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Biker and Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog

Transporting a Gun on Your Motorcycle.

California Motorycle Accident Lawyer Attorney Norman Gregory Fernandez discusses transporting firearms on a motorcycle.First off, I am not giving legal advice by this article. You should always check with a lawyer in your respective State on the issue of transporting a gun on a motorcycle or in another type of vehicle. If in doubt, call a lawyer!

Generally Bikers and Motorcyclist are allowed by law to transport a Gun on their motorcycle just like people in Cars or Cagers. I do not want to confuse the issue of transporting a gun, and carrying a gun, they are two different things.

Carrying a gun means that you have it on your person. This article does not cover carrying a gun on your person. The purpose of this article is to discuss the legality of transporting a gun on your motorcycle, especially when crossing State Lines.

There are generally two areas of law dealing with transporting guns in vehicles; Federal, and State Law. The vast majority of States will NOT let you transport a loaded gun in any type of vehicle without a permit, and MOST States have certain restrictions that are applicable to transporting guns in vehicles.

Federal Law generally states that; Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s
compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console. Code of Federal Regulations Title 18, Part I, Chapter 44, § 926a.

Basically, no State can prohibit all transportation of guns or firearms because it would be violative of Federal Law and the United States Constitution, however States are allowed to regulate how they are transported. A State can also restrict certain classes of persons from carrying or transporting firearms, such as persons convicted of a felony, persons with psychiatric conditions, and so forth.

So how do you legally transport a firearm on a motorcycle, especially if you are crossing State Lines? First off you must legally be able to possess a firearm in any jurisdiction that you are traveling in! It is safe to say that those who have been convicted of felonies, or have restraining orders preventing them from having firearms, already know that they should not be transporting a gun, and that it is probably illegal for them to do so. If you are in doubt, talk to a lawyer from your State or a State in which you are traveling in.

I recommend that if you are going to transport firearms on a motorcycle that you keep the firearm unloaded, and locked in a gun box or portable gun safe. If it is an automatic or semi-automatic weapon do not put any clips in the weapon and keep the breach or slide open if possible, even when it is locked in the box or safe. It if is a revolver, take the cylinder off of the weapon and lock the gun in the box.

With respect to clips and cylinders for your weapon, I recommend keeping them in a separate locked box, and make sure that no bullets or ammunition are in the cylinders or clips.

With respect to ammunition, I recommend keeping all ammunition in a third separate locked box or container.

Now you are thinking; how the hell do I carry all of this on my motorcycle. I recommend that you keep the gun in its locked container in one saddlebag, and the two separate locked boxes for your clips, cylinders, and ammunition in the opposite saddlebag. Now you are probably asking the question; what if I do not have saddlebags? The simple answer is that if you want to transport a firearm on your motorcycle safely without being arrested and going to jail, you better go out and get some, especially if you are traveling across State lines!

Finally there is the issue of security and liability for firearms in your saddlebags. I know that most saddlebags open and close with simple leather buckles. If someone were to open your saddlebags and steal your firearms, ammo, or clips and cylinders, you could be held liable for not adequately securing your weapons and ammo. If you can, get a locking saddlebag such as Leatherlyke’s or the hard type of bags that I have on my Harley Davidson Electra Glide. There are also special locking straps on certain types of saddlebags, or you can take your bags to a Shoe Repair or Leather Tailor to custom manufacture a locking strap for your saddlebags.

I know that there are many of you in certain States that are probably thinking; “I don’t have to worry about this in my State.” If you know the law of your State and you are not going to be traveling or crossing across State lines, than follow the law of your State.

As for me, I regularly ride across State lines, and I always error on the side of caution. The gist of interstate travel with firearms is that you are not supposed to be able to get at the weapon or ammunition so you can shoot someone. Look at the Federal Law above! Many of you are thinking; “what good is it if I cannot get to my firearm in a moments notice?” This is not the point of this article! The point of this article is how to legally transport a gun on your motorcycle.

With respect to the right of all Americans to bear arms for self defense, hunting, target practice, etc. I am a 2nd Amendment man all of the way. Unfortunately in most if not many States, guns are highly regulated.

