Can You Legally Mount A Gun On Your Car?

Let’s say you want to convey a certain image while cruising around in your car or truck. You’ve decided that the macho look of big mustache and flower shirts just isn’t cutting it. You want to make a statement when you pull up to the racket club or tailgate before the big game. What you think you need is a gun mounted to your vehicle. You know, like a “gun truck.” But, can you legally mount a gun onto your truck? 

Philosophically, a car or truck is a lethal weapon. No matter what living thing you aim at it will absolutely hurt and potentially kill that living thing if contact is made. So, why should adding a gun to the outside of it be any more lethal than it already is?

Once you actually mount a gun to your vehicle, things change…

Gun truck | Getty
Gun truck | Getty

There is no law that says you can’t weld up or bolt on a gun mount to a vehicle. But, the second you actually mount a gun to your vehicle things change in a myriad of ways. For one thing, that gun better be registered to you. Secondly, if it’s a machine gun it must have your tax stamp and you must have the paperwork for that machine gun on your person. 

If you’re on a private road or on private property you can pretty much do whatever you want, within reason. But, on a public road, the first thing is that you’re considered as transporting a firearm. Is the gun an “encased or inaccessible firearm” per Federal or State laws? 

If you have a permit for the gun is it considered a concealed weapon with a carriage exemption? If it is, there is still another hurdle to cross in your attempt to drive around with a mounted gun on your vehicle.

Does this suddenly make you a “public disturbance?”

A couple has mounted a machine gun on their car and touring to show people how such a Home Defense Measure can be done if it becomes necessary, New York, July 13, 1917. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

Will driving around with a gun mounted to your vehicle fall into the “public disturbance” category? Even if all State and Federal laws are being followed is the way your vehicle is presented or, say, the way you present yourself in proximity to the gun, threatening or worse?

If that’s the case there may be a problem as to motives or intent. In a state like New Mexico, it has the “extended domain” rule. This means that a vehicle has similar protections, when it comes to firearms, as one’s home. It also allows open carry of loaded firearms except in restricted areas like in and around schools, bars, and courthouses. 

The main optic is that you become an enemy target in some eyes

Gun truck | Getty
Gun truck | Getty

But, the main concern of a gun mounted on a pickup is that to some you’re yelling “enemy target.” Especially to anyone that is or has served in the military. It almost screams, “Come and get me.” 

So, while it may be legal, for your safety and to remain a good neighbor and not pose a threat to yourself, it might be considered to be a good idea NOT to mount a gun to your vehicle.