Can You Carry a Gun in a Car in Las Vegas?

Even though the laws in the State of Nevada permit open carry of firearms, a person who owns or has a gun is subject to numerous federal and state statutes and regulations. A common question that Las Vegas residents and visitors often ask is whether you can carry a gun in a car or another vehicle. Although having a firearm in a car is generally allowed, there are prohibitions, including who may have a gun at all, how you may carry it, and where you may go with a firearm in a car. Staying informed about the restrictions can help you avoid an unexpected gun charge in Nevada.

How Does Open Carry Apply in a Vehicle?

Federal and state firearm laws apply equally to Nevada residents and visitors to Las Vegas. The laws also apply to carrying a gun in a vehicle, just as they apply to having a gun anywhere else. The laws that apply to open carry of firearms in the state generally means that you can have a gun on your person or easily within reach where anyone can see it. Examples include using a hip or shoulder holster, tucking the gun into your waistband, or using a sling holster for larger guns like rifles and shotguns. Regardless of the carry method, the firearm must be visible to other people.

Concealed carry is different from open carry and is not permitted in Nevada unless you have a valid concealed carry permit from Nevada or a reciprocal state. A valid CCW (Carry Concealed Weapon) or CFP (Concealed Firearms Permit) allows you to carry a firearm in a way that is not visible to other people.

Overall restrictions on who may carry a firearm and where you may take a firearm apply in a vehicle in the same way they apply to carrying a gun outside a vehicle in a public place. If the law does not permit you to own or possess a firearm, or you go to a place where guns are not allowed, you cannot have a gun inside a car.

If the laws allow you to have a gun, you may take a gun in a car. But unless you have a valid concealed weapon permit, you cannot hide the gun in a place on yourself where it cannot be seen. Open carry of a firearm in a car requires that it is visible, which includes having it on the seat, dashboard, or floor or in a place that is not on your body, like the trunk, glove compartment, center console, or under the seat. You may carry a firearm concealed on your person in a vehicle only if you have a valid CFP / CCW permit. These rules apply whether the gun is loaded or not, with one exception. A specific Nevada law, NRS 503.165, prohibits carrying a loaded shotgun or rifle in a car. Under the statute, a loaded gun means there is an unexpended cartridge or shell in the firing chamber, but it does not include cartridges or shells in the magazine. The law includes limited exceptions.

If you are stopped by law enforcement with a gun in your vehicle, you have no duty to inform the officer that you have a firearm. However, you must show a valid permit if police ask whether you are carrying a concealed weapon. Police may be able to perform a pat-down and seize a firearm if the officer believes a crime has been committed or the officer’s safety is threatened.

General Gun Prohibitions in Nevada

Persons not permitted to possess firearms generally also cannot have a gun in a car. The categories include:

  • Any person under the age of 18 years (with a limited exception for hunting)
  • Anyone with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher, or anyone under the influence of drugs
  • Persons convicted of a felony or domestic violence
  • Undocumented or illegal immigrants
  • Persons dishonorably discharged from the military
  • Mentally ill or mentally incompetent individuals
  • Fugitives
  • Drug addicts and users

Even if you can carry a firearm in a car, you cannot drive the car anywhere that you are not permitted to have a gun. General Nevada prohibitions on both open and concealed carry include:

  • Government buildings
  • Public and private schools
  • Nevada higher education facilities
  • Post offices and federal facilities
  • Child care and daycare facilities
  • Airport secure areas and plane cabins
  • Other places, including national parks and military bases, as prescribed by specific rules of the facility

If you plan to drive somewhere with a firearm in the car, it’s essential to determine in advance whether you are permitted to have the gun in the destination location.

Schedule a Free Consultation With a Las Vegas Firearms Defense Lawyer

If you face any federal or state firearms charge in Las Vegas or elsewhere in Clark County, The Gersten Law Firm is here to help. As an approved Concealed Firearm Instructor for Nevada and Utah with and certification from the National Rifle Association (NRA) in more than nine disciplines, criminal defense attorney Joseph Gersten is uniquely qualified to understand and defend against gun charges. Contact The Gersten Law Firm to schedule your free consultation.