As a gun owner, you understand the importance of safety and responsibility. And as a responsible concealed carrier, you may be concerned with how to store your gun while traveling or commuting. Of course, the best option for self-defense would be to keep your gun on your person. But if you encounter “no-gun” signs while out and about, you’ll have to safely tuck your handgun away in your vehicle.
How to Concealed Carry a Gun in a Car
However, thefts of guns from cars is an ongoing problem. A significant number of guns sold illegally on the street were originally stolen from vehicles, including police cruisers. And in too many cases, the gun owners did not take even modest steps to protect their firearms, such as simply locking their cars. There are a few options to store your gun away safely and legally in your car should you need to.
One of the most common places to store a gun in a vehicle is the glove box. The glovebox of a vehicle is an easily accessible location in case of emergencies, but it should be locked for security. While it might seem like storing your concealed carry weapon in your glove box is the safest way to transport your firearm, it comes with risks. Most importantly, passengers can easily access it. Do you trust every person who rides in your car to handle a weapon? For example, a child can easily open your glove box and grab hold of a concealed carry firearm.
The size and shape of your firearm should be taken into consideration before choosing this option as well. If your gun is too large for the glove box, it may not fit properly or may be difficult to access quickly in an emergency.
If your car is broken into, a burglar can steal your concealed gun and use it to commit a crime. The first place a burglar searches is the glove box or center console where most valuables are stored. By not responsibly securing a gun at all times, you may be inadvertently contributing to crime.
Storing a gun in a glove box could also put your life at risk. If you get pulled over and reach for your registration and insurance, an officer could spot your gun. It could cause him or her to panic. The last thing you want is the officer to draw his or her gun because it appears you are reaching for a gun. Traffic stops are one of the most frequent and dangerous duties police officers perform. So officers have every reason to be on edge when they approach a vehicle. It’s best not to do anything that might heighten officers’ levels of concern.
For those of you who think you would never forget to mention to the officer that you have a concealed carry weapon in the glove box, don’t overestimate yourself. How many times have you tried to get into your car and forgot you left the keys on the kitchen counter? How about accidentally left your wallet in the car when you went into a store? We all have plenty on our minds these days. As well, some states have specific laws regarding the storage of firearms in glove boxes, so it’s important to check your local laws before using this method.
Another popular option for storing a gun in a vehicle is the center console. This is a convenient location that is easily accessible by the driver but again should be locked when you’re away from the vehicle. Similar to the glove box, the size and shape of your firearm should be taken into consideration before choosing this option. If your gun is too large for the console or interferes with other objects in the console, it may not be a safe or convenient option.
Locked Under the Seat
If you have a larger firearm that does not fit in your glove box or console, storing it under the seat in your vehicle may be a good option. This location is often overlooked by thieves and is a discreet location to store your gun. You can use a chain or the free cable lock that likely came with your gun to lock it to a piece of the seat that cannot be simply lifted to remove the gun.
With an unloaded gun, just run the cable through the gun and secure it to the car. Most car seats have steel supports that serve the purpose. Just be sure that it’s out of view or covered so you’re not offering up a theft temptation. Be sure to lock it using a part of the gun other than the trigger guard to be most secure. And keep in mind, this may not be the safest option in case of an emergency, as the gun may be difficult to access quickly.
If you don’t have enough cable or available attachment points to secure your handgun to your car, consider moving up to a portable gun box or safe. If your home state requires you to store your weapon and ammunition out of reach and in a separate location, a gun safe is the safest and most secure option.
The idea is to contain a loaded and ready firearm by locking it inside of a steel box. Some models offer slower key or combination access, while others are designed for rapid access using something like a fingerprint scanner. The advantage of a system like this is that you don’t have to load and unload your gun. You can protect against theft by attaching the entire lockbox to your vehicle.
Gun safes come in a range of sizes and can be installed in various locations in your vehicle, including the trunk or under a seat. Investing in a quality gun safe ensures that your firearm is not only secure but also protected against damage from external elements such as moisture or heat.
If you frequently travel with a firearm or drive for a large part of your day, you might consider a premium solution like the Console Vault. These units are model-specific and designed to be installed in the center console of your car or truck. There are no obvious visible signs of a lockbox, so unless you have other visible valuables in the car, there’s no reason for someone to believe there’s a gun present.
Before storing a gun in your vehicle, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations in your state. Some states have specific requirements for how guns should be stored in a vehicle, while others prohibit the storage of firearms in certain locations altogether. Be sure to research your state’s laws and comply with them to avoid any legal issues.
The laws about concealed carry in a vehicle are different in each state and can be rather confusing. Some states don’t even allow you to have a gun on your person while in your vehicle. But others require it to be on you at all times. For example, Wisconsin state law requires a handgun to be encased (in a transportation case), and not stashed in a glove box. How does the Badger State feel about you leaving your gun in your car? According to Grieve Law, “It depends on how you leave it in your car, where in your car you leave it, and where you park your car.”
Laws change every day, but, in most states, carry isn’t allowed within a school building of any kind. In some places, legislators have recognized that prohibiting carry, even on the property, effectively disallows carry anywhere and have adjusted laws accordingly. For example, in many places, you can leave your gun in the car while parked on school property or at least pass through the drop-off and pick-up area with a gun in the car.
Your work may be a challenge as well. If your employer doesn’t allow concealed carry in the workplace, you may have to make a choice between leaving your gun at home or storing it in the car while at work. Again, many states have adjusted laws to prevent employers from disallowing gun storage in the car.
Remembering all of these rules and regulations for each state is nearly impossible. That is why it is important to reference the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Reciprocity Map & Gun Laws by State. And best of all, it’s free to use.
There Are Better Options for Car Concealed Carry
While it may be legal in some states, concealing your firearm in a glove box comes with more risk than reward. If the state where you reside allows open carry of a loaded gun in a vehicle, you might want to consider a holster mount. This allows your gun to be positioned securely between your legs or fastened right under the car’s ignition.
Explore all of the options you have available for concealed carry in a car depending on the laws in your state. Either carry your firearm on your body, mount it to the upholstery or strap it to the seat with a specially designed holster mount. The closer you have it to you and the more secure it is, the better. If you are legally required to keep it stored in a container, choose a reliable gun safe.
Whether you choose to store it in your glove box, console, under the seat or in a gun safe, make sure that the location you choose is both safe and accessible in the event of an emergency. The important thing to remember is that securing your firearm, even when you have to leave it temporarily, is your responsibility. Think about your routine and invest time and money in the appropriate solution to make sure your firearm isn’t accessible to others. With the right knowledge and tools, you can ensure your firearm is stored safely and securely while traveling.
This article is a compilation of previous blog posts authored by Tom McHale, John Caile and Kevin Michalowski.