Locking Devices in California

See our Locking Devices policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

All firearms sold or transferred in California by a licensed dealer, including private transfers conducted by a dealer, must include a “firearms safety device” listed on the roster of approved firearms safety devices maintained by the California Department of Justice (“DOJ”).1 The firearms safety device must be listed on the roster as appropriate for that firearm.2 A “firearms safety device” is a device, other than a gun safe, that locks and is designed to prevent children and unauthorized users from firing a firearm. The device may be installed on a firearm, be incorporated into the design of the firearm, or prevent access to the firearm.3

California prohibits anyone, including a licensed dealer, from selling any “firearms safety device” that is not listed on the DOJ roster, or that does not comply with the firearm safety device standards set by DOJ.4 In addition, no person may distribute, as part of an organized firearm safety program, any firearm safety device that is not listed on the DOJ roster or that does not comply with DOJ’s firearm safety device standards.5 The sale or transfer of a firearm does not need to include a firearms safety device, however, if the purchaser or transferee either: 1) provides proof that he or she has purchased or owns a gun safe that meets the gun safe standards set by DOJ; or 2) presents, with the firearm, an approved firearms safety device to the dealer that the purchaser or transferee purchased no more than 30 days prior, along with an original receipt.6

DOJ’s roster of approved firearms safety devices may only include firearms safety devices that have been tested by a DOJ-certified testing laboratory and that meet DOJ’s firearms safety device standards.7 DOJ may randomly retest roster samples obtained from sources other than the manufacturer to ensure compliance with the requirements of state law.8

Dealers selling long gun safes9 that do not meet DOJ’s standards for gun safes must conspicuously post or display the following warning, in both English and Spanish, on the gun safe’s packaging or with any materials that accompany the safe, and on a label affixed to the front of the gun safe:

WARNING: This gun safe does not meet the safety standards for gun safes specified in California Penal Code Section 23650. It does not satisfy the requirements of Penal Code Section 23635, which mandates that all firearms sold in California be accompanied by a firearms safety device or proof of ownership, as required by law, of a gun safe that meets the Section 23650 minimum safety standards developed by the California Attorney General.10

California law prohibits any person from selling a long gun safe that does not comply with DOJ’s standards for gun safes, unless the long gun safe is labeled in this manner.11 In addition, long gun safes must have a locking system consisting of either a mechanical combination lock or an electronic combination lock that has at least 1,000 possible unique combinations consisting of a minimum of three numbers, letters or symbols per combination.12

DOJ may order the recall and replacement of any gun safe or firearms safety device model that does not conform with its safety standards, or order that the gun safe or firearm safety device model be brought into conformity with those requirements.13

Notes
  1. Cal. Penal Code § 23635(a).
  2. Id.
  3. Cal. Penal Code § 16540.
  4. Cal. Penal Code § 23660(a).
  5. Cal. Penal Code § 23660(b). DOJ’s firearm safety device standards exist at Cal. Code Regs. tit. 11, § 4094.
  6. Cal. Penal Code § 23635(b), (c). Dealers must collect and maintain records demonstrating which exception applies. Id. DOJ’s standards for gun safes exist at Cal. Code Regs. tit. 11, § 4100.
  7. Cal. Penal Code § 23655(d). By January 1, 2002, DOJ was required to set minimum safety standards for firearm safety devices and gun safes to significantly reduce the risk of firearms-related injuries to children 17 years of age and younger. Cal. Penal Code § 23650. A certified testing laboratory, after receiving a firearms safety device from the manufacturer, is required to test the device and submit a copy of the final test report to DOJ, along with the device. DOJ must then notify the manufacturer or dealer of its receipt of the final test report and of DOJ’s determination as to whether the device tested may be sold in California. Cal. Penal Code § 23655(c). DOJ’s regulations regarding certified firearms safety laboratories, firearms safety device testing and standards, and standards for gun safes are detailed in Cal. Code Regs. tit. 11, §§ 4080-4109.
  8. Cal. Penal Code § 23655(f).
  9. Defined to mean a locking container designed to fully contain and secure a rifle or shotgun,which has a locking system consisting of either a mechanical combination lock or an electronic combination lock that has at least 1,000 possible unique combinations consisting of a minimum of three numbers, letters, or symbols per combination, and is not listed on DOJ’s roster of approved firearms safety devices. Cal. Penal Code § 16870.
  10. Cal. Penal Code § 23635(d).
  11. Cal. Penal Code §§ 23665-23670. Similarly, any person who sells a long gun safe that does not comply with state standards for gun safes, and who removes the warning label required by Cal. Penal Code § 23635, is subject to penalty. Cal. Penal Code § 23665(b).
  12. Cal. Penal Code § 16870.
  13. Cal. Penal Code § 23680(a). If the firearms safety device can be separated and reattached to the firearm without damaging the firearm, the licensed dealer must immediately provide a conforming replacement as instructed by the Attorney General. Cal. Penal Code § 23680(b). If the device cannot be separated from a firearm without damaging the firearm, the Attorney General may order the recall and replacement of the firearm. Cal. Penal Code § 23680(c).

