Duty to Inform Over the Phone

This is my first time starting a thread so here goes.

My question is this: if a law enforcement officer asks you over the phone if you are armed do you have to tell them? What if they are not acting in a law enforcement capacity? Here’s the backstory.

I carry concealed in the state of MD at a private school. (It is legal. We hired an attorney to write a legal opinion before I went down this path.)

I had a phone conversation today from a MD state trooper who is interested in enrolling his kid. He wanted to know our school security protocol. His first question was whether or not I am armed. I avoided the question and told him we don’t disclose that publicly. He reiterated his question and seemed to want to have someone armed for the active shooter possibility. We discussed active shooter protocol. The conversation ended cordially and he seemed satisfied with what we were doing.

After I hung up, I wondered if the duty to inform an officer applies in this circumstance. If we were in person, I would have had to inform him (but honestly hadn’t thought through how I would respond if he were in person under those circumstances. I guess a phone call was a good dry run to make me think through this question from the standpoint of a parent who is a LEO.)

There is no duty to inform LEO in MD unless asked. Had this happened in person, I would have had a duty to inform. Over the phone he did not assert his LEO right to this information.

He didn’t exactly ask if I was armed presently. He was discussing this from the standpoint of a parent not in his capacity as LEO.

On the one hand, I second guess not answering his question directly. Yet in the less than friendly environment of the state of MD, I am hesitate to tell anyone I am carrying (school administration obviously knows, our teachers have not been informed). I just don’t want word to get out. I could see some parents removing their kids from the school. Although I think many parents would be happy about it.

On the other hand, I called his cell phone. And how do I know I am really talking to a LEO?

Does anyone know legally if the duty to inform only applies in person or if it applies during phone conversations?

Thanks in advance.


The real lawyers here will likely have much better answers but I don’t think you would have the duty to inform an LEO if he is not asking as part of his official LEO duties. He was calling as a father. Also think you would be right not to answer without proof that he is a LEO. What if he is just pretending to be to gain intel for an illegal action? Sounds like you handled it the best way possible.


In CA, it has to be an official LE contact.

If I were buying donuts next to a policeman and he says, “hey, how’s it going?”, I don’t have to disclose anything.


Based on what you posted, you seemed to have done everything correctly. When you’re talking to someone over the phone, you can’t validate that they’re a LEO. There’s no uniform, no badge. Especially from the school security scenario you were describing, you really have no idea who you’re talking to. It could be a reporter, a political activism group, or even a potential active shooter planning his attack. The information about who is carrying should be kept strictly on a need-to-know basis.


As with all other questions, the official answer is it depends on the state and situation.

Given that he was asking as a parent over the phone and not as an officer in the line of duty in person, I would think (IMO) that it’s not an official officer request so it would not be under the duty to inform clause.

Since he was asking about the security plan of the school, it doesn’t sound like he was asking about the school’s plans and not your specific status at the moment.

If he is a parent at the school you might want to ask him at some point about how someone should handle that type of situation (police asking over the phone/duty to inform). Not necessarily divulging that you’re carrying but as a curiosity question.

There are details about duty to inform on each of the pages of the USCCA Reciprocity Map.


I tried without success to find the law in MD that says you have a duty to inform when asked. USCCA in its state laws webpage for MD only says that there is no duty to inform, but doesn’t give any details such as you’re required to inform if asked, nor does it include a link to the specific law on any MD governmental website as is provided for many other states.

Putting aside the question of whether the caller really was a LEO or not, I have a different question. You said you don’t disclose publicly if you’re armed – do you disclose that to local law enforcement agencies? It would seem that’s an important piece of information for them to have, especially should they need to respond to an incident at the school.


Excellent question. No. I don’t disclose to local law enforcement.