So if you are going to be traveling across State Lines with firearms on a motorcycle protect yourself.

By Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq., © 2007

35 Responses to Transporting a Gun on Your Motorcycle.

  1. Great topic that we need to know about. Could you write anything about transporting a firearm across state lines if you have a concealed carry license?

  2. How’s it going Norm?
    I was wondering if a steel strand cable with a padlock like those for bicycle locking use would be legal if it was passed through the cylinder and/or barrel? seems it would take up a lot less space.

  3. As I now remember, a zippered canvas pistol pouch with rings on the zipper for a luggage padlock was legal at one time in Ca. I wonder if it still is?

    Also, does a trigger lock constitute a legal locked condition?

  4. Hi Mr. Fernandez – xclnt site. Thx for bringing it to us. I’m just a common man (Sovereign) living and working in California state who has taken some time to read statutes / crt decisions. I remember a judge once saying ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse’. So in keeping w/ our founding fathers (excersing my fundamental Right of free speech of law and crt decisions) here’s a little of what I’m found regarding the term ‘person’ listed.

    The word “person” in legal terminology is perceived as a general word which normally includes in its scope a variety of entities ‘other than human beings’. See 1 U.S.C. sec 1 also Church of Scientolgy v. U.S. Dept of Justice (1979) 612F.2d 417, 425

    “A Sovereign is exempt from suit, not because of any formal conception or obsolete theory, but on the logical and practical ground that there can be no legal Right as against the authority that makes the law on which the Right depends.” Kawananakoa v. Polyblank, 205 U.S. 349, 353, 27 S. Ct. 526, 527, 51 L. Ed. 834 (1907).

    And the United States Supreme Court held, that “in common usage, the term “person” does not include the Sovereign, statutes employing the person are ordinarily construed to exclude the Sovereign.” Wilson v. Omaha Tribe, 442 U.S. 653, 667 (1979) (quoting United States v. Cooper Corp., 312 U.S. 600, 604 (1941)). See also United States v. Mine Workers, 330 U.S. 258, 275 (1947).

    Hope this helps.

  5. So would you recomend obtaining a CCW if I have no intentions to cross state lines on my bike with my weapon and I have no saddle bags? I am a Florida resident in the military stationed in California and a have a Florida permit. How easy is it to get one in California?

  6. Greg,

    Thank you for the advice. I am taking a trip on my bike from NH to Sturgis for a day, then touring around S. Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, & Utah for the entire month of August. I will visit, photograph and keep a daily journal of my experiences and impressions of our national parks and monuments. I am a teacher and don’t want to be busted, but I also don’t want to be victimized by wackos since I will be camping and alone. I will carry a firearm w/the clips and ammo as you suggest.

    Semper Fidelis,


  7. Norm,

    I passed right over the Norman. After I sent the email, I noticed your first name.

    Semper Fi

    Bob Thomson

  8. Gun Safe for Motorcycles found!

    I just found several potential solutions for transporting handguns on motorcycles. A company in California is selling several variations of mobile handgun safes that have application for securing handguns. 1) they have a steel vault that is made specifically for Harley Davidson Saddle Bags. The safe is made from 12 gauge steel, and is available in a key or combo lock. The interesting part of the safe, is that it also locks the saddle bag down, so you can’t steel that either. 2) they have a flexible safe that has a security cable attached so you can lock the handgun in the safe, then lock the safe down with an attached steel cable. Go to http://www.corporatetravelsafety.com and look at the firearm, motorcycle, and travel safe sections. I have never seen a gun safe for motorcycles before.

  9. Every state from the East coast to Texas, south of and including states along I-40 have a reciprocal agreement with each other to honor each others concealed carry permits. This is the best way, if you have a clean record, and it takes the worry out of yout trip. You can carry it anywhere and not worry about it. Go to your attorney general website and find the link to handguns. All the info is there listing states that have agreements with your state. I know because I just got a CCP and checked it out for a bike trip I am taking to New Mexico. New Mexico I am not sure about but they do not seem to have a law specifically against it. The 30 states I know that have reciprocal agreements are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indian, Kansas, Kentucky, La, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, NH, ND, Ohio, Ok, Penn, SC, SD, Tenn, Tex, Utah, Va, Wash and West Va.