Locking Devices in New York

Firearms dealers in New York are required to transfer a locking device with each firearm, and include a warning label (either affixed to the firearm or placed in the container in which the firearm is transferred).1 The warning must state: “The use of a locking device or safety lock is only one aspect of responsible firearm storage. For increased safety firearms should be stored unloaded and locked in a location that is both separate from their ammunition and inaccessible to children and any other unauthorized person.”2 In addition, dealers are required to post, in the place where firearms are displayed or transferred to the purchaser, a notice conspicuously stating in bold print the warning quoted above.3

The term “gun locking device” is defined by New York law as:

[A]n integrated design feature or an attachable accessory that is resistant to tampering and is effective in preventing the discharge of such rifle, shotgun or [other] firearm by a person who does not have access to the key, combination or other mechanism used to disengage the device.4

The Division of State Police must develop and promulgate regulations setting forth the specific devices or minimum standards and criteria which constitute an effective gun locking device.5 These regulations can be found at the New York State Police web site.6

New York law requires locking a gun in a safe storage depository, defined as a container that is incapable of being unlocked without a key or combination lock, or use of a trigger lock when not carried or under the immediate possession or control of the owner if the owner lives with someone who the owner knows is prohibited from possessing a firearm because the individual:

  • Has been convicted of a felony;
  • Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution;
  • Is subject to a protective order; or
  • Has been convicted of an enumerated serious misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or completed his or her sentence for an enumerated serious misdemeanor crime of domestic violence within the prior 5 years.

A violation of this law is punishable as a misdemeanor.7

See our Locking Devices policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. New York Gen. Bus. Law § 396-ee(1).
  2. New York Gen. Bus. Law § 396-ee(2).
  3. New York Gen. Bus. Law § 396-ee(2).
  4. New York Gen. Bus. Law § 396-ee(1).
  5. New York Gen. Bus. Law § 396-ee(1).
  6. See also N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 9, § 471.1 et seq.
  7. New York Penal Law § 265.45.

Locking Devices in Ohio

Ohio law provides that when selling any firearm, a federally licensed firearms dealer must offer for sale a trigger lock, gun lock, or gun locking device appropriate for the firearm being sold.1 Federal law is similar.

Ohio has no law requiring firearm owners to utilize locking devices.

See our Locking Devices policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Ohio Rev. Code § 2923.25.

Locking Devices in Massachusetts

See our Locking Devices policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Pursuant to Massachusetts law, it is unlawful to store or keep any firearm:

[U]nless such weapon is secured in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device, properly engaged so as to render such weapon inoperable by any person other than the owner or other lawfully authorized user. For purposes of this section, such weapon shall not be deemed stored or kept if carried by or under the control of the owner or other lawfully authorized user.1

Firearms dealers must conspicuously post at each purchase counter the following warning in bold type of not less than one inch in height: “IT IS UNLAWFUL TO STORE OR KEEP A FIREARM, RIFLE, SHOTGUN OR MACHINE GUN IN ANY PLACE UNLESS THAT WEAPON IS EQUIPPED WITH A TAMPER-RESISTANT SAFETY DEVICE OR IS STORED OR KEPT IN A SECURELY LOCKED CONTAINER.” Dealers must also provide the warning in writing to the transferee of any firearm in bold type not less than one-quarter inch in height.2

Any handgun or large capacity weapon sold in Massachusetts without a safety device designed to prevent discharge by unauthorized users is considered defective and the sale of such a weapon shall constitute a breach of warranty and an unfair or deceptive trade act or practice.3 The Department of State Police has approved a list of such devices.