I trained with FASTER. They encourage armed school staff to try to get local LEO to put you through their shooting qualification. The reasons are, yes, maintenance of proficiency, but for the exact reasons you’ve stated, i.e. cross training and familiarity if they have to respond. However, I interacted with a friend who is former LEO/SWAT. His advice was to not bring it up due to the politics and unlikeliness that they would actually participate with you. In a perfect world, things would be different.

Were a situation to unfold in which I needed to use my firearm, I would absolutely include a description of myself and the fact that I am armed and responding when I made the 911 call. I do understand that there are risks here.

Thanks for the question , Alec.

Thanks everyone for the response.

In the setting I am in at a school in Maryland, I am always very uncomfortable with this question. This is the first time I’ve directly got the question from an active LEO.

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That’s my ideal situation. But the laws, regulations, and security plans change with every state, county, and school district.

Sorry @Sinbad, I should have been more specific. I meant you, as in your school. So does your school let local law enforcement know there are people on campus who are armed?

And election?


No apology. Answer is the same for the same reasons. Unfortunately, I am the only one at the school who is armed. In Maryland the path to a permit is very narrow and the others who would theoretically be eligible to get a permit are not interested.

Does that answer the question? I’m sorry if I am misunderstanding your question.


Be careful that’s not some media hack trying to build a narrative.


Yep, thanks.

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@Sinbad That is a very interesting predicament Given many of the myths that surround LEO and schools in general. "A police officer is always on duty… Not so much. Lying to law enforcement is a Felony. Not so much when not in their official capacity.

I think your answer “The school does not comment on the presence of armed staff members” or words to that effect was the best you can state given a conversation with a voice on the phone. Now a State Trooper in uniform sitting across from you in your office asking these questions would receive a similar or shorter response. As it were I think you were correct to deflect and defer comment and just not answer the question. YOU had to get permission from SOMEBODY(s) to be armed at school, let THEM make the decision to disclose and I would hope they do it with council if it is an OFFICIAL request.

I am curious how you got around the whole Federal ban on guns on school property thing, which is full of holes anyway but curious as MD is liberal on many things but guns are not one of them.

On a personal note, I sent both my boys through private school as they were/are special learning needs. Me being me I was curious about the school’s policy and training for active shooters. I was politely informed that the school did have an active shooter protocol and they did practice it several times during the year much similar to fire drills but disclosing the presence of an armed staff member would be counter productive to both sides of the proverbial question, therefore NO answer would be given. That being said I know for a FACT the facilities guy and two other teachers did carry in school. Wish you well and “stick to your guns” see what I did there :sunglasses: :wink:



Edit to add: If the good Trooper becomes a member of the school cordially invite him and all his MDSP buddies in uniform to attend any and all functions in uniform. If you aren’t careful you might get them to do an Eddie Eagle presentation.


Welcome to the swamp!

I’m going to take the simple path. If I don’t know the speaker and / or we are having a discussion about anything over the phone my answer would be no.

I’m either compelled to reveal or not by state law for the LEO’s protection. It’s not my place to satisfy his curiosity or give him peace of mind remotely. I could be armed or disarmed if he/she decides to visit later.

The KISS principle works well for me!


I agree with @USCCA that the answer depends on the law of the jurisdiction where this occurs. I am not familiar with any laws that would require disclosure that you do or do not possess a firearm to a person on the phone who identifies themselves as a law enforcement officer.
Duty to inform laws are in place for officer safety, not as a matter of general knowledge. A LEO on the phone with you has no legitimate safety concerns with whether you are in possession of a firearm.
As for the specific of @Sinbad’s question, unless there are laws specifically addressing the issue, I would not divulge any security plans over the phone to anyone, even someone who claims to be law enforcement. I would suggest inviting the person or persons for a private meeting to discuss plans and even invite them to review the plans and make suggestions. I would even suggest going so far as to invite the appropriate agencies to train at the facility, preferably with your own personnel, so they are familiar with the facility and the plans and even get to meet the people who will be the front line before they arrive. It may turn in to a mutual learning experience.


Thanks @Craig6 for the follow up.

