Transporting Firearms in California

Posted by Jessica Koenes on Apr 1st 2022

If you're a gun enthusiast in California, it's important to know the laws that surround transporting firearms. The Golden State has some very specific and unusual restrictions for carrying guns with open or concealed carry licenses

What does California's Penal Code 16850 entail about firearms transport? What is considered a locked container and who may possess the keys to unlock it.

Are you living in California and wondering about the legality of transporting your handgun? Well there are few givens that need to be considered first and foremost.

  1. Are you over 18?
  2. Are you a legal citizen in California or legally visiting California?
  3. Can you legally own a firearm?
  4. Is your firearm unloaded?
  5. Is your firearm in a locked case?
  6. Is the firearm legally yours?

If your answer is yes to all of the following questions, then you are in luck! According to California’s Penal Code section 25610, a United States citizen over 18 years of age who is not prohibited from firearm possession, and who resides or is temporarily in California, may transport by motor vehicle any handgun provided it is unloaded and locked in the vehicle’s trunk or in a locked container.

California has different regulations for transporting firearms based on whether they are considered a handgun, a shotgun/rifle, Let’s look at handgun regulations first.

Gun Enthusiast In California

pistol , by Ibropalic licensed under Pixabay


In California, make sure your handgun is in a locked container when you transport it to or from your vehicle. This is a requirement to stay in accordance with the Penal Code section 25610. To follow California's Penal Code 16850, the locked container needs to be fully enclosed and secured with a padlock that requires a key or a combination to unlock the case holding the firearm. You are not allowed to store your firearm in a glove compartment.


Shotguns and rifles fall under a different regulation within the state of California. Firearms that cannot be concealed fall under California’s Penal Code section 25400. Under this section, you are not required to have your firearm in a locked container for transportation if it is considered a “non-concealable” firearm. Firearms that cannot be concealed are shotguns, rifles, carbines, and submachine guns. In order to follow legal requirements for the transportation of a non concealed weapon, you still need to be over 18 years old as a legal citizen with legal documentation for your firearm, as well as making sure all bullets are out of the chamber of your weapon.


rifle, by WorldSpectrum licensed under Pixabay

What about Assault Weapons?

A federal judge overturned California’s ban on assault weapons on June 4th, 2021. The overturn was on the grounds that it violated the constitutional right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. Assault weapons remain illegal in California while the state appeals the ruling.

When traveling with an assault weapon, the requirement is still that the weapon is locked in a stored container and that the weapon is unloaded. To follow up on that, you can only transport an assault weapon from a licensed gun dealer, from a licensed gun repair shop, from the gun owner’s private property, from a firing range, from a firearm exhibition, from a shooting club, or from an organized project with proper documentation.


When you get down to the nitty gritty of it, the important focus for transportation is how you lock up the firearm in the proper storage. In order to ensure that you are in accordance with the law, make sure your firearm case has the proper padlock, keylock, combination lock or locking device.