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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I live in a Constitutional carry State where open or concealed carry of a handgun requires no license. You can legally drive around with a gun sitting on your passenger seat, in the console, in a holster, or wherever. CCW permits are available simply for reciprocity with certain other States but they aren’t needed where I live to legally carry.

However, I also visit California a couple times a year and I usually remain armed. Without CCW rights from my State of residency, and since California does not participate in CCW reciprocity with ANY other State, the laws regarding the transportation and storage of weapons in one’s vehicle become rather complicated there.

In the interest of complying with these ridiculous and onerous laws I set out in search of a legal solution. I also wanted a secure, out-of-sight place to store a handgun in my home State for those rare times when I can’t carry into whatever establishment claims to be a “gun free zone” (even though I try to avoid such places like the plague).

Now if I just stayed in my home State, the solution would have been quick and easy and I would have just installed one of those Lock’er Down Console Safes.

Console Safe 2007 - 2013 Toyota Tundra 2008-18 Sequoia LD2013XL

However, while executing my due diligence on California’s recent penal code changes I discovered the Lock’er Down unit was probably not technically compliant with California’s regulations regarding the unattended storage of a firearm in your vehicle.

For those interested, the California law that started this whole thing is Penal Code 25140 (which went into effect Jan 1, 2017).

PC 2514 reads as follows:

(a) A person shall, when leaving a handgun in an unattended vehicle, lock the handgun in the vehicle’s trunk, lock the handgun in a locked container and place the container out of plain view, or lock the handgun in a locked container that is permanently affixed to the vehicle’s interior and not in plain view.

(b) A violation of subdivision (a) is an infraction punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000).

(c)(1) As used in this section, “vehicle” has the same meaning as specified in Section 670 of the Vehicle Code.

(2) As used in this section, “locked container” has the same meaning as specified in Section 16850.

(3) For purposes of this section, a vehicle is unattended when a person who is lawfully carrying or transporting a handgun in a vehicle is not within close enough proximity to the vehicle to reasonably prevent unauthorized access to the vehicle or its contents.
(d) This section does not apply to a peace officer during circumstances requiring immediate aid or action that are within the course of his or her official duties.
(e) This section does not supersede any local ordinance that regulates the storage of handguns in unattended vehicles if the ordinance was in effect before the date of enactment of the act that added this section.

Penal Code 16850
As used in this part, “locked container” means a secure container that is fully enclosed and locked by a padlock, keylock, combination lock, or similar locking device. The term “locked container” does not include the utility or glove compartment of a motor vehicle.

It’s that last part that caused the ambiguity on whether the Lock’er Down unit was legal or not. For transporting, yes (which is covered by a whole different code in California). But for unattended storage, the wording of the law where it states, “…does not include the utility or glove compartment of a motor vehicle” plus “…locked container that is permanently affixed to the vehicle’s interior and not in plain view” made it unclear if simply making the center console lockable met the requirement of this law.

I never was able to get a clear answer so rather than take a chance, and because I was out of time, I decided to go a different route by installing a separate safe (locked container) inside the center console (not in plain view) and attaching it in such a way that made it “permanently affixed”. While the center console is in plain sight, a locked container inside the center console would not be in plain sight. It’s not the ideal solution, but seems to meet all the legal requirements.

I found this dude on YouTube that described the installation of a SENTRY Quick Access Digital Pistol Safe (model QAP1E) inside the console of his 2010 Tundra. For anyone interested, that video is here:

The video didn’t really answer all my questions though, and one aspect of his installation left me searching for a cleaner and more secure solution for the actual mounting of the safe. In his install, he ran some screws all the way through the side of the console then “filed the threads” on the end of the screws to “not allow the nut to come off inside the safe” should someone try to unscrew it.

Maybe it’s just me but I thought that was kind of a ghetto way to attach the safe, and not very secure since the bolt heads could just be ripped through the plastic if the safe was pried out. So I decided to remove the console completely allowing me to drill the bolt holes only through the inner wall of the console, leaving the bolt heads concealed in between the inner and outer walls. This would serve three purposes.

