By Tom Knighton
“Duty to inform” is a legal obligation on a gun owner to tell police they’re armed during any kind of contact with law enforcement. Some people, especially police officers, like this because it keeps surprises to a minimum. Some gun carriers do it even without a duty to inform because they don’t want officers getting punchy if they see a firearm.
Obviously, there are some who want this to be the law of the land.
I’m not one of them. Frankly, I don’t tell the police I’m a registered voter, or that I exercise my right to free speech on a daily basis, so I don’t see any reason to tell them I’m exercising my right to keep and bear arms. I just also make sure they have no reason to suspect I’m reaching for a firearm, either.
Frankly, I do that whether I’m armed or not.
Part of why I oppose duty to inform laws is that people in stressful situations may well forget to tell the police things. That includes that they’re armed for whatever reason. That seems to have landed one Ohio woman in handcuffs after she called the police herself.
In the fight to change the law regarding the duty to promptly notify a law enforcement officer that one is legally exercising their right to bear arms in the State of Ohio, Buckeye Firearms Association is often asked what harm is the current law actually causing.
Another such example comes to us this week from the city of Warren, where a woman who called police for help in removing a wanted man from her home was charged for having forgotten to notify the officer that she had a concealed handgun license (CHL) and had her firearm in her purse.
A Warren woman who called the police to remove a man from her home was cited for failing to tell officers she had a gun in her purse.
Police say they seized the conceal carry permit and handgun from Ashley Heiskell after she had called officers to remove a man who was at her Commerce Street townhouse early Tuesday.
Officers arrested the man after confirming Heiskell’s claim that he is wanted on a warrant out of Cuyahoga County.
One of the officers also asked dispatchers about the 33-year-old woman and discovered Heiskell had a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
When the officer asked her about the permit, she showed him a 9mm handgun she carried in her purse.
Asked why she didn’t tell officers that she had the gun as required under Ohio law and taught in CCW classes, Heiskell said she didn’t know she had to do that and didn’t remember much about the classes, according to the police report.
Police issued a summons for Heiskell to appear in Warren Municipal Court to answer a charge of failure to notify. The officer also took Heiskell’s gun and the permit.
This woman was literally charged because she had armed herself when a wanted man was in her home and neglected to mention that fact to the responding officers.
Now, I’m sorry, nothing about this is right and this right here is why I refuse to support any duty to inform laws. While I believe it’s no one’s business whether I’m carrying or not, I also don’t want to see someone get jammed up because they either didn’t know they had to tell police or they simply forgot under the stress of the situation.
Look, I have a lot of respect for the police. However, we all need to remember that while some officers are very pro-Second Amendment, others aren’t. They take an “us versus them” approach to society and will find anything to charge you with that they can. These aren’t the majority of officers, but there are enough of them that you have to be careful.
Removing duty to inform laws simply makes life easier for everyone.