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California Gun Laws - Transporting a Gun in Your Vehicle
It is a potential felony in California to carry a loaded handgun in your vehicle unless you have a conceal carry permit, and your pistol has been registered in the California Department of Justice (sic) Automated Firearms System. If caught transporting a handgun unlawfully you could be arrested and jailed, spend thousands of dollars on legal defense fees and still receive a felony conviction. As a convicted felon you lose your right to own firearms.
If you are an honest, law-abiding gun owner in California you better be darn sure you know the rules for transporting a gun in your car. If you are a gang-banger or a criminal, don’t worry. These laws don’t pertain to you.
Read the laws
on to the website of the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA) listed
in the box to the right. Go to “Contact
Us” and ask them for a copy of their pamphlet “Summary of California
Gun Laws & Basic Safety Rules”. This
is one of the best summaries available of California’s
complex gun laws. When you receive your copy, read pages 5 through
7. Then send CRPA a donation or, better yet, become a member. They are fighting for your 2nd Amendment rights, which are rapidly dwindling away in California. While you are at it, join the NRA too.
If you do not have a concealed carry permit, you can only lawfully transport a concealed handgun in your vehicle if it is (1) unloaded and (2) locked in the vehicle’s trunk, or in a separate locked container other than the utility or glove compartment. This means you cannot carry the gun in your vehicle’s center console, even if it is locked, or in the storage area behind the rear seat in hatchbacks. Penal Code Section 12026.1 defines a locked container as “a secure container which is fully enclosed and locked by a padlock, key lock, combination lock, or similar locking device”. If your vehicle does not have a trunk, CRPA recommends you put your unloaded Kimber CDP in a locking hard case. A small, portable safe bolted to the floor of your trunk is also a good option.
Sean Penn carries
One caveat: The trunk of you car is not the safest place to store your cherished .45 Colt SAA. A pistol belonging to actor Sean Penn was stolen from the trunk of his car while it was parked on a city street in peaceful, utopian Berkeley, California. This is the same liberal, anti-gun Sean Penn who actually has a concealed carry permit even though he is a known hot-head who once punched a photographer for taking a picture of Penn and his then wife Madonna.
Loaded or not?
Under Penal Code Section 12031 (g) a firearm is consider loaded when there is a live round of ammunition “…in, or attached in ANY MANNER to, the firearm”. Using certain accessories which attach to the firearm and are designed to store additional ammunition (speed loader anyone?) may cause the firearm to be "loaded". Under Penal Code Section 171(e) a firearm is loaded whenever the firearm and the ammunition are in the immediate possession of the same person. CRPA recommends you do not store the ammunition in the same locked box with your prized .38 Colt Detective Special because it would put both pistol and bullets within your immediate possession when you open the box.
The legal authorization to transport a “concealed handgun” without a permit in your vehicle applies ONLY while going to or from the specific places, and for the specific purposes, identified in Penal Code Section 12026.2. These purposes are going hunting, going to a range, going to a gunsmith etc. It is illegal to transport a concealed pistol in your vehicle for GENERAL PURPOSES (such as self defense), even though it is unloaded and locked in a separate container. In other words, if you forget and leave your Taurus Judge 3” Magnum in the truck after coming back from the range, and later drive with it to the grocery store, you are unlawfully transporting the pistol.
- Bureau of Firearms - California Dept. of Justice - Office of the Attorney General
This is the Bureau of Firearms Home Page. Get the forms to register your handguns.
- Firearm and Gun Law Lawyers and Attorneys in California CA | Find the Best Lawyers, the Top Attorn
Firearm & Gun Law Lawyers and Attorneys in California CA @ US Lawyers Database | Attorneys Directory.
- California Gun Attorney - Home
Firearm and Weapon Lawyers for 27 years. Read our detailed information about California and Federal Gun laws.
Do you feel lucky?
California Penal Code 12025 reads: “Any person who commits the crime (sic) of carrying a concealed handgun and ammunition for that handgun…in his/her vehicle may be subject to a FELONY enhancement if the handgun is not on file (registered) in the Department of Justice’s (sic) Automated Firearms System.” In other words, if your Smith & Wesson M&P 45 is not registered, you are subject to a potential felony conviction just for having it unloaded and locked in a box in your vehicle if you are not on your way to the range.
Don't believe me? You may need an attorney soon so I have provided some resource links in the box to the right.
Rules don't apply to politicians
Write a letter to former California State Senator Don Perata (D, Alameda), thanking him for his role in passing the felony enhancement law. This is the same fervently anti-gun Don Perata who has a concealed carry permit because he says he receives death threats from pro-gun crazies. (Can you spell i-r-o-n-y?) This is also the same Don Perata who was carjacked in broad daylight in downtown Oakland by a career criminal who reportedly coveted the Senator’s state-leased Dodge Charger R/T with its set of 22” Panther chrome rims. Perata is running for mayor of Oakland so maybe he can do something about getting criminals off the street rather than criminalizing honest citizens.
Then again, maybe not.
- California Gun Laws - Transfer a Firearm
The laws in California concerning the lawful private sale or transfer of a firearm to another party are quite strict. Long gone are the days when you could purchase a 45/70 Marlin rifle from a private seller...