His first question when I got on the phone with him was, “are you armed?” My response was something to the effect of we are not opposed to the concept, but if we did, we wouldn’t tell anybody. He responded to the effect of, “so you are armed?” To which I replied, “I didn’t say that. What I said is if we did, we wouldn’t tell anyone.” His response was, “so you aren’t disclosing” which I affirmed. He than asked what our plan is for an active shooter. I referenced in general the Standard Response Protocol we use and some of the instructions we give to staff (nothing secretive). He honestly didn’t seem interested in a long explanation. The whole conversation is odd. I’ve had several interactions with LEO’s, military, and security personnel who have sought enrollment in our school. Some of them have asked that question. None of them have pushed that question farther than my initial “if we did, we wouldn’t tell anyone.” Most are then more interested to hear about our plans. This guy didn’t seem too terribly interested. I’ve invited those inquirers to walk the physical plant with me and chat through our security plans. I’ve never had one take me up on it.

Regarding the federal ban on guns on school property, I’ll quote to you from the legal opinion we sought. The attorney we used was recently appointed by MD Governor Hogan to be a judge.

After discussing Maryland law, he said, “Finally there is the Federal Gun Free School Zones Act (GFSZA) of 1990. It is a common misperception that this bars firearms on school property. In [your school’s] case this is incorrect. First the constitutionality of this whole statute is suspect. The original act was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1990. It
was tweaked by Congress in 1996 but that amendment remains suspect as to its constitutionality. Irrespective of that the GFSZA does not apply to an individual who possess a firearm who “is licensed to do so by the State in which the school zone is located…” Federal law does not specify what sort of license is needed. It is assumed by most that this means a concealed carry license, however Maryland now requires a handgun qualification license which requires
a background check as well. A strong argument could be made that this is sufficient. Nor does it apply to “… an individual in accordance with a contract entered into between a school in the school zone and the individual or an
employer of the individual.” Nothing in the law specifies that this contract has to be in writing. An oral agreement would do. Either one of these should provide sufficient exception to make the GFSZA irrelevant in your situation.
The above should answer your question 1.”

That’s awesome that your kids went to private school. Ironically, my wife’s degree is in special education. Our school has a special ed program and that’s initially what drew us. (I’d flee the state of MD if we didn’t love this school so much.)

We have many LEO’s in our school community. I welcome their input. Ironically, none of them have ever asked me “the question.”

I appreciate your interaction very much. Thank you!


@Robert_M3 Valid point. Wasn’t in my thinking at the time. But valid point.

I did Google the guy’s name before I called him back.

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@MikeBKY Thanks for chiming in. I appreciate it. You’ve “armed” me for any potential follow up meeting with the parent. I did invite him to give input, but as I stated elsewhere, I’ve never had anyone take me up on that.

What I give is relatively generic information.


@Sinbad I like where your head is at and I like the lawyer/judges response even better, thank you for typing it all out. I will stand with my original assertion that it is better to be perceived a fool than to open your mouth and prove it. I don’t know what your position is but it is not up to you to disclose that there ARE armed staff or not and certainly not to a perspective. This may just be a one of that you are certainly and justifiably a little twitchy over but it may be a good idea to bring forth the conversation to those that allowed you to carry along with a couple of canned answers as “fixes”. Back in the day (I can still quote this) “I can neither confirm or deny the presence of nuclear weapons onboard this vessel. Any further questions on this topic must be addressed to the PAO (Public Affairs Officer)” The response up and down the pier was the same no matter what ship or what pier. It didn’t matter if it was a tug boat, aircraft carrier or submarine we all said the same thing.

So in your schools case it may come as a complete shock to some teachers aid that there is such a thing as an active shooter response or some anti gun person, the school should have a blanket statement that unequivocally states that the presence of armed staff members is not discussed or disclosed at any level. The one thing I did take away from private school is that they live and die on donations and endowments and that’s a doggone slippery slope.