Can You Carry a Gun in Your Car?

Can You Carry a Gun in Your Car?


Mathew R Reed
July 28, 2021

A carefully thought-out defense plan is something most people have, and their firearm is usually a big part of it.

When you’re driving on the road, there are many potential hazards and risks that you’ll want to be ready to defend against, but it might not always be possible or legal to be carrying a gun.

Can you carry a gun in your car? Depending on the state you’re in, it may be legal to conceal carry a firearm in a vehicle in the US, with variations on how this should be done.

However, to do so legally, you’ll need a current concealed carry permit and will need to follow the laws of each state, which may include that the firearm is secured and locked away separately from the ammunition.

There are many reasons why someone might want the protection of their gun on the road, but like all other aspects of firearm ownership, it should always be done safely and legally.

This guide answers all of your questions about carrying a gun in your vehicle so you can be sure you’re doing it right.

Can You Legally Carry a Gun in Your Car?

Can You Legally Carry a Gun in Your Car?

In the United States, there are varying legislations regarding carrying a firearm in a vehicle, so it pays to know what’s what in your area.

Most states require gun owners to have a concealed carry permit that lets them take their firearm with them in their vehicle, but there is also a small number that doesn’t require one.

In California, for example, you’ll need a permit for a concealed weapon, and the weapon must also be secured and unloaded while driving with the ammunition stored separately.

In Arizona, though, you can open or conceal carry a handgun in the car while it’s loaded without a permit, so the two vary dramatically.

Generally, it’s legal in most places to carry a concealed firearm in the car, but there’s also a huge grey area to consider.

Any responsible gun owner needs to do their research on how these laws vary from state to state, and it’s up to them to know what the rules are when entering another location.

Traveling With a Gun

Traveling With a Gun

A concealed carry permit is only valid for the state that it was issued in. This means there’s a good chance you won’t be able to use it when you’re traveling, but a slight chance that it may be recognized it another state.

Therefore, if you plan on going to another state in your car and want to take your gun with you, you need to know the law.

If you pass through a restricted state with your gun, you’ll be covered by the Firearm Owner’s Protection Act which says a firearm must be unloaded, locked away, and with ammunition stored and locked away separately.

However, this law only applies to those who are passing through and not making any stops, so you can’t stay overnight or visit friends without following the rules.

The Potential Risks of Carrying in a Vehicle

The Potential Risks of Carrying in a Vehicle

What makes carrying a firearm in a car such a hot topic is that there are additional risks to consider.

Unlike storing a gun at home in a safe with a separate lockable safe for the ammunition, being on the move with a weapon is a different story. Here are some risks to consider:

  • The risk of a gun or other types of valuables being stolen from a vehicle is exceptionally higher, given that cars are easier to break into than most homes. As people leave their guns in their car when they go to visit a friend or into the grocery store, there’s a good chance someone could easily smash a window or jimmy the door open and grab it.
  • If you’re driving the car, the act of trying to reach your gun or stopping to get it out could be a major distraction. You should always look for different solutions for avoiding trouble and only ever consider the firearm as your last defense.
  • Even when the ammunition and firearm are stored separately, they’re still likely to be somewhere in the car. If someone tried hard enough, they could find both of them and make a deadly and dangerous combination.
  • During a situation like a carjacking where you want to access your weapon, unless it’s being carried on your person and is loaded, you might not get to it fast enough. If you live in a state where the gun must be stored away separately from the ammo in the trunk of the car, it’s likely not going to be as effective.

Leaving a Gun In The Car

Leaving a Gun In The Car

Just as important as how you carry the gun while you’re in the car is what you do with it once you get out. Unless you’re carrying the weapon on your person with the right permit, you’ll need to leave it locked up and stored correctly in the vehicle if you’re not in it.

This is again a matter of looking at the state you reside in and what their laws are, as it varies for each location.

In some states, you’re able to open carry a weapon on your person or leave it anywhere in the car, and in others, there’ll be a specific place where firearms and ammo must be stored and in a locked safe or compartment.

A recent look at statistics published in The Atlantic showed that police departments in 14 major cities in the US reported an increase of 40 percent when it comes to guns being stolen from cars.

This number coincides with higher rates of gun sales as well and highlights the importance of having the firearm stored securely, and extra care is taken with your car’s security as well.

Tips for Safely Carrying a Gun in a Vehicle

Tips for Safely Carrying a Gun in a Vehicle

Although there are some risks involved with carrying a firearm in your vehicle, there’s also a lot of benefits. To ensure you do it the right way and keep yourself and others safe, we’ve got some tips for safety carrying a gun in the car at all times.

  • For a concealed carry weapon that’s on your person, do some practice runs of sitting in the driver’s seat to make sure it’s comfortable. You may need to choose a new carrying position that works with the seatbelt and seat, so be prepared to make some changes.
  • Invest in a quality vehicle-specific gun safe and ammunition lockbox. Avoid putting your firearm in the typical places like the glovebox, as this will make them more susceptible to theft.
  • If you plan on traveling outside of your state, look into the state laws regarding concealed and open carry, and what’s required when passing through or visiting the area.

Carrying on the Road

The knowledge that your handgun is with you when you’re traveling in your vehicle can give great peace of mind to some, especially if you spend a lot of time on the road.

As long as you’re following the law and being responsible for how it’s stored, carried, and used, there are lots of risks that can be mitigated when you keep a firearm in the car and it should be taken into consideration.

Related Questions

There are many laws regarding firearms and the safe carrying of them, including having one in your vehicle. To find out more about the responsible way to carry a weapon, read on for some FAQs that can give you a lesson in the basics.

Should I Open Carry or Concealed Carry?

The local and state laws in the US will dictate whether open or concealed carry is required for your firearm, but people tend to have their personal views as well.

Those for concealed carry prefer to be discreet about having a weapon whereas those who like open carrying believe it can reduce the chance of a crime occurring around them.

What is The Best Concealed Carry Position?

What is The Best Concealed Carry Position?

There are a few popular concealed carry positions that are used more than others, including inside or outside the waistband, appendix, or small of the back.

Each has its pros and cons, including comfort factor and ease of accessibility, so you should think about what matters most to you when carrying a gun.

Can You Keep Ammos and Guns in the Same Safe?

Guns should be unloaded and stored away separately from ammunition, and both need to be closed and locked in a safe or case so they can’t be accessed by anyone else.

The separation of the two reduces the chance that someone will be able to put ammunition in the gun, even if they manage to only open one of them.


Mathew R Reed

Mathew R Reed is a professional gun seller who runs a dedicated gun store in the suburbs of Oakland, CA. A hardcore hunting enthusiast since childhood, Reed has ample experience with guns and accessories. He is the founder of and creates some of the most helpful gun-buying guides and explainers. If not in the gun shop, you can find him on the nearest hiking trail or nearby hunting spot.