Don't Ask, Don't Tell. No duty to disclose to an Officer that you're carrying.

If you decide to preemptively disclose that you’re carrying a concealed weapon, be prepared to be taken out of the car, searched and disarmed.

In most circumstances the presence of your firearm on you or in your vehicle is not going to be a problem and most times the Officer won’t ask, but there are Officers that are not pro gun and they may give you an unusually hard time...

Should you preemptively disclose to law enforcement that you have a concealed weapon in your vehicle. Does preemptively disclosing that you have a firearm put you in greater risk of danger ?

Didn’t Ask – Don’t Tell. No duty to disclose that you’re carrying.

It’s perfectly legal not to disclose that you have a concealed weapon and that doesn’t create any risk to you or for the Officer.

By disclosing that you are armed, you give the Officer reasonable cause to want to search and disarm you and prolong the stop while your carry permit credentials are being verified. What if they’re unable to verify it right there on the spot for some reason. You would have turned a routine traffic stop into an unnecessary nightmare that could last hours at a police station and derail your entire schedule. By needlessly preemptively disclosing to the Officer that you are legally carrying, you open up the opportunity for the Officer to lawfully search you and then detain you for however long it takes for him to investigate you and the authenticity of your carry permit.

In most circumstances the presence of your firearm on you or in your vehicle is not going to be a problem and most times the Officer won’t ask, but there are Officers that are not pro gun and they may give you an unusually hard time for no reason once you disclose that you’re carrying concealed. Think back to when you didn’t carry concealed. Did any Officer at a traffic stop ask you if you were carrying a firearm ? Exactly.

Suppose this Officer has applied for a personal concealed carry permit and is either still waiting for a decision on his application after many years or worse, his application may have been denied. But then you come along and preemptively disclose that you have a concealed weapon on you and when he checks your permit he observes that not only do you have a licensed firearm, you have several listed on your permit and he doesn’t even have one. You might have just set yourself up for unnecessary stress. We’ve all met people who stretch the limits of their authority. For example one night I was in Trinidad and we were stopped in what they call a routine roadblock.

In the USA there is no such thing as a routine roadblock, it’s either they have probable cause to stop and search you or they don’t and their interaction with you is a violation of your 4th and 6th amendment rights.

Anyway, back to the roadblock. None of us were armed. They asked where we were going and we told them West Moorings to visit a friend. The roadblock was situated just before the entrance to that community. They asked where we came from and we told them, Tunapuna which is about 13 miles east of West Moorings which is roughly about a fifty minute drive. The Officer insisted that we didn’t look like Trinidadians and demanded our identification, which we provided but then he demanded to see passports for everyone in the car who wasn’t a Trinidadian. To put things into perspective for those in Trinidad reading this, when a Police Officer in the USA stops you for a traffic violation, he is obligated to deal specifically with that violation and that alone and it must be something specific to you, there is no generalized routine roadblock. US Officers generally cannot then switch from the reason he stopped you to investigating something else unless he has probable cause to believe that another crime has taken place and it is obvious to him for example the smell of marijuana in the car or the smell of alcohol on the breath of the driver or a gun out in the open plain as day for him to see.

In our situation, none of that was the case but the Trinidad & Tobago Police Officer was hunting for a reason to interrupt our night and distress us for no reason at all. The Officer demanded passports and when we told him that we didn’t have those with us he decided to detain us and take us to the police station until we could produce our passports. We explained to him that there was no one at home to bring the passports to us and the only people who had access to the house are in the car but he didn’t care, he insisted that he wanted to detain us just because he had the authority to do so. Can you imagine disclosing to a guy like him that you have a concealed weapon and permit not knowing if he has a hang-up with armed civilians especially if his carry permit was denied or has been pending a decision for several years…?

You’re not under any obligation to preemptively revealed that you’re carrying a concealed weapon. You’re only obligated to reveal that you're armed if YOU ARE SPECIFICALLY ASKED. If he asks the driver but didn’t ask you, keep your mouth shut.

In case you’re wondering how things turned out that night with Officer Wonderful, let me quickly clear that up. A couple weeks prior to this, I was stopped in another one of those road traffic exercises but that time it was for speeding. I’d gone 5 kilometers per hour over the speed limit, which for the Americans reading is 3.11 miles per hour above the speed limit. No American cop will stop you for doing 3 miles per hour over the limit even on his worse day. Anyhow, I asked the Constables a bunch of questions that they couldn’t answer so they sent over the Inspector in charge of the exercise, Inspector Frank. We had a long friendly exchange while we waited for the Constables to come over with the speed certificate that showed what the violation was and when I saw it was just 5 km/hr over the limit I asked him if he was really going to give me a ticket for $1,000 and he said yes because I was over the limit. I told him to come to court because I’m not going to pay it. We laughed and I complimented him about how professional and friendly the Constables were and he explained that their deportment was part of his responsibility and training. One the night that Officer Wonderful was insisting that we produce passports, Inspector Frank was there so I went and spoke with him. He remembered me. I explained to him that we were going to a friend’s house to lime (hang out) and that we didn’t have passports and three of us were leaving the country the next morning and Officer Wonderful wanted to detain all of us. Furthermore, apart from not having passports, there was no other cause for concern. Inspector Frank allowed us to go. In case you didn’t know, if you’re a foreigner in Trinidad & Tobago, you’re required by the strict letter of the law to have your passport with you at all times. This is almost NEVER enforced.

I gave that example just to demonstrate just how much drama you can get yourself in for something seemingly innocent as preemptively revealing that you have a concealed weapon on you. Most Officers would not make a big deal out of it but do you know which ones will or will not ? Your obligation to reveal that you’re carrying concealed only arises when specifically asked by the Officer. At that time you indicate yes, say where the weapon is and where your credentials are. Do not move, do not attempt to reach for your documents or anything else. The only thing that should be moving at that point are your lips. Ask the Officer what he wants you to do then follow his instructions very deliberately. Keep your hands where he can see them at all times and before reaching for your documentation tell him that you’re about to do that and how. Do it slowly. That way, you reduce the risk of him or his fellow Officers misinterpreting anything you’re doing as threatening.

If you decide to preemptively disclose that you’re carrying a concealed weapon, be prepared to be taken out of the car, searched and disarmed. That may or may not happen but if it does, you caused it.