Sunday, March 15, 2015

Fox 5 story: Can you have a gun in your car?

On March 12, Fox 5 posted a story on the legality of carrying a gun in a car in Nevada. “Can you have a gun in your car in Nevada?”

The ‘legal expert’ was Fox 5’s regular legal attorney Bob Massi. Massi currently practices real-estate law. From analysis of his interview and advise for this story, his knowledge of Nevada firearm law needs improvement. Even so, many licensed firearm instructors as also as ignorant and spread these myths and rumors. Those instructors engage in a campaign of mistruths designed to get them concealed carry training business; Massi didn’t lie, he just didn’t know enough about what he was talking about.

Massi did clarify a bit more on his Facebook page.

Openly visible

He erroneously stated that a gun, when carried in a car, must be disclosed to a police officer if stopped. “[...] open view, that you do have it on your seat or on you where they can see it.” His advise that the gun must be plainly visible, is partially true.

Under Nevada law, a gun may be legally kept in a glove box, console, bag, or other place where it is not visible while inside the car. When a gun is kept on the body, one must either have a concealed firearm permit or open carry.

State law defines a “concealed firearm” as a loaded or unloaded handgun which is carried upon a person in such a manner as not to be discernible by ordinary observation. If a handgun is carried on the body in a car (holstered), it must be plainly visible, if you were outside the car. For instance, if you stand up and the gun is obvious, but when you sit down, the arm rest or center console obstructs the view, the gun is openly visible. Now putting a jacket or article of clothing over a gun is concealing it, and requires a permit.

The Attorney General’s opinion is “[...] that the language of NRS 202.350 would be narrowly construed to include only those concealed weapons which are actually on the person or in a container carried by the person.” Visit the link to read more.

A gun does not have to be visible in a car or requires a permit, unless it is carried concealed on the body.

The recommendation to keep your hands on the steering wheel and not reach for items in the glove box or console is excellent advise, especially if you do have a gun in the vehicle. As a former law enforcement officer, it is recommended by Nevada Carry that you keep your hands in plain sight until the officer arrives at your window. Lower the windows on his side, turn on the interior light (if at night), and wait for his instructions.

Nevada has no duty to inform a police officer if you have a gun in your car or you are carrying a weapon. You do not have to tell the police if you have a gun. Bob Massi really got this wrong. Whether you choose to is your own choice, but it’s probably a very good idea to let the officer know you have a gun in your glove box before reaching in there.

Long-guns can be ‘loaded’, but must have the actual chamber unloaded. This is based off of hunting regulations. A loaded magazine inserted or a shotgun’s tube filled with shells is legal.

North Las Vegas

Massi did mention the pre-emption clause, but is unaware that unlicensed carry in a vehicle is legal, despite illegal ordinances in North Las Vegas requiring a concealed firearm permit. In the past, NLVPD did arrest for these violations and continued to harass law-abiding citizens after the state pre-emption law was implemented. This contributed to the persistent rumor that NLVPD harasses citizens legally carrying a gun without a permit (open carry or car carry).

NLVPD does not harass law-abiding citizens open carrying or who have a gun in their car. This is rumor and gossip based on information that is out-of-date. It’s irresponsible to perpetuate these untruths as they discourage people from carrying.

North Las Vegas Police lied when they told Kim Smith that a concealed firearm permit was required for loaded car carry. This law was invalidated by the state pre-emption clause, NRS. 268.418, and several bills before the legislature would seek to remove these invalid and unenforceable ordinances. Even though police are not supposed to be experts on the law, they should know better, as an illegal search, seizure, or arrest is a serious violation of civil rights, risking a law suit and jeopardizing careers.

NLVPD giving out invalid ordinances and failing to properly communicate the truth to the news media is reprehensible and a good example why bills like AB127 and SB175 need to be passed.

Fox 5

I contacted Fox 5’s Kim Smith, who brought us the story, in regards to the errors. Kim mentions that she’s a licensed concealed firearm permit instruction here in Clark County. She should probably brush up on the laws a bit. From what she told me, her information came directly from NLVPD who gave her a link to the city ordinances.

"The question about having a gun in one’s car and also in North Las Vegas is asked in classes and by firearm owners often and presented to me as a traffic reporter frequently. I reached out to North Las Vegas Police who sent me their city ordinances which is listed on my traffic blog page and below. [quote ordinances]"

As a firearms instructor and a news reporter, Kim could do better. The public is starved for this information and can’t rely on rumors, gossip, and erroneous information. Too many people learn about guns by getting hearsay information from ‘a friend’ or a half-remembered news story.

In a more general sense, TV news has become quite superficial and the quality of reporting needs to improve; something you really can’t do with a public more interested in entertainment news, cute kitty videos, what color the traffic flow is at the Rainbow Curve, and when the editor demands you stuff an hour of info into a three minute segment. I guess that’s why it tends to fall to bloggers and members of the new media to go in-depth. A sign of changing times, I suppose.

It’s not all negativity here. Bob Massi regularly reaches out to the public in free ‘clinics’ to help answer legal questions. Kim Smith took the time to explain her story prep and her background. Fox 5 has also previously aired a segment with Metro PD explaining about self-defense and guns. It’s also fantastic to hear that a prominent woman in local media is involved with the firearms community and took the considerable time and effort to become an instructor.

Nevada Carry commends Fox 5 for tackling the responsible and legal carry of guns in a beneficial way, without sensationalizing the issue. Clearly, Fox 5 has a much better respect for our right to keep and bear arms than other news stations in the Las Vegas Valley.


What was neglected was car-carrying safely. Even in a car, a holster covering the trigger is needed and a locking compartment, including special car-safes, is a good idea. Guns should never be left in an unlocked car or accessible to children. The best way to carry is on the body, under positive control of the carrier. It’s also important to take into consideration that guns may be stolen from a car.

Open carry and car carry is legal in North Las Vegas, and you don’t have to tell the police about your gun. Just don’t be stupid or a criminal. 

Nevada Carry is dedicate to spreading the truth about guns, dispelling myths, and educating the public about guns and gun laws. We welcome any opportunity to assist the mainstream media in the above goals.


1 comment:

  1. I know this is an old post, but you do need to disclose you have firearms in the car IF ASKED, Correct?

    I know there is no need to preemptively tell an officer, but once the officer asks, like they almost always do, you are then required to disclose that information, unless I am mistaken. Your Guidance, even though this is over a year old, is greatly appreciated!