  10. I don’t know whether these guys will sell to “normal” people, but take a look at this motorcycle hard case with electronic weapon lock:

    (Click on the “ELS-285″)

    Also, I wonder if the ELS-270 would mount on the handlebars…(obviously I’d not try to leave Montana if I had my DPMS LR308 across the handlebars :) )

    Thanks for the link!

  11. What about long arms? I only have a shotgun and frequently go to my gun club. I no longer have a car and only have my motorcycle. How do I transport the shotgun?

  12. Norm, I am in the prosses of manufacturing a gun safe for motorcycles. It will mount on the handlebars or if you don’t have open handlebars it can be bolted in to a trunk. Law in Texas it’s legal to transport loaded, without CHL, if you are allowed to own a gun and are not commiting a crime other than miner driving violation. Ron in Texas will have website soon Kodiak Lock Box

  13. Great article. I finally found a job but had to move as I told you and Sandie earlier. seems to be finally working out. Thanks for the advice.

  14. The gun does not have to be locked to transport it, I just recommend it. I use a hard case myself, but a pouch would work too.

    The idea is the the gun, ammo, clips and/or cylinders cannot be readily accessible from your riding position and they must be separated!

    To error on the side of caution I would follow the recommendations I put in the article.

    • Web site underconstruction, but, in Texas you can carry a hand gun on your bike without a license and it can be ready to shoot. The gun has to be concealed from view, but not out of reach. I have a provisional patent on a gunsafe that will mount to handlebar and has barrel key lock, or 3 digit combo dial lock. rallen361@gmail.com

  15. My article was related to transporting a gun on your motorcycle, especially across State lines. It is not about obtaining a CCW in California. However, I will respond to your comments.

    California will not honor your CCW permit from Florida. If you want to obtain a CCW in California, you will have to apply through the Sheriff of the County in which you live. In certain counties in California it is almost impossible to get one, in other counties it is easy. It all depends on which county you live in.

    You may be able to get the application online from the Sheriff of the county in California where you live.

    Good luck,


  16. Thanks for the info Mark.

    I am again reiterating that my article was not intended to discuss carrying a weapon on your person or the CCW issue. Furthermore, I would do some serious research before I would or could recommend to anyone that it is OK to carry a gun on your person, across State lines, because a website says it is OK to do so. You could end up in jail or prison due to a blunder!

    I would recommend that if you intend to travel across State lines with a CCW from let’s say State “X,” that you consult with a lawyer in each State in which you want to travel with a State “X” CCW, to determine whether that particular State will honor your CCW. It is better to be safe than sorry.


  17. Long arms are a tricky subject. You should be able to carry it with the breach open, and in a locked soft or hard case, with ammo in a separate saddlebag not readily accessible, but you and I both know that you will probably get harassed by law enforcement. Your best bet is to check with an attorney in the areas where you are traveling.


    • Norman, I made 3 handle bar mounted aluminum gun safes, and showed them at a local gun show but there wasn’t enough interest in them to continue building them . I had them hand made at welding shop and had had o’ring grove machined in box for tight seal. The cost of each was around $300.00. If I would have had more interest or an investor, I would have had them cast with minimal machining which would bring cost well under $200.00. I have the drawings and pic of safe on my bike if anyone is interested in investing or purchasing provisional patent .

  18. Good info, thanks. Trying to figure out how I can legally transport my shotgun on my bike. I don’t have bags…

    BFMC, SoCal

    • That is a tough one Joe, especially if you want to ride with your cut on. In California you should be able to put a shotgun on a rack and transport it on your bike so long as it is not loaded. You will probably get stopped, but it should not be illegal.

      Here is the law of California courtesy of CaliforniaOpenCarry.org.

