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Transfer of Firearms Between Family Members Living in Texas and California

Question:  I am a Texas resident, visiting my father in California. I would like to take back two 22-caliber rifles, one very old .410 shotgun, and possibly an air powered bb gun to Texas.  My vehicle is a crossover SUV and there is not trunk.  It has been a long time since I lived in California, laws have changed, and I know nothing about Arizona and New Mexico.  There are numerous border patrol checkpoints along my route and I have little doubt that with a load of other things in the back of my car, probably covered by a blanket, my probabilities of being stopped are above average.  Is it legal to transport these guns in California, New Mexico and Arizona, and do I need to take any special steps to insure I am in compliance with various state laws.  Thank you.

Answer: Right off the bat, you should understand that you cannot legally drive from Texas to California and as a Texas resident acquire a firearm and transport it back to Texas.  By doing so you would be in violation of Federal law.  It does not matter that the transfer is occurring between family members.  The only way that Federal law would allow what you propose would be if you were taking possession of the firearm if they had been left to you by your father’s estate.  Since he is still alive, that doesn’t work.

To keep it legal you would need to transfer the firearms through a Federally licensed firearms dealer.  You can have your father ship them from California to a firearms dealer in Texas, who would then transfer them to you in compliance with Texas law.  This would only apply to the actual firearms, not the BB gun.

In terms of the laws regarding transportation, only California is restrictive in terms of transport.  You would need to have the unloaded firearm in a locked container or case as long as you were in California.  In Arizona you may legally transport a loaded long gun in plain view or in a case.  In New Mexico you may transport a firearm in any condition (unloaded or loaded) openly or concealed anywhere in your vehicle.

I know this seems like a difficult process, but with very limited exceptions, Federal law has been designed to make any interstate transfer of a firearm possible only through a Federally licensed firearms dealer.

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Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. Ricardo Delgado says:

    I am moving to California from Texas and using UHaul trucks. Can I transport my handgun to California?

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    • Doug Little says:

      Richard,

      You can transport your firearm from Texas to California in a U-Haul. You should make sure that you firearm is locked inside a container in the back of the truck and that the firearm is unloaded in order to comply with California law. Transporting your firearm through New Mexico and Arizona will also be OK under the same conditions.

      Doug Little

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  2. Doug Little says:

    Yes, but just make sure that your firearms are locked in the back of the truck. They must be cased and unloaded. The ammo must be stored separately from the guns as well.

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