do not have a duty to inform. Additionally, in North Dakota, it only applies if you are a resident carrying a permit. Non-residents must inform.
It is the carrying individual’s responsibility to know the duty to inform requirements of the locality in which the person resides and travels to or through.
One should be prepared to produce their concealed carry permit to verify they are carrying legally, except in constitutional carry states.
If you are required to inform an officer that you have a firearm, whether compulsory or asked, be sure to inform the officer early. During a traffic stop, tell them right as they get to your window. It is best to phrase your disclosure as, “I am carrying a concealed firearm, officer, and I have a permit for it.” They may ask to know the location of the firearm or you may tell them. They will give you instructions on what to do next. They will likely instruct you on how to get your license and registration out for them. Do not make any sudden movements.
By telling the officer upfront that you have a concealed weapon, you allow put the ball in their court and they will decide how to proceed safely and calmly with your interaction. It’s better to let the officer take charge of the encounter and walk you through it.
If you are in a state that does not require you to inform or only when asked, you can still inform an officer without being prompted. Law enforcement doesn’t like surprises, and disclosing this information helps form a little trust during your encounter.
Duty to Inform States
There are two types of duty to inform states: inform without being asked and inform if asked.
There are 12 states, plus the District of Columbia, that require individuals to inform law enforcement upon contact (without being asked). These states are:
- District of Columbia
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Fourteen states require individuals to individuals to inform law enforcement of a concealed firearm if asked. These states are: