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You’re out running some errands. You have to go into a Post Office. You’re carrying a firearm, as usual. What do you do?

If you carry every day, assuming you have a license to do so (unless you’re in Arizona or another Constitutional Carry state), you’re bound to encounter a situation where you need to visit a place that is not carry-friendly. Any type of government building, post office, (most) universities, or any business that has posted “no weapons” signs are off limits for us concealed carry folks.

Some people may carry anyway, as long as there aren’t metal detectors or x-ray machines at the entrance, and ignore the signs and carry anyway (bad idea). But as responsible citizens who obey the laws regardless of the actual risk of detection, there are two options;

1.) ditch the heater in the car, or

2.) don’t patronize the establishments that ban weapons.

If option 2 is not an option, option 1 is required. [NB: be sure to know your local laws on vehicle firearm storage] The tricky part is handling a loaded handgun while in your car.

Remember the Four Rules of Gun Safety

The rules of holstering and un-holstering a weapon are the same wherever you are; home, car, bathroom, range, wherever

  1. Treat all guns as if they are loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle of a gun point at anything you do not want to destroy or kill.
  3. Keep your finger straight and off the trigger.
  4. Be absolutely sure of your target and what’s behind it.

With this in mind, what is the most effective and safe way to remove and store a loaded handgun in your car?

How To Remove Your Gun

Depending on what you’re driving, unholstering a gun safely may require different techniques for different cars. Sitting in a Corvette will require a different method than sitting in a truck. Is it best to remain seated? Should you open the door, put your legs out, then unholster? Is it better to stand just outside of the car between the door and the car and unholster from a standing position? It depends.

However you decide to unholster your weapon, do it slowly and carefully, observing the four rules.

Keep it Holstered

Likely the best option for removing a gun from your body while in a car: wear a holster that can be removed from your hip without having to remove the gun from the holster. Unless you have to thread your belt through the holster, removing the holster with the gun inside it may be the best way to avoid having an uncovered trigger-guard in a relatively awkward position.

If you have to unholster your gun, make sure the muzzle doesn’t cover ANYTHING you wouldn’t want shot.

No Lasering Yourself or Others

If you’re of the mindset that you get uncomfortable at a gun store while looking at shiny, new firearms in such close proximity to other people, and when muzzles tend to fly in all directions while examining a gun, removing a loaded gun from your hip while in the cab of a car or truck is just plain taboo.

If it has to be done, do it in such a manner that you’re not covering anything living with the muzzle. Having a routine for unholstering in a car should already be in place before having to do it when there’s a round in the chamber. Practice with an unloaded gun. Be aware of all body parts of yourself and others, including your legs and feet.

Proper Storage

Storing a loaded handgun in a vehicle, when stored properly shouldn’t be a big safety problem. However you decide to do it, be comfortable with it. For instance, if you simply put your piece in a glovebox or a center console compartment while you’re away from your vehicle, if your car was broken into, would the gun be out on the streets along with your ipod?

There are a few companies out there that make lockable steel containers that come with steel cables that can be tethered to your seat frame. They’re fairly inexpensive and would probably raise your comfort level when faced with having to leave your gun in your car. As Robert Farago says, unless your gun is on your hip, keep it locked up. You’re responsible for your own weapon, so don’t take leaving it out of your sight lightly.

Replacing Your Weapon On Your Person

All of the above considerations should be observed when it comes to the four rules and exacting muzzle control. When you get back in your car and are ready to put your gun back on, again, have a routine that makes doing so absolutely safe. If putting an In the Waist Band (IWB) holster back on is a tricky affair while seated, practice practice practice. You’re better off to have a safe but slightly awkward routine than to not carry.

Many people train for various self-defense situations. It is only being responsible to train for various carrying, or no-carrying situations too.

28 Responses to What You Do When Your Gun is Un-Welcome

    • Check your local laws. Many states allow for vehicle storage and impose penalties for policies that forbid vehicle storage. Some statutes can be tricky to understand. For instance, here in Oklahoma, you can store a firearm in an unattended vehicle in a federal building’s parking lot, but you can’t store a firearm in a vehicle that is on school or university property (parking lots included) if the vehicle is unattended. Do your research before getting in the situation. Again, YMMV…

      • Aaron, I agree with you about storing firearms in vehicles on public school campuses, butI think you are incorrect about the vehicle storage on universities.

        Under title 21 & 1277 Unlawful Carry in Certain Places.
        D. No person in possession of any concealed handgun pursuant to the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act shall be authorized to carry the handgun into or upon any college or university property, except as provided in this subsection. For purposes of this subsection, the following property shall not be construed as prohibited for persons having a valid concealed handgun license:
        1. Any property set aside for the use of any vehicle, whether attended or unattended, provided the
        handgun is carried or stored as required by law and the handgun is not removed from the vehicle without the prior consent of the college or university president while the vehicle is on any college or university property;

        ============
        Which means if you have a valid CCL, you CAN bring your concealed firearm on campus. You just can’t take it out of your vehicle.
        ============
        Also the Mary Fallin just signed a similar law for VoTech Campuses that goes into effect November 1, 2011.
        HB 1652.

