This is a question I get a lot. What is the best way to handle an interaction with a law enforcement officer while carrying a firearm? Should they be informed? Do you have a legal obligation to inform them? How should you act? For the purposes of this particular article we will keep the discussion focused on the State of Connecticut and its laws.
First let’s talk about the law and what you, as a private citizen, are obligated to do in the event you are carrying concealed and come into contact with law enforcement. There is no law in the State of Connecticut that requires a private armed citizen to inform a law enforcement officer of the fact that they are armed. Having said that, I believe that there is no reason to not inform the officer that you are armed.
Why would you inform them? First, the minute an officer runs your license plates or drivers license he or she knows that you have a concealed carry permit (CCP). Connecticut Pistol Permit information is directly tied to Connecticut residents DMV records. Obviously, they don’t know if you are armed or not but they know you could be. Second, a law enforcement officer has a right to safety and a feeling of safety. Finally, if your a law abiding gun owner there is no reason to not inform them. If you are doing the right thing and following the law then there will be no problem.
How should you inform them that you are carrying concealed? During a traffic stop, place both hands on the steering wheel and tell the officer where the firearm is located. If the interaction occurs outside of a vehicle keep your hands in plain view and make no sudden movements. Again, you should inform the officer where the firearm is located. In both cases, follow the officers commands and provide both your ID and CCP. You should also allow them to disarm you, if they so choose.
As I tell people constantly in my classes this is a personal decision that you must make on your own. Do you or do you not inform law enforcement that you are armed? I believe you should. But it’s on each person to make up their own mind on how to deal with this type of situation.