      California Open Carry
      This document is an abridged list of all relevant California laws for citizens who do not have a CCW permit but otherwise choose
      to legally carry or transport firearms. Most of the information here is copied directly from the Penal Code.
      12025. (a) A person is guilty of carrying a concealed firearm when he or she does any of the following:
      (1) Carries concealed within any vehicle which is under his or her control or direction any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of
      being concealed upon the person.
      (2) Carries concealed upon his or her person any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.
      (f) Firearms carried openly in belt holsters are not concealed within the meaning of this section.
      12026. (a) Section 12025 shall not apply to or affect any citizen of the United States or legal resident over the age of 18 years who resides
      or is temporarily within this state … who carries, either openly or concealed, anywhere within the citizen’s or legal resident’s place of
      residence, place of business, or on private property owned or lawfully possessed by the citizen or legal resident any pistol, revolver, or
      other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person.
      (b) No permit or license to purchase, own, possess, keep, or carry, either openly or concealed, shall be required of any citizen of the United
      States or legal resident over the age of 18 years who resides or is temporarily within this state … to purchase, own, possess, keep, or carry,
      either openly or concealed, a pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the person within the citizen’s or legal
      resident’s place of residence, place of business, or on private property owned or lawfully possessed by the citizen or legal resident.
      (c) Nothing in this section shall be construed as affecting the application of Section 12031.
      As long as one complies with 12025 (does not conceal), and 12031 (does not load the firearm under most circumstances), and
      avoids the other pitfalls (detailed on page 2), then he/she is legally open carrying, and sections 12026.1 and 12026.2 are
      unnecessary. However, quite often open carry is not practical or desired, or is restricted due to other obscure laws (see page 2),
      so an understanding of 12026.1 and 12026.2 is important.
      12026.1 and 12026.2 are almost always misinterpreted, and in many ways. The most common misinterpretation is that these
      sections are restrictions. They are not. They are exemptions to 12025. You cannot be charged with 12026.x, only 12025. When
      you transport your firearms concealed (openly is legal) you must use one of the 12026.x exemptions.
      The second common mistake is confusing or combining 12026.1 and 12026.2. 12026.1 simply states that 12025 does not apply
      when transporting a handgun in a motor vehicle’s trunk, or in a locked container in or to/from a motor vehicle. There are no
      location or deviation restrictions in 12026.1. 12026.2 is another (separate) list of exemptions to 12025, all but one of which
      (motion picture) are transporting exemptions. Unlike 12026.1, 12026.2 is not specific to motor vehicles. It can therefore be
      applied to all other forms of transportation, e.g., walking, bicycling, public transportation. Unlike 12026.1, 12026.2 does limit the
      transport exemptions from any unnecessary deviations.
      Another common misconception is the belief that ammunition cannot be stored in the same case as a firearm, or that it must be
      locked up separately somehow. This is not true. There is no code to support this myth. See the second page of this flyer for
      more information about loaded firearms.
      12026.1. (a) Section 12025 shall not be construed to prohibit any citizen of the United States over the age of 18 years who resides or is
      temporarily within this state … from transporting or carrying any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon the
      person, provided that the following applies to the firearm:
      (1) The firearm is within a motor vehicle and it is locked in the vehicle’s trunk or in a locked container in the vehicle other than the utility
      or glove compartment.
      (2) The firearm is carried by the person directly to or from any motor vehicle for any lawful purpose and, while carrying the firearm, the
      firearm is contained within a locked container.
      (b) The provisions of this section do not prohibit or limit the otherwise lawful carrying or transportation of any pistol, revolver, or other
      firearm capable of being concealed upon the person in accordance with this chapter.
      (c) As used in this section, “locked container” means a secure container which is fully enclosed and locked by a padlock, key lock,
      combination lock, or similar locking device.
      12026.2. (a) Section 12025 does not apply to, or affect, any of the following: … (1) through (20) omitted from this document.
      (b) In order for a firearm to be exempted under subdivision (a), while being transported to or from a place, the firearm shall be unloaded,
      kept in a locked container, as defined in subdivision (d), and the course of travel shall include only those deviations between authorized
      locations as are reasonably necessary under the circumstances.
      (c) This section does not prohibit or limit the otherwise lawful carrying or transportation of any pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of
      being concealed upon the person in accordance with this chapter.
      (d) As used in this section, “locked container” means a secure container which is fully enclosed and locked by a padlock, keylock,
      combination lock, or similar locking device. The term “locked container” does not include the utility or glove compartment of a motor
      Note: PC 12025 and 12026 apply only to concealed handguns. There are no restrictions on carrying rifles or shotguns in
      these sections. They can be transported unlocked, openly or concealed. However 12031 and other restrictions do apply.
      CaliforniaOpenCarry.org http://www.californiaopencarry.org/CaliforniaOpenCarry.pdf revision 2/24/10
