Gun boxes and transporting guns
While a car gun box isn’t a legal requirement, it can pay dividends in the peace of mind it offers you when out and about, says Nathan Little
As responsible gun owners, the security of our guns should be a top priority — it’s both a legal obligation as part of the terms of our certificate and also a moral duty. When it comes to our guns’ storage and security at home, there are strict rules to govern this — from the type of cabinet needed, how it must be fixed into position and even how ammunition and cartridges should be stored. All of these are designed to prevent guns falling into the wrong hands.
When it comes to transporting guns in vehicles however, the rules on security are a little more subjective, with even more onus placed on the individual to ensure they take all reasonable precautions depending on the situation. This throws up its own hurdles to ensure the guns are safe in transit; perhaps more so than at home given the differing and developing circumstances that may present themselves on the road.
There are a number of options when it comes to transporting guns safely — from a gun slip in the boot of the car, a trigger lock or detachable trigger group, a leather travel case made to look less conspicuous or even the removal of the fore-end or bolt — but for the purposes of this article we will consider specifically the use of gun safes or boxes in cars as an option for additional security.
Variety of gun boxes
Gun safes today come in a range of different styles with all manner of features, making them quite a cool — and luxurious — optional extra if you have the space. The first gun box I saw was a stunning handmade walnut drawer box. Made to look like a set of drawers, this particular example had secure storage for guns, a protective top for a dog box and a top drawer for all the luxuries one could possibly need on a shoot day.
This was a number of years ago but it has appeared to form somewhat of a benchmark for other gun boxes that followed, and many new companies now offer variations with modern and hard-wearing composite materials.
While there is technically no legal requirement to fit a gun box in your vehicle, they do bring a whole manner of advantages and peace of mind. For thieves, time is of the essence. Anything you can do to make them think twice about breaking in in the first place is a good position to be in, and a sturdy-looking safe or gun box can do this.
Anything that appears remotely difficult to get in to or runs the risk of making noise or attracting unwanted attention for a thief adds another hurdle in their way over simply a locked car boot.
Many of today’s safes are also rather discreet. With new designs, some gun boxes are designed to blend in to the back of a vehicle (particularly pickups), looking simply like a raised floor. This holds two advantages. Firstly, the vehicle appears empty, and secondly, with draws shielded by the tailgate it adds an additional lawyer of security to bypass rather than simply smashing a glass window.
The multi-compartment boxes on the market also allow for multiple guns and cartridges or ammunition to be transported safely and separately. This not only means that ammunition is secure, but also in the rare event that someone did break into the vehicle and gain access to a gun, they would still have other compartments to break into and might not be able to access the ammunition.
The secure and snug fit of a gun box also helps to prevent damage. It could be a particularly bumpy ride to a drive (especially on grouse moors), a nasty crash that sends guns and cartridges flying around the boot, or even an excitable spaniel diving on the guns and cracking stocks — disaster. A gun box helps to minimise movement, especially with long-pull draws that allow the guns to slide in nicely while still in their slips.
Plus, as production costs have come down, gun boxes have become a more affordable option for many. And with ever-improving layouts inside, the decision to buy one has been made even easier. Modern designs and materials mean you don’t always have to compromise on space, either, meaning you can still fit the weekly shop in the back too.
That’s not to say a gun box is now a flippant purchase, but it’s one that can be made a little simpler. While progress has been made for sure to bring the cost down, it is still an expensive purchase. It is not a legal requirement, and while the benefits are clear, it is still a luxury item that can cost a pretty penny. Unwanted attention While a good-quality, discreet gun box will deter most criminals, it could be argued that some more extravagant ones may attract unwanted attention. This is particularly true if the safe is visible from outside the car or if the car itself is parked in an isolated location. It would be fair to say this is probably more true for the ornate walnut gun boxes, leading thieves to think them easier to break into. Finally, some gun boxes can take up valuable space. This may be a concern for shooters needing to transport a lot of equipment or those who don’t necessarily have a dedicated shoot vehicle. While customised safes are designed to fit perfectly, some designs still take up a significant amount of space in the boot of the vehicle.
Gun boxes in cars are an important consideration for those who participate in all shooting sports in the UK, with several options available on the market that cover most people’s budgets. While there are advantages and disadvantages to having a gun box in your car, the safety and convenience it provides makes it a worthwhile investment for many shooters and the pros heavily outweigh the cons in my opinion.
The peace of mind alone, knowing you are doing everything possible as a responsible gun owner to ensure your guns are safe 100% of the time is good enough for me. Ensuring that your guns are stored and transported in compliance with the law to avoid them falling into the wrong hands is a legal obligation but also comes with additional benefits, such as increased protection from damage and space efficiency in your boot.
Official guidance on gun boxes
The Home Office has published detailed guidance on the safe transportation of firearms, which outlines the requirements for gun storage. It ‘recommends’ that firearms should be transported in a locked container that is secured to the vehicle. The container should be made of a strong and durable material, and it should be large enough to accommodate all the firearms being transported. Note that this is not a legal requirement.
The guidance also specifies that the container should be located in the boot or rear of the vehicle, and it should not be visible from outside the car.
- Any firearms should be hidden, preferably in a locked boot or other secure load-carrying area.
- Vehicles that have to be left unattended for any length of time should ideally have an immobiliser and/or alarm fitted.
- Where practical, the bolt, magazine or other operating part should be separated from the firearm and either carried on the person or kept in a locked container, ideally secured to the vehicle or concealed elsewhere.
- Where possible, ammunition should be stored separately and this too should be concealed from view.
- Where possible, the vehicle should be parked within sight of the responsible person and in a position that would frustrate attempts to enter it unlawfully (for example with the boot close to a wall).
- In estates and hatchbacks, the lid or cover of the load-carrying area should be in place, and if ammunition has to be stored inside, it should be in a locked container ideally secured to the vehicle.
- A vehicle regularly used to carry guns should be fitted with a device for securing the guns to the vehicle, such as a security case, cage, cable or clamp.