- One, it would require a thief to either open the safe to get to the nuts, or remove the entire console to get to the bolt heads. With the safe mounted this way however, two of the bolts holding the console to the floor are inaccessible making simple removal of the console impossible. You MUST remove the safe in order to remove the console.

- Two, it would look nice with no bolt or screw heads sticking out the side of the console on the passenger side plus there would be no visual cues to a potential thief that the safe was even there.

- Three, I could put a big metal backing plate under the bolt heads (I used aluminum) to make it almost impossible to simply pry the safe out of the console.

This is the safe I used, which you can buy from many retailers such as Amazon, Lowes, Home Depot, and Walmart.

This is what it looks like out of the box.

The instructions say it is intended to be mounted horizontally but as shown in the video, it can be mounted vertically as well, and there is just enough room inside the Tundra console for it to fit, and for the door to swing down.

My Tundra does not have any ventilation ducts running through the console so this installation may not work if yours does. I have no idea since I can’t see what the ducting actually looks like but the pics may help you figure it out if that is an obstacle for you.

Anyway, I removed the console, first the forward cup holder part (just pry it up, it’s held in by numerous clips), then the actual console/armrest part. You do not have to remove either seat to perform this installation. This is what it will look like with the console removed.

Next I made a backing plate from a piece of 1-1/2 in X 1/8-in flat aluminum bar stock. I just used the safe as a gauge to cut it to the proper length, then I taped it to the outside of the safe, opened the door, and marked the spot to drill the two mounting holes from the inside. Here’s a shot of the finished backing plate sitting on the safe. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It will be hidden once the installation is complete.

Next was drilling the mounting holes in the console, then attaching the backing plate and bolts between the inner and outer walls of the console on the right side.

I simply put the safe in place inside the console and made sure it had clearance for the door to open, then marked the spot to drill the holes through the base of the safe from the inside, then I removed the safe.

Next I pried the right (passenger side) outer wall of the console away from the console box. There is a false duct there and this piece is held on with a combination of glue, clips, notches and tabs. The glue is only on the thin structural ribs so it’s easy to pry it away and break the adhesive. Here’s a bit of a blurry shot that I took while actually prying the right side off the console.

With the right (passenger) side exterior wall removed from the console I drilled the mounting holes from the inside where I marked earlier using the safe. This is what it looks like once the holes are drilled.

Once the two holes were drilled I affixed the backing plate and bolts. I used M10 x 20mm x 1.0 bolts. Because I needed the backing plate and bolts to stay in place long enough to get the nuts tightened down after the console was reassembled, installed, and the safe in place, I spread some clear silicone sealant on the back of the backing plate, and on the flange of the bolt heads, installed everything in place, and let it dry before proceeding. Here’s the plate after installation but before I re-installed the outer console wall.

Once the silicone was dry, I reassembled the console, and re-installed it into the vehicle. I used a little super glue on the structural ribs where I had previously broken the adhesive to separate the pieces.

In these two shots you can see the two bolt holes protruding through the inside wall of the console for mounting the safe, and on the next image, the original right-side console wall with no bolt or screw heads showing and nothing to provide any visual clues that there is a safe mounted inside the console.

Next I placed the safe inside the console, lined up the mounting holes with the bolts, and secured it in place. For hardware I used flat washers followed by regular hex nuts, followed by nylock nuts. Here’s two images, one with the safe installed and the door open, and one with the door closed.

Finally, one of the questions the video didn’t really answer was whether the original center tray would fit once the safe was installed. As you can see, it actually fits perfectly.

Obviously this solution is not for quick access of the weapon, which is the entire point of California’s regulations for both transporting and storing. Unless you have a California issued CCW permit, you aren’t supposed to be able to access a weapon in your vehicle quickly.

Also obvious is the fact that I won’t be able to store a bunch of crap in the main compartment of the console any longer. I’ll have to limit my collection of stuff to the center tray and keep the main compartment fairly clear of stuff. One other thing to note is that this installation in no way interferes with the power outlet inside the console.

Anyway, after all the B.S. I went thorough to research this then do the actual install, I thought I’d share it to save someone else the trouble who may be facing the same or similar dilemma. Hope it helps someone down the road.
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