      California Open Carry, continued
      12031. (a) (1) A person is guilty of carrying a loaded firearm when he or she carries a loaded firearm on his or her
      person or in a vehicle while in any public place or on any public street in an incorporated city or in any public place or
      on any public street in a prohibited area of unincorporated territory.
      (e) In order to determine whether or not a firearm is loaded for the purpose of enforcing this section, peace officers are
      authorized to examine any firearm carried by anyone on his or her person or in a vehicle while in any public place or on
      any public street in an incorporated city or prohibited area of an unincorporated territory. Refusal to allow a peace officer
      to inspect a firearm pursuant to this section constitutes probable cause for arrest for violation of this section.
      (f) As used in this section, “prohibited area” means any place where it is unlawful to discharge a weapon. *
      (g) A firearm shall be deemed to be loaded for the purposes of this section when there is an unexpended cartridge or
      shell in, or attached in any manner to, the firearm, including, but not limited to, in the firing chamber, magazine, or clip
      thereof attached to the firearm. **
      (h) Nothing in this section shall prevent any person engaged in any lawful business, including a nonprofit organization, or
      any officer, employee, or agent authorized by that person for lawful purposes connected with that business, from having a
      loaded firearm within the person’s place of business, or any person in lawful possession of private property from having a
      loaded firearm on that property.
      (l) Nothing in this section shall prevent any person from having a loaded weapon, if it is otherwise lawful, at his or her
      place of residence, including any temporary residence or campsite.
      * Most counties have ordinances prohibiting shooting near roads, residences, etc. This effectively makes carrying loaded illegal in
      all but the most remote areas of unincorporated territory.
      ** In “People v. Clark” (1996), the California Court of Appeal clarified that in order to be “loaded” a firearm must have
      ammunition “placed into a position from which it can be fired”. It even went so far as to point out as an example of what is not
      loaded to include shells attached to a shotgun inside a buttstock shell carrier.
      ** There is a common misconception that merely possessing both a firearm and ammunition in close proximity legally equates to
      loaded. This mistake stems from several PC sections that do not apply to the law-abiding gun owner. 12001(j) only applies to
      12023 (carry with intent to commit a felony). 12021.5 only applies to street gang crimes as defined in 186.22. 12022.2 only
      applies to armor piercing ammunition. 12025(b)(6)(A) is a sentence enhancement which only applies if one violates 12025
      (carrying concealed). 171e only applies inside the State Capitol, legislative offices, or office or residence of the Governor.
      In an emergency, 12031 includes additional limited exceptions, where loading is permitted:
      (j) (1) Nothing in this section is intended to preclude the carrying of any loaded firearm, under circumstances where it would otherwise be
      lawful, by a person who reasonably believes that the person or property of himself or herself or of another is in immediate, grave danger
      and that the carrying of the weapon is necessary for the preservation of that person or property. As used in this subdivision, “immediate”
      means the brief interval before and after the local law enforcement agency, when reasonably possible, has been notified of the danger and
      before the arrival of its assistance.
      (k) Nothing in this section is intended to preclude the carrying of a loaded firearm by any person while engaged in the act of making or
      attempting to make a lawful arrest.
      Other Restrictions:
      171 b,c,d Cannot carry in any state or local public building or at any legislative meeting required to be open to the public. Cannot carry in the
      State Capitol, legislative offices, office of the Governor, Governor’s residence, etc.
      626.9 Cannot carry “in a place that the person knows, or reasonably should know” is within 1000 feet of a K-12 school. Must be transported
      unloaded in a locked case or vehicle trunk. Cannot carry on the grounds of a university without written permission.
      36 CFR 2.4 (a) Effective February 22, 2010, the Coburn Amendment (s512 of HR627) forces the National Parks to allow possession and carry of
      firearms in the Parks. However, in California, the Park Service believes that 36 CFR 2.4 (a) (iii) (prohibits the use of firearms) still applies, and that
      it triggers 12031(f) and therefore loading is not legal. While this appears to violate the intent of the Coburn Amendment, it would be wise to only
      carry unloaded at this time in the National Parks (accept in one’s campsite, where 12031 does not apply).
      CCR Title 14, Div 3, Chap 1, s 4313 (a) Cannot carry in a State Park. However firearms may be possessed within temporary lodging or a vehicle
      when unloaded and “packed, cased, or stored in a manner that will prevent their ready use.”
      39 CFR 232.1 (l) Cannot carry on U.S. Postal Service property.
      49 CFR 1540.111 and PC 171.5 Cannot carry in “sterile areas” (areas where access is controlled by security screening) of airports.
      Local Laws: Cities and counties may have there own limits on possession or use of firearms. However these local laws cannot legally preempt
      State law. Contact your local government or local law enforcement agencies to determine what these limits may be.
      National Forest and BLM: On these federal lands firearms are generally permitted, if carried and used in a safe manner, and if the users comply
      with state and county laws. Most of these lands qualify as “unincorporated territory”, but there are some restrictions on shooting (near structures,
      developed areas, roads, bodies of water) so 12031(f) applies in these areas. Check with your local ranger station for any other local restrictions.