        ====================
        She also signed HB 1439 Castle Doctrine for Businesses, but
        that’s besides the point.

        • Yes, but…
          Section 1280.1 of title 21 sub section A says:
          “It shall be unlawful for any person to have in his or her possession on any public or private school property or while in any school bus or vehicle used by any school for transportation of students or teachers any firearm or weapon designated in Section 1272 of this title, except as provided in subsection C of this section or as otherwise authorized by law.

          Sub section C says:
          “Firearms and weapons are allowed on school property and deemed not in violation of subsection A of this section as follows:

          1. A gun or knife designed for hunting or fishing purposes kept in a privately owned vehicle and properly displayed or stored as required by law, or a handgun carried in a vehicle pursuant to a valid handgun license authorized by the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act, provided such vehicle containing said gun or knife is driven onto school property only to transport a student to and from school and such vehicle does not remain unattended on school property;”

          So I agree with what you pointed out, but the law also says you can’t. This sort of conflict between different laws, presumably written at different times, makes it tricky. So like I said, your mileage may vary. I’m not a lawyer, yet, but I wouldn’t put all my eggs in one basket of the law, if you know what I mean…

        • Aaron, this is not a critique of your article. I think it is great. To be clear on that.

          And to address that, I would like to add a law, just to be sure, that if I were injured or shot at a location (public or private) that forbade me to carry my firearm, that I should be allowed to sue them in civil court till they go bankrupt. Maybe I could do that now.

          However, I do not see any conflict between 1277 D and 1280 B.

          1277 D. refers to Colleges and Universities.

          1280 refers to public or private “schools” which are defined in Subsection B, Elementary, Secondary, and Votech. Not universities.

          So I believe the statement still stands. You can still bring a concealed firearm on a university campus, it just can’t leave your vehicle.

          And come Nov 1 when HB1652 goes online,
          it will be legal to store your CC firearm in your vehicle on Votech Campuses. If this were going to be a problem, I’m sure the legislature would have taken care of that too.

          I know we have some older laws on the books, but I don’t see any contradictions or conflicts between them, yet.

      • I’m not a lawyer but, I believe the OK law says you can.

        Title 21 & 1277 Unlawful Carry in Certain Places.
        B. For purposes of paragraphs 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 of subsection A of this section, the prohibited place does not include and specifically excludes the following property:
        1. Any property set aside for the use of any vehicle, whether attended or unattended, by a city, town, county, state, or federal governmental authority,

        Also read the new HB 1652 tweaks this wording.
        1. Any property set aside for the use or parking of any vehicle, whether attended or unattended, by a city, town, county, state, or federal governmental authority;
        ===============
        2. Any property set aside for the use or parking of any vehicle, whether attended or unattended, by any entity offering any professional sporting event which is open to the public for admission, or by any entity engaged in pari-mutuel wagering authorized by law;
        ======================
        I don’t know how this changes anything, but by my understanding of the language, you CAN wear your Concealed Firearm on Post Office property. You just can’t take it out of your vehicle.

        If their are any OK Lawyers who disagree, please inform me.

        • It depends where the post office is located. If it is in a strip mall where the post office does not control the parking lot, then state/local laws apply. But if it is a free-standing building with it’s own parking lot, then Federal laws apply.

          39 CFR 232.1(l):
          Weapons and explosives. Notwithstanding
          the provisions of any other
          law, rule or regulation, no person while
          on postal property may carry firearms,
          other dangerous or deadly weapons, or
          explosives, either openly or concealed,
          or store the same on postal property,
          except for official purposes.

          My understanding is that leaving it in your vehicle would be considered storing it on postal property. Now there may only be a one-in-a-million chance of getting caught, just remember, since it’s Federal, it’s a felony.

  1. This is a sticky one for me. Maybe its because of places I’ve lived, but I have the mindset that nothing is ever secure in a vehicle, period. I do not feel comfortable leaving a gun unattended in one. Makes carrying impractical much of the time.

  2. That is a difficult topic…. You want to practice and fully embrace the lifestyle of the armed citizen and yet there are places where carrying seems to be a fearful event even though no one may know.
    I leave my pistol in my vehicle when I am at work… However, there have been zero occurrences of people breaking into vehicles in this area AND I park my truck right outside the window of my office. I feel like this is a low risk situation.
    I guess the better option would be to invest in such a lockbox that was mentioned in the article.

  3. I practice a mix of options 1 and 2. Places like the post office or my job or the bar when I’m having a beer… I have little choice and leave the gun in the car. I do have a mini lockbox underneath my seat if I’m going to leave the gun in the car for a while. But the occasional restaurant or business that has a no guns sign? I can usually just go somewhere else that offers the same services.

    Luckily there are very few places in my area with no guns signs posted properly. The only one I can name off the top of my head is Buffalo Wild Wings, and honestly I can live without going there.

  4. I won’t deal with any regular business that posts no firearms. As for the unavoidable bank or post office (are those still open?) it stays in the truck. If I’m on the motorcycle…

  5. Who goes to the post office, seriously, use UPS.

    If I have to go into my kids school, or a bar, I put the gun in a lock box in the back of my SUV, cause I don’t have a trunk.

