That’s enormously frustrating. People with concealed carry permits can travel with their weapons concealed in their vehicles. If you do not hold a permit, weapons cannot be concealed in the vehicle. So, if law enforcement pulls you over and you are not the holder of a concealed carry permit, you must make sure your weapon cannot be considered concealed.
Unfortunately, the decision about whether to ticket you is up to the individual officer. That officer gets to decide whether or not your weapon was concealed and whether it was easily accessible to you or a passenger.
Are there any standards for what counts as concealed in a vehicle?
Yes, and you have the right to defend yourself. You should consider doing so, as a violation of your concealed carry permit can mean the permit will be revoked.
According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, a handgun is considered to be concealed in a vehicle when it cannot be readily seen by a person approaching and is readily accessible to someone in the vehicle.
The department specifically states that a gun tucked under your front seat or in an unlocked glove compartment is illegal.
What is the legal way to transport a weapon?
There are two legal ways to transport a weapon in your vehicle without a concealed carry permit: 1) openly or 2) in a locked case or trunk. The North Carolina Department of Justice recommends against carrying a weapon in your glove box, regardless of whether it has a lock. The officer might not consider that open console truly open and unconcealed.
If your vehicle doesn’t have a trunk, don’t assume that storing your weapon in the hatchback is sufficient. If someone in your vehicle could get to that weapon, it could be considered concealed and readily available.
Openly carrying your weapon is risky. A law enforcement officer may not quickly conclude you are a concealed carry permit holder. They may perceive a threat.
Therefore, if you are pulled over while carrying a weapon that is not in the trunk or a locked case, you should put the gun on the dashboard where the officer will see it immediately, open your window and put your hands on the steering wheel. Then, when the officer approaches, state that you are legally carrying a weapon. Remain with your hands visible on the steering wheel until the officer sees and acknowledges the weapon
One final note: remember that your concealed carry permit does not allow you to carry when you have consumed alcohol or drugs. Doing so could result in charges and the revocation of your permit.
If you have been ticketed for unlawfully transporting a deadly weapon, be sure you consult with an attorney who will go the extra mile to protect your rights.