  19. going on a trip from az. to kanas ,gun unloaded ,ammmo,in other saddle bag,does both have to be in a lock box ,or locked down in saddle bags,ive carried in past ,gun in one ammo in other with no problems butt i dont need trouble , i have a lock in bag to lock gun in ,but nothing for ammo any thought would help as i plan on camping a lot thanks daryl

    • You should be OK if you have your gun locked in one bag, and the ammo in the other saddlebag. The big issue is accessibility. If I were you I would call an attorney in each state you are traveling in and see what they have to say.


  20. hi did some checking into states im crossing through and most want gun in one bag,ammmo in other that you cant open while operating bike ,2 states want ammmo locked also,ammo not in clips also , thank for information it help me alot and im still taking my gun

  21. good coverage of handguns, but what about long guns? in my van, i have carried up to 4 tactical rifles, & shotguns. but on the bike, it would only be one or two. still havent figured out safe mode of mounting, & carry. anyhelp would be appreciated. note thes would most likely be carried in state only on the bike,(florida), and i do have a concealed permit. thanks for the outstanding article


  23. Hello I know no one has recently visited this subject. I am a tennessee licensed gun permit holder. I don’t ride a Harley, I’m more of a super sport street bike rider. While most times you know there are not many of us traveling long periods of time on our bikes. I live by two state lines AR and MS. Usually there are no saddle bag on these bikes how do you recommend travel for our type of bikes.

  24. The motorcycle is a motor vehicle. The interstate transportation law is clearly stated.The gun has to be unloaded. No taking apart needed.Bullets and gun could be in the same case which does not need a lock if you put it in your LOCKABLE trunk. If you have a non-lockable saddle then the gun has to be in a lockable case.

    Yeah if you feel safer take the gun apart in a million pieces and transport one at a time.

  25. First off thank you for the very informative writing. I will definitely follow your recommendations on my motorcycle trip to and from Tenn.
    Secondly I would like to comment as I have to the NRA when I stopped paying my dues. They, the NRA have done nothing that permits us to protect ourselves or our families throughout the USA while traveling, ie: Federal LTC or a reciprocal agreement in ALL 50 States.
    I have a LTC Large Capacity in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts which most likely has the most stringent weapon carry laws in the US. I would think that a good enough reason for ALL states to accept my LTC.
    Thank you

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