    Otherwise, I take my business elsewhere.

  6. Very few places around here post ‘no guns’ signs. My bank and the restaraunts I frequent allow firearms and I avoid the Post Office like the plague specifically because they don’t allow firearms. I don’t use them unless I have to.

  7. We had custom gun vaults installed in the consoles between the front seats for the places we have to go where we cannot carry.

    We also don’t patronize private businesses or malls unless they permit us to carry. As a matter of fact I closed my accounts and cancelled the credit cards issued by a local bank because they installed “no guns” signs. I also informed the bank manager (I had known him for 10 years) why I was leaving his bank. He apologized but said it was a decision by corporate and that I was the 5th customer that week to do so. I also contacted the corporate office but they didn’t seem to care.

  8. Is it ever a felony to carry in a place that restricts carrying? I suppose maybe a federal building could be but I’m pretty sure it’s only a misdemeanor at other locations. Shouldn’t you weigh a possible misdemeanor versus being unarmed?

  9. What do you say to carrying in gun free zones when you live in a place where such zones do not have the force of law behind them?

  10. In Indiana, signs carry no force of law, though that’s not true in every state. Of course, day cares, schools and federal buildings are different; I don’t often go to the post office, even when I didn’t carry. Most banks aren’t a problem and, should they be, use the drive-through when available. Also, were I to make a habit of storing a handgun in a vehicle, I’d get a purpose-made case and it would be bolted to the frame of the vehicle. A cable lock is only slightly more difficult to deal with by the person who broke into the vehicle in the first place …and nothing says “gun inside” more than a small lock-box cabled to your car seat (though, fanny packs and vests do nearly as much ;). FWIW, Indiana is also an OC state …another reason I enjoy living here! 🙂

  11. Actually, I never take off my holster or magazine carrier. I merely stow my weapon and extra magazine in my vehicle’s gun safe and then enter the premises as usual. It’s not illegal to carry a concealed holster or mag carrier in these establishments.

    Here’s a hint for newbie CHL holders. Spend the first few weeks before you receive your CHL, wearing your carry holster and mag carrier. Get used to what it feels like to stand, walk and sit with these empty before taking your first “wally walk”. Adjust your clothing if someone sees you printing (I had to go up one size in shirts) with just the holster. Become comfortable with the holster on your belt before adding your weapon. You’ll find it much easier to truly carry concealed if you practice first.

  12. For commercial establishments I have been known to stop by, ask to speak to the manager and congratulate them on how well their business must be doing if they are comfortable turning people away. Then I give them a “No Guns = No $$$” card which points out that as a permit holder they know that I have no felony or violent misdemeanor convictions and not history of mental illness or substance abuse. The card concludes by asking “What do you know about your *other* customers?” I’ll usually add that as soon as they change their policy I will be happy to patronize their establishment. If I get the standard “It’s not store policy it’s corporate policy” bleat I point out that if enough store managers pitch a fit over the lost revenue, corporate will frequently ‘reevaluate’ policies.
    About 6 years ago Best Buy stores started banning permit holders. I have a bit of an edge as a former employee, I knew where to hurt their revenue. I had a couple of RAM chips I’d just ordered off their website ($150 worth) so I took them to a store to return them. That was $150 off of one of the store’s key numbers (accessories) meaning they would have to sell about $1000 in accessories that day just to break even. I just explained to the Manager on Duty that since BB didn’t want my business I was obliging them. Things like that went on all across the country and within days the policy was ‘clarified’ as only applying to employees, not customers. Six months later I ran into a friend who worked at Best Buy corporate, as we were catching up over lunch I mentioned something about having my permit to carry and she told me about the (her words) “absolute shit-storm you gun guys hit corporate with” over the ban.
    So yeah, grass roots action can work and if it doesn’t, well, it’s still cathartic to piss in someone’s Wheaties every now and then.

  13. When storing my firearm in my vehicle in a private parking lot, I sometimes use a bicycle cable (looped under the drivers seat) and a padlock and store it right there. The big thick padlock goes through the trigger guard and makes it impossible to fire.

    If I’m in a public parking lot and want to store it, I’ll just lock it down in my trunk.

    And this is kind of after the fact, but if I were shot (and survived) or even assaulted I would attempt to sue them, the people who prevented me from my God given right to defend myself, till their eyes bled. And any winnings would go to a fund to help others in similar cases.
    Yeah I recognize their right to have an establishment that has a rule of no firearms for me, but I recognize the right for me to sue them if something were to ever happen.

  14. question guys, i live in AZ, and my employer does not have a “no weapons” policy at work. thats being said, i was never told or given a document that says i’m not allowed to carry while i’m on the job. my question is, in arizona, is there a law that says an employee cannot carry openly on company time? i work in a resturaunt that doesnt serve alcohol, so am i legally allowed to carry on company time?

  15. I have been researching post office carry and found this article. From what I have read it is illegal to carry on postal property. The post office owns the parking lot. What do you do about that?

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