During a traffic stop, should I tell a
law enforcement officer I am legally armed

This question has many answers.  The one area you should know is if this is required in the state you are stopped.  In your home state, it might not be required by law.  However, in another state it might be mandatory for you to advise the officer.  Here is what I have placed in the travel guides we publish.

How to advise a law enforcment officer you are legally armed.

If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer, you should advise him or her that you have a license or permit to carry [officer I have an Alabama Pistol Permit or whatever state license or permit you possess] , and I am armed. In some states this is not mandated by law but, in some other states you travel, it might be a requirement in their law. Whatever the case, it is something you should do just to be courtious to the officer.

I have been told by some people, that unless the officer specifically asks about a weapon, it is none of their business. Well, if the officer thinks you should have informed him about being armed, a ton of tickets could be issued just to make a point! You might beat every one of the charges but, it cost you time and money to do it. Better to advise that you are armed before being asked.  How is he going to know? 

Most licenses or permits are tied into a drivers license.  When the officer calls in to make sure your drivers license is valid and their are no warrents or charges, it will come back that the owner of the drivers license also has a license or permit to carry a firearm.  In most situations, this is how they know your are authorized to carry. 

If you can obtain a 'duplicate' license or permit, keep it on the back of the visor.  When the officer asks to see your carry license or permit, tell him or her it is on the back of the visor and he or she can get it or you will get it.  Doing this allows the officer to see your hands all the time.  You do not have to go into any pocket to get your carry license or permit.  It is not a bad idea to keep a 'duplicate' drivers license in the same location.  See photo # 1.  Note:  Having a duplicate license or permit also helps if you are on a trip and you misplace your wallet or it is stolen.  Every state mandates that the license or permit be on you if your are carrying.  Without having a duplicate, you cannot carry. 
When stopped, keep your hands on the steering wheel [see photo # 2] so the officer can see both of your hands.  If the stop occurs at night, turn on the dome light]. You could be asked by the officer to surrender your weapon while he checks your license or permit to make sure it is valid.

When the officer asks where the pistol is do this:

Tell the officer where the pistol is and would the officer want to take it, or would he prefer that the pistol be handed to him [keep your hands on the wheel during all of this & don't point to the pistol].  If the officer wants it handed over [ most don't want  to do this ], use the weak hand to get and hold the pistol with grip towards officer [ see photo #3 ].

Whatever you do, make sure that you do not hand the pistol to the officer with the muzzle pointed at the him or her [ see photo # 4 ].

Photo 1

Keep a duplicate license or pemit behind the visor.


Photo 2

Keep both hands on the steering
column when the officer approaches.


Photo 3

If the officer wants you to hand over the pistol,
make sure you do it with the grip towards the officer.


Photo 4
 When handing over the pistol don't ever point the muzzle towards 
the officer or, your driving days & possible your life might be over!


The majority of law enforcement officers respect the right of law abiding citizens to carry firearms for self-defense but, their job can be stressful. The procedures outlined here will keep both you and the officer safe and respectful to each other.

Two states that require telling a law enforcment officer you are armed:
Alaska & Michigan

If you would like to hear a police officer speak on this issue, click camer icon.
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Not everyone is going to agree on these procedures. 
If you want to post some comments,
use the e-mail below & they will be posted below.



I live in Alabama. We don't have any training to get an Alabama Pistol Permit.  I have wondered what I should do if I am stopped in another state and I am carrying my pistol.  This aricle helped me to understand more about it.  Thanks for the help.
Huntsville, Alabama

I am a police firearms trainer in Indiana.  We do not require any training before a person receive their Indiana Permit.  I think training should be required but, I don't make the rules.  I want to let you know that I think you are doing a good service with articles like this.  Not everyone will agree with what you say but, it is a topic that needs to be understood by a pesron who is legally carrying a firearm.  Most police officers see a lot of bad things.  The one thing they don't want to see is something happening to them.  This is why some officers are concerned about this type of incident.  I am not because I believe that a law abiding citizen should be able to defend themselves against the scum that prey on people.  Keep up the good work.
Almost retired cop,
Fort Wayne, Indiana
I don't agee.  If they ask, I will tell them.  If they don't ask I wont tell them.  I have been spread against my car by a young officer who said he wanted to make sure I only had the one pistol I told him about.  After that, I said why tell them if I don't have to.  Some of these guys just want to show their 'power' of the badge.
Keeping my mouth shut in Georgia,
Atlanta, Georgia
Good idea about the duplicate permit.   If I had a permit I would get a duplicate.
Come to think about it, the police would probably just beat me up again.
Rodney King

© 2007