It is legal to transport your handgun to anyplace where it is legal to possess.
It is legal to transport your handgun to anyplace where it is legal to possess.
The usual problems one must avoid are
- carry loaded in public, without a license to carry; this is avoided by keeping ammunition out of the gun.
- carry a handgun concealed, without a license to carry; this is avoided most easily by using a completely enclosing locked container.
Penal Code provides an exemption for transporting a handgun concealed; typically one uses a completely enclosed locked container to transport an unloaded handgun. Trigger locks, cable locks and other devices are not useful to avoid violating the concealed weapon law.
Other than 'not in the gun', there are NO regulations on transporting ammunition. Ammunition may be carried in that locked container, in magazines or speed loaders, anywhere in a vehicle, so long as no ammunition is actually in the gun.
The container may be carried anywhere in a vehicle; transport is not restricted to a trunk.
Aside from 'registered assault weapons', California requires only that long guns be unloaded when transported - no lock or case required. Federal law regarding school zones requires that long guns be in a locked container or a locking gun rack while passing through those 1000 foot zones.
Other than 'assault weapons', for vehicle transport there are no 'destination' or 'route' limits so long as it is legal to possess a firearm en route or at the destination.
BEGINNING JANUARY 1, 2013 Long guns must be transported in a completely enclosing case when not in a vehicle; if the case is designed as a gun case, no lock required. If the case is NOT designed as a gun case, must also be locked.
Transporting a handgun
One may transport a handgun concealed, or, in very limited circumstances, openly - see below..
One may transport a handgun either in/on a vehicle or on foot.
OPEN handgun transport
At one time, open transport was legal in limited circumstances. Beginning Jan 1, 2012, open transport has been severely restricted, to the point of effectively banning the practice. This is the result of the success of AB 144 which added Penal Code Section 26350
26350. (a) (1) A person is guilty of openly carrying an unloaded handgun when that person carries upon his or her person an exposed and unloaded handgun outside a vehicle while in or on any of the following: (A) A public place or public street in an incorporated city or city and county. (B) A public street in a prohibited area of an unincorporated area of a county or city and county. (C) A public place in a prohibited area of a county or city and county. (2) A person is guilty of openly carrying an unloaded handgun when that person carries an exposed and unloaded handgun inside or on a vehicle, whether or not on his or her person, while in or on any of the following: (A) A public place or public street in an incorporated city or city and county. (B) A public street in a prohibited area of an unincorporated area of a county or city and county. (C) A public place in a prohibited area of a county or city and county. (b) (1) Except as specified in paragraph (2), a violation of this section is a misdemeanor.
Open merely means 'not concealed'. In a holster on one's belt, carefully kept away from outer garments or shirts which may cover the handgun, is 'open carry'. On the passenger seat next to a driver in a car, clearly visible, is 'open transport'.
CONCEALED handgun transport
In a vehicle
Penal Code 25400 (old 12025) creates the crime of carrying a concealed firearm. Penal Code 25610 (old 12026.1) and 25505 (old 12026.2) provide an exception for transporting a concealed weapon, if the correct procedure is followed
25610. (a) A citizen of the United States over the age of 18 years who resides or is temporarily within this state, and who is not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing, receiving, owning, or purchasing a firearm, from transporting or carrying any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person, provided that the following applies to the firearm: (1) The firearm is within a motor vehicle and it is locked in the vehicle's trunk or in a locked container in the vehicle. (2) The firearm is carried by the person directly to or from any motor vehicle for any lawful purpose and, while carrying the firearm, the firearm is contained within a locked container. (b) The provisions of this section do not prohibit or limit the otherwise lawful carrying or transportation of any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person in accordance with the provisions listed in Section 16580.
NOT in a vehicle
25505 In order for a firearm to be exempted under this article, while being transported to or from a place, the firearm shall be unloaded and kept in a locked container, and the course of travel shall include only those deviations between authorized locations as are reasonably necessary under the circumstances.
The 'locked container' requirement still applies, but other than to and from a vehicle, as above, the Penal Code has destination requirements beginning with Section 25510 and finishing at Section 25595, the 'other' section:
25595 This article does not prohibit or limit the otherwise lawful carrying or transportation of any handgun in accordance with the provisions listed in Section 16580.
