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How to Safely Transport Firearms in California

By San Diego Attorney on May 5, 2020

Moving can be stressful enough without having to worry about being arrested. While it is legal to own weapons on private property in California, when it comes to transporting them, specific rules apply under the law. You must understand how to safely transport firearms to avoid criminal charges.

How Does California Law Treat Weapons in Vehicles?

Under California Penal Code Section 25610, transporting a handgun is not prohibited for a U.S. citizen over the age of 18 who resides or is temporarily within the state, provided:

  • The firearm is unloaded within a motor vehicle, locked in the trunk or a locked container in the vehicle; and
  • The firearm is carried directly to or from the motor vehicle for a lawful purpose in a locked container.

In this context, locked containers must be fully enclosed and held shut with a lock. The trunk of the vehicle can serve as a locked container for transporting a firearm, but not a utility or glove compartment. When the vehicle has no trunk, as with a pickup truck, the gun should be in a locked container inside the vehicle. An RV or motorhome is treated as a motor vehicle, and the same requirements apply.

Rifles, Shotguns, and Registered Assault Weapons

Shotguns and rifles are non-concealable weapons and are not required to be transported in a locked container. However, they cannot be loaded while they are being transported in California. Registered assault weapons may be transported, but only between specified locations, and they must be unloaded and stored in a locked container.

When Are You Allowed to Transport a Firearm?

Carrying a handgun in your car, even in a locked container, is only permitted for the purpose of transporting the firearm from one specific location to another. Examples of such situations include going to the shooting range, going hunting, or moving from one residence to another. It is illegal to carry a firearm without a permit for general purposes, such as self-defense, even if the gun is in a locked container in your car.

What Could Happen If You Transport a Firearm Incorrectly in California?

Improperly transporting a firearm could lead to various criminal charges under California gun laws, including:

  • Carrying a concealed weapon
  • Carrying a loaded firearm
  • Unlawful possession of an assault weapon

Most criminal charges involving possession of firearms in California are wobblers, which can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, at the discretion of the prosecutor. Misdemeanor gun possession charges can carry penalties upon conviction of up to one year in county jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Conviction of felony firearm possession charges can mean up to three years in jail and fines of up to $1,000.

If you are facing criminal charges for incorrectly transporting firearms, contact jD LAW, P.C. at (760) 630-2000 right away. Our lead San Diego criminal defense attorney is a former LAPD investigator and a certified criminal defense specialist who has worked in the field of criminal law for more than 30 years. He has the knowledge and skills to help you pursue the most favorable outcome in your case.

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Posted in: Traffic Stops

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