Rear Window Gun Rack Laws

Whether you are a hunter, farmer, or firearm enthusiast, the law is the same for everyone, and that includes firearms in your vehicle.

Driving around with a shotgun or rifle in a gun rack on the back of your truck seems normal for many old-school people, but the times are changing, and gun laws are getting more strict.

Can You Still Have a Gun Rack in Your Truck?

There are no laws in the U.S. prohibiting a gun rack in your car

A gun rack is usually a couple of hooks mounted to the inside of the back window of your truck‘s cab. There are no laws in the U.S. stating that you cannot mount those hooks in your truck. 

Whether you can mount a gun on a gun rack in your truck is another matter entirely. It all depends on your state’s gun laws, the permits you have, and the licenses you would need to obtain if you don’t have them.

There were times when driving around in your truck with a gun mount filled with firearms was a typical view in many towns. Hunters and ranchers traveled around armed just in case, and many people who had gun permits wanted to have their firearms handy at all times.

However, those times have changed. Many people frown upon such a display. It is sometimes considered suspicious, and on top of that, firearms laws get more strict every year. Many states prohibit carrying firearms in plain view with easy access for any passenger of the vehicle. 

Another thing is whether it is safe for you and your belongings to display your arsenal so openly. Times had come that crime is widespread from the biggest of the cities to the smallest of towns, and having your shotgun in a gun rack in plain view may be just asking for trouble, regardless if it is legal to do so. 

Can I Mount a Shotgun in My Truck?

Whether you can mount a shotgun in your truck or not depends on the laws in the state you are currently driving in. The laws are also changing between states, and while most would allow you to carry your gun permits across the state line, a few, like New Jersey, would not recognize gun licenses from other states.

There are no problems with a shotgun or a rifle on a gun rack in your truck in states that allow you to carry a firearm openly. Some states require you a special permit to openly carry a gun, and the rest would not allow you to carry any gun openly at all.

You cannot have your shotgun or any other long barrel firearm displayed on your gun rack in eight states, and there are no permits available. Those states are:

  • California, 
  • District of Columbia, 
  • Florida, 
  • Illinois, 
  • Massachusetts, 
  • Minnesota, 
  • New Hampshire,
  • New Jersey.

You can drive with your shotgun or any other long barrel gun on your gun rack in most U.S., excluding the eight states mentioned. Three states require you to have your guns unloaded while carrying them openly. Those are Utah, Tennessee, and Iowa. There are another two, Pennsylvania and Virginia, limiting open carry in some cities.

When driving with your shotgun or rifle on your gun rack, always be mindful of the local laws and regulations. As you can see, those can change from state to state and between cities within one state.

Do I Need a Permit to Carry a Gun in My Car?

There are state laws that will determine whether you are allowed to transport your firearms in your car. It is good to get familiar with regulations in each state you want to travel through because some states require different laws. We mentioned before about the states that don’t require any permits to carry a gun openly. 

There is also a case of transporting guns across state borders. To carry a gun in your vehicle in another state, you may need a non-resident permit. While some states require a permit to carry a loaded firearm in your car, they may not want to issue a permit to a non-resident. 

Most states would permit you to have your gun in your vehicle without any special permit (apart from your regular gun permit if needed). In that case, the firearm would need to be unloaded, in a gun case, and locked in the trunk, unavailable to the driver or any passenger during the drive.

Final Thoughts

Gun laws in America are getting more strict every year. That also includes any shotguns and rifles you would want to carry in your vehicle.

The old-style gun racks are not as popular as they were in the 70s and certainly not as safe to have in your truck. Some states still allow you to have them, but to be on the safe side, it’s better to keep them stored out of sight.


1. Why are rear window gun racks becoming less popular?

Rear window gun racks are becoming less popular due to changing times and stricter gun laws. Additionally, displaying firearms openly can be considered suspicious and may attract unwanted attention or crime.

2. Are there any states that do not recognize gun licenses from other states?

Yes, some states like New Jersey do not recognize gun licenses from other states.

3. How should firearms be transported in states that require permits?

In states that require permits, firearms should be transported unloaded, in a gun case, and locked in the trunk, making them unavailable to the driver or any passenger during the drive.

4. Is it legal to display firearms openly in all U.S. states?

No, there are eight states where you cannot display firearms openly on your gun rack. These states include California, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and New Jersey.

5. Are there any states that have specific cities limiting open carry?

Yes, Pennsylvania and Virginia have specific cities that limit open carry of firearms.

6. What precautions should one take when driving with firearms in their vehicle?

One should always be mindful of the local laws and regulations regarding firearms. It’s essential to be aware that laws can change from state to state and even between cities within a state. To ensure safety and compliance, always keep firearms stored out of sight when not in use.
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