Traffic Stops & Firearms: Should You Tell an Officer You Have a Gun?

What happens when you are stopped by an officer, and you have a firearm in your car?

There is no law that specifically requires you to tell the officer that you have a firearm in the car. However, there’s a lot of situations in which it would be strongly advisable to do so. For example: if there is any change the officer is going to see the firearm, or that it will somehow become relevant or know during this conversation. If the answer to any of these is yes, then we strongly recommend you let the officer know up front.

Don’t use the word “firearm” and don’t use the word “gun;” instead, simply inform the officer that you have a carry permit.


Telling the Officer You Have a Carry Permit

One of the best ways to do this is to hand the officer your carry permit in addition to your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance cards.

This way, you would not have to make any other comments about carrying; this is a respectful way that most officers will appreciate.


What If Your Firearm Is In the Glove Box?

What if you are legally carrying a gun in your glove box alongside your insurance or registration card? How should you handle a traffic stop?

This creates a more challenging situation because as you are opening up the glove box, the officer may inadvertently think you are going for your gun.

Before you do that, simply let the officer know that you have a carry permit. You can say “Officer, I have a carry permit. What would you like me to do?” Be sure to keep your hands on the steering wheel or dashboard, and don’t make any gestures towards the firearm. The way you handle the situation – with poise and respect – will likely be reflected in how the officer responds to you.


What If the Officer Asks You to Get Out of the Car?

If an officer asks you to step out of the car while you are carrying a concealed firearm, it is important to inform the officer – if you haven’t already. As soon as the officer has asked you to step out of the vehicle, comply and let the officer know immediately. You can say “Officer, I want you to know I have a concealed carry permit.”

Do not reach for the firearm; do not gesture towards it. Keep your hands in front of you in a very visible and safe manner and wait for the officer’s instructions.


How Do I Get a Permit for Concealed Carry?

The process to get a concealed carry permit is fairly short and inexpensive here in Pennsylvania.

You’ll go to the sheriff in the county and fill out some paperwork including an application and complete a background check. These can typically be done on the same day and the same visit, but it can depend on the county you’re in.

In Lancaster County, the process typically takes approximately twenty minutes. The background check is done through the Pennsylvania State Police or the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) to determine if you’re prohibited by law for any reason to carry.

After approval, your county sheriff can issue you a license to carry firearms that is valid for 5 years, unless revoked.


Contact Trinity Law

If you need help understanding your second amendment rights or feel that you’ve been unjustly treated after a traffic stop, please contact the team at Trinity Law.

With offices throughout southcentral PA, our firearms attorneys serve individuals in York, Lancaster, Adams, Dauphin, and surrounding counties.