RNH Law Blog

Do concealed carry holders in Illinois have to tell the cop that they have a firearm?

NO

The short answer is no but that’s not the whole story. First off, let’s get the legalese out of the way and talk about what’s required under the Illinois Firearm Concealed Carry Act, codified at 430 ILCS 66, et. seq. If an officer of a law enforcement agency initiates an investigative stop, including but not limited to a traffic stop, of a licensee or a non-resident carrying a concealed firearm… upon the request of the officer the licensee or non-resident shall disclose to the officer that he or she is in possession of a concealed firearm. 430 ILCS 66/10(h) (emphasis added). Moreover, you also have to disclose the location of the firearm.

That’s the strict letter of the law and it puts the onus on law enforcement to ask you before you have a duty to disclose.

YES

Wait, you already said I don’t have to tell the cops. Didn’t you?

Yes, but the statute says you have to disclose if the officer asks. You also have to produce your concealed carry permit, if you’re an Illinois resident, or if you’re not an Illinois resident: you must, “present upon the request of the officer evidence under paragraph (2) of subsection (e) of Section 40 of this Act that he or she is a non-resident qualified to carry under that subsection…” I’ll cover non-residents carrying concealed in Illinois in another blog post as it gets pretty far afield of this topic.

You also have to keep in mind the following: “During a traffic stop, any passenger within the vehicle who is a licensee or a non-resident carrying under subsection (e) of Section 40 of this Act must comply with the requirements of this subsection (h).” This means that if you’re a passenger in a car that gets pulled over, you have to meet all of the requirements listed above. It doesn’t matter that you’re simply along for the ride. If the officer asks, you have to tell.

MAYBE?

You already told us “no” and “yes”, so are you just trying to confuse us?

No confusion, just a thought to carry forward. Maybe it’s a better idea to tell the officer right away that you’re a concealed carry licensee and that you have a gun?

“But the law says I don’t have to!”

Every time I speak at a concealed carry class, I hear this from at least one of the students. It’s usually followed up by cries of “But muh rights!” While it is absolutely within the law to not tell the officer until requested, I do not see the point in waiting. If you’re driving your vehicle, the officer initiating the stop already knows if you hold a concealed carry permit. When your license plate is run, the officer is given notice that the owner of the vehicle is a concealed carry holder.

Most of the law enforcement personnel I’ve spoken with support lawful concealed carry. But it does raise the stakes for any traffic stop. So, that puts you in a situation where the officer knows the driver is possibly armed before they even approach your vehicle. Telling the officer immediately helps to relax an otherwise tense situation because you’re already showing a willingness to be cooperative and forthcoming.

So, what do you do?

My personal preference is to have my hands on the wheel with my window down before the officer approaches. I tell the officer that I’m a concealed carry holder, that I have a firearm, where the firearm is, and then I ask, “How would you like me to proceed?” When I have been pulled over, this approach has always relaxed the officer and led to a calm, uneventful interaction with law enforcement.

Others have suggested producing their driver’s license, proof of insurance, and their concealed carry license to the officer when they first approach. This is also a completely valid option. Personally, I don’t like to make a lot of movement before the officer approaches since this can be seen as an attempt to hide or conceal something when it’s really not. I’d rather wait for the officer to instruct me on how to proceed from there.

There is no one right answer for how to handle a traffic stop when you’re carrying a concealed firearm. Hopefully, this will give you some insight into your duties here in Illinois. Also, I’d like to hear from everyone on what they do when stopped by law enforcement.

Let me know in the comments below.