In addition, Massachusetts deems unfair or deceptive the transfer or offer to transfer of any handgun that does not contain a mechanism which precludes an average five year old child from operating a handgun when it is ready to fire. Such mechanism may include, but is not limited to, a raised trigger resistance, alteration of the firing mechanism so that a child’s hands are too small to operate it, or the requirement of multiple motions in order to fire the weapon. It is also an unfair or deceptive trade practice to transfer or offer to transfer a handgun that does not contain a load indicator or magazine safety disconnect.4

Notes
  1. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 131L(a).
  2. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 123 (Fourteenth).
  3. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 131K.
  4. 940 Mass. Code Regs. 16.05. Please see 940 Mass. Code Regs. 16.05, 16.06 and 16.07 for additional handgun locking device requirements.

Locking Devices in New Jersey

In New Jersey, retail firearms dealers must include a trigger lock or a locked case, gun box, container or other secure facility with every handgun sold, unless the handgun is on the state list of approved personalized handguns.1 For further information about personalized handguns, see the section entitled Personalized & Owner-Authorized Firearms in New Jersey.

New Jersey has established the “KeepSafe” program, which provides that any person who purchases a firearm from a retail dealer is eligible for a five dollar instant rebate on the purchase of a trigger locking device compatible with the firearm purchased.2 In addition, the New Jersey State Police shall provide licensed retail firearms dealers with a sign “to be prominently displayed at a conspicuous place on the dealer’s business premises” which will state “substantially” the following:

KEEP NEW JERSEY FIREARMS SAFE.
TO ENCOURAGE NEW JERSEY GUN OWNERS TO STORE THEIR FIREARMS SAFELY, THE STATE IS OFFERING A $5 INSTANT REBATE WHEN YOU PURCHASE A COMPATIBLE TRIGGER LOCK ALONG WITH YOUR FIREARM.
REMEMBER–THE USE OF A TRIGGER LOCK IS ONLY ONE ASPECT OF RESPONSIBLE FIREARM STORAGE. FIREARMS SHOULD BE STORED, UNLOADED AND LOCKED IN A LOCATION THAT IS BOTH SEPARATE FROM THEIR AMMUNITION AND INACCESSIBLE TO CHILDREN.
NEW JERSEY’S FAMILIES AND CHILDREN ARE PRECIOUS–KEEP THEM SAFE!!3

For other measures related to locking devices, see the section entitled Child Access Prevention in New Jersey.

New Jersey does not require firearm owners to lock their weapons.

See our Locking Devices policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-2a(5)(d), (e).
  2. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-17a, 17b.
  3. N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:58-17b.

Locking Devices in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania law prohibits a licensed firearms dealer from transferring a handgun or short-barreled rifle or shotgun unless he or she provides the transferee with a locking device, the transferee purchases a locking device, or the design of the handgun incorporates a locking device.1 “Locking device” is defined as either: 1) a device that, when installed on a firearm, is designed to prevent the firearm from being operated without first deactivating the device; or 2) a device that is incorporated into the design of a firearm and that is designed to prevent the operation of the firearm by anyone not having access to the device.2

Note that federal law contains a similar provision.

See our Locking Devices policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6142. This section does not apply to transfers to law enforcement or among licensed dealers. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6142(a)-(b). Nor does it apply to transfers of “antique firearms,” which generally includes firearms manufactured on or before 1898, or those with a matchlock, flintlock or percussion cap type of ignition system, or any replica of such firearms. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6118.
  2. 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6142(f).

Locking Devices in Wisconsin

Wisconsin does not require that locking devices be included with each firearm sold, although federal law applies.

Wisconsin also does not require firearm owners to utilize locking devices. See the Wisconsin Child Access Prevention section, however, for information regarding the use of locking devices as a means of avoiding liability for unauthorized firearm use by children.

See our Locking Devices policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Locking Devices in Illinois

Illinois prohibits firearms dealers from selling or offering for sale a handgun unless the dealer includes with the handgun a device or mechanism, other than the firearm safety, designed to render the handgun temporarily inoperable or inaccessible.1 This may include an external device that is attached to the handgun with a key or combination lock, or an integrated mechanical safety, disabling or locking device. Federal law also applies. These requirements do not apply to sales by private sellers.2

See our Locking Devices policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/24-9.5(a).
  2. Id.

Locking Devices in the District of Columbia

For sound public safety purposes, the District of Columbia has established a strong, yet non-binding, policy that each firearm registrant should keep any firearm in his or her possession unloaded and either disassembled or secured by a trigger lock, gun safe, locked box, or other secure device.1

The District does not require a locking device to accompany the sale of a firearm, although federal law applies.

See our Locking Devices policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2507.02(a).