There are criteria for a person to legally carry a gun in their car. Here’s everything to know about carrying a gun in a car in California.

In order for an authorized individual to carry a firearm in their car, they must abide by certain restrictions as to where that firearm can be kept. For example, a handgun must be unloaded in a locked container (not the glovebox), an unloaded shotgun or rifle (long gun) must be carried openly or meet the locked container requirement if it is not visible, and an unloaded gun can be placed on a seat, floor, or in a rack.

What Else?

  • Further requirements/restrictions for carrying a firearm in a car in California include:
  • Handguns must be locked away and kept out of sight if the authorized owner leaves their vehicle unattended,
  • Handguns can only be transported from one exempted (permitted) location to another, and therefore cannot be carried on a “just-in-case” basis,
  • Long guns can be carried “just-in-case,” however, this changes as soon as the car is taken outside of the vehicle, and
    School zones will have more stringent restrictions.

More information on how to properly transport an authorized firearm in California can be found here.

Related: Concealed Carry Gun Laws in California

What is a CCW?

A concealed firearm in one’s vehicle is carried with the intent of it being invisible to other people. This also includes firearms stowed away in its carrying case. “CCW” means that one is carrying a concealed weapon (also referred to as a “concealed carry”). When a person is authorized to own a gun and has a CCW permit, they are allowed to carry a concealed weapon, for example, a handgun, in public. The weapon can be held on one person or in close proximity.

A person will need to have a CCW license in order to carry a concealed gun in their vehicle. There are specific requirements a person must meet in order to acquire a CCW license in California. In short, the person must be 18 years of age or older, and they must obey the conditions and restrictions as to where, when, and how the gun can be carried. For example, there are locations that are off-limits for a gun to be carried, such as schools, courthouses, and businesses that commercially sell alcohol for public consumption.

Related: How to Get a CCW Permit in California

An overview of all gun laws in California can be found here.

Can I Carry a Gun In My Car With a CCW in California?

In California, pursuant to Penal Code Section 25610, any U.S. citizen over the age of 18 who is not prohibited from owning a firearm, and who is permanently or temporarily living in California, is allowed to transport any handgun in their vehicle’s trunk or locked container––provided that it is unloaded. This applies whether a person has a CCW or not.

Additionally, the handgun must be carried to or from one motor vehicle to another for a lawful purpose, and while it is carried, it must be kept in a locked container. Furthermore, pursuant to Penal Code Section 16850, the phrase “locked container” means that the handgun is secured and fully enclosed and locked by a padlock, key lock, combination lock, or some other locking device. Areas, where a handgun can be stored in the vehicle, can include the trunk, but not the glove or utility compartment.

What about shotguns, rifles, and registered assault weapons?

Non-concealable firearms (which do not require a CCW license) are not typically covered under Penal Code Section 25400, and therefore do not need to be transported in a locked container. Although shotguns and rifles do not need to be stored in a locked container, they do need to be unloaded while in a vehicle.

According to Penal Code Section 30945, subdivision (g), Registered assault weapons can be transported only between two specified locations and must be unloaded and stored in a locked container during the entire duration of the trip. The same criteria (expressed above) for what qualifies as a “locked container,” pursuant to Penal Code Section 16850 applies here.

Related: What is “Good Cause” for a CCW Permit in California?

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If you or a loved one wants to know more about carrying a gun in a car in California, get your free consultation with one of our attorneys today!