"Locked container" is now defined at Penal Code 16850
As used in Sections 17740, 23925, 25105, 25205, and 25610, and in Article 3 (commencing with Section 25505) of Chapter 2 of Division 5 of Title 4, "locked container" means a secure container that is fully enclosed and locked by a padlock, keylock, combination lock, or similar locking device. The term "locked container" does not include the utility or glove compartment of a motor vehicle.
The code specifies either a separate locked container or the trunk of a motor vehicle while transporting a handgun in a vehicle.
The separate locked container may be located any place in the vehicle; it is not restricted to the trunk.
Vehicles without trunks
Since the trunk is not required, transport of a handgun, unloaded in a secure locked container, is allowed on bicycles and motorcycles, and in pickup trucks, vans and station wagons
Secure is not defined in the Penal Code. The implication of the lock language suggests access to the handgun should be difficult without properly opening the lock. While this page cannot recommend brands or models, both hard-sided and soft-sided gun cases and other 'substantial' enclosures which can be locked would seem to fulfill the requirements of the law.
Fully enclosed is not defined in the Penal Code. This language does disallow the use of only a trigger lock or cable lock; locks without the fully-enclosing containers are not locked containers.
Ammunition in the locked container is legal
So long as the handgun is itself unloaded, ammunition in the same container does not make the handgun loaded.
Some gun owners may be more comfortable transporting ammunition in a separate container, or a separate compartment of the locked container, but this is not required by current law.
A "trunk gun"
No Penal Code destination restrictions on vehicle carry
PC 25610, quoted above in 'concealed', is the only section that addresses in-vehicle transport of handguns, and there are no destination requirements.
Long guns, other than registered 'assault weapons', have no requirement other than 'unloaded' in California law.
Long guns are generally not 'concealable' by definition: PC 16530
(a) As used in this part, the terms "firearm capable of being concealed upon the person," "pistol," and "revolver" apply to and include any device designed to be used as a weapon, from which is expelled a projectile by the force of any explosion, or other form of combustion, and that has a barrel less than 16 inches in length. These terms also include any device that has a barrel 16 inches or more in length which is designed to be interchanged with a barrel less than 16 inches in length.
Some regulated/prohibited destinations in CA and Federal law
Note that carry of a handgun onto K-12 school property or college/university property requires a License to Carry, with that particular handgun listed on the license. Locked-case transport of unloaded handguns may also be excepted from California's Gun Free School Zone, and the restriction from bringing them onto school property during transport, but this is unclear. Transport/carry of a long gun onto school property is forbidden without express permission. Note further that Federal law prohibits firearms on most Federal property, including Post Offices, and requires both handguns and long guns to be locked up inside a Federal Gun Free School Zone.
But, if one avoids the possible prohibited destinations, there are no legal barriers to carrying an unloaded handgun or long gun in your vehicle.
NEW law in 2013
AB 1527 added some new sections to the Penal Code:
SEC. 12. Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 26400) is added to Division 5 of Title 4 of Part 6 of the Penal Code, to read: CHAPTER 7. CARRYING AN UNLOADED FIREARM THAT IS NOT A HANDGUN IN AN INCORPORATED CITY OR CITY AND COUNTY Article 1. Crime of Carrying an Unloaded Firearm that is not a Handgun in an Incorporated City or City and County 26400. (a) A person is guilty of carrying an unloaded firearm that is not a handgun in an incorporated city or city and county when that person carries upon his or her person an unloaded firearm that is not a handgun outside a vehicle while in the incorporated city or city and county. (b) (1) Except as specified in paragraph (2), a violation of this section is a misdemeanor.
26405. Section 26400 does not apply to, or affect, the carrying of an unloaded firearm that is not a handgun in any of the following circumstances: ... (c) When the firearm is either in a locked container or encased and it is being transported directly between places where a person is not prohibited from possessing that firearm and the course of travel shall include only those deviations between authorized locations as are reasonably necessary under the circumstances. ...
16505. For purposes of Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 26400) of Division 5 of Title 4, a firearm is "encased" when that firearm is enclosed in a case that is expressly made for the purpose of containing a firearm and that is completely zipped, snapped, buckled, tied, or otherwise fastened with no part of that firearm exposed.
Transporting Firearms Interstate
Above applies principally to California.
The NRA has published a Guide to the Interstate Transportation of Firearms which covers the Federal law and the local requirements of several states and cities, and a brief treatment of the laws in Canada and Mexico.
Restrictions are also imposed for Gun Free School Zones.
See the Flying with Firearms article.