Penal Code, section 25400 prohibits carrying concealed in any vehicle any firearm capable of being concealed upon the person. Any person who has control or direction over the vehicle will be responsible. Any occupant of the vehicle is also prohibited from carrying a concealed weapon in the vehicle.

A person who is over the age of 18 and is not prohibited from possessing firearms may carry an unloaded, concealed handgun inside a motor vehicle that is in a public place when it is in an appropriate “locked container” or while being carried directly to or from a motor vehicle in such a container “for any lawful purpose.” (Penal Code,§ 26060; 2561 0(a); People v. Marotta (1981) 128 Cal.App.3d Supp. 1; _People v. Wooten (1985) 168 Cal.App.3d 168.)


A “locked container” means a secure container that is fully enclosed and locked by a padlock, key lock, combination lock, or similar locking device. A “locked container” also includes a locked trunk of a vehicle, but does not include a vehicle’s “utility or glove compartment” even if it is locked. (Penal Code, § 16850, 2561 0(a)(I).)

The law does not define “utility compartment”. Because this is a gray area of the law, you should not transport a handgun in the vehicle’s center console or in the storage area behind the rear seat in most “hatchback” type automobiles. It is not advised to use the various storage compartments found in today’s popular sport utility vehicles. While most of us would consider a cross-bed toolbox in a pickup truck to be the functional equivalent to a vehicle’s trunk, it could be considered a “utility compartment” where a firearm could not be legally stored. To be safe, carry the gun in a locked container inside the tool box.

Even if your vehicle has a locked trunk, you should still use an appropriate “locked container” that is solely for transporting your handgun. If you need to open the trunk, the container could then be considered “unlocked”, violating the concealed and/or open carry restrictions. (Penal Code, § 25400, 26350)

The best way to be sure you are in compliance with the law, the locked container should have hard sides even though the law does not specifically require it.


You need to store your weapon and ammunition separately in containers. If the weapon and ammunition are stored in the same container, law enforcement may find the weapon is ready for firing. (People v. Clark 1996) 45 Cal.App.4th 1147, 1154.)


For the unloaded and locked transportation exemption to apply, the course of travel shall include only those purposes and destinations listed in the Penal Code, § 25510-25595. We will discuss these restrictions soon.