Storage of a Firearm in Your Glove Compartment

In the Massachusetts firearms case of Commonwealth v. Amaury Reyes, 464 Mass. 245 (2013), the defendant, identified as Amaury Reyes, worked as a correctional officer for the Essex House of Correction. On April 10, 2010, he drove to work carrying his personal firearm on him. Reyes held an unrestricted a Class A LTC. When Reyes, arrived at the House of Correction for work, he could not find a vacant locker to store his handgun. Reyes decided to return to his car and secure his gun along with its holster inside the car’s glove compartment. As Reyes entered work, one of the officers asked if he could search Reyes’ vehicle. Reyes consented to the search and informed the officer that he had secured his firearm inside his car’s glove compartment. The officer asked Reyes if the firearm was outfitted with a cable locking device and Reyes indicated the firearm did not have a cable or trigger lock. Reyes was charged with unlawful storage of his firearm under G.L. c. 140 § 131 (L)(a). After a jury trial, Reyes was convicted and he appealed his conviction and challenged the constitutionality of the secure storage law.

The Massachusetts SJC overturned Reyes’ conviction for other evidentiary issues but held that the Mass. secure storage law is constitutional and does not interfere with the Second Amendment because it requires that a firearm be placed in a “secured locked container.”

Although the SJC did not define what qualifies as a “secured locked container” it did list that “at a minimum, to be secure, any qualifying container must be capable of being unlocked only by means of a key, combination, or other similar means.” 18 U.S.C. §921 (a)(34) (c) (2006) (requiring “secure gun storage or safety device” be designed to unlock only by means of key, combination or other similar means). It was clear from the SJC’s holding that a “motor vehicle itself would not qualify as a secured locked container under G.L. c. 140 § 131 (L)(a). Whether a storing a firearm in a locked glove compartment within a car that is alarmed and locked qualifies as “secured locked container,” was left unanswered. G.L. c. 140 § 131 (L)(a). “does not bar the defendant from carrying a firearm on his person or under his control without a trigger lock or the need to secure it in a locked container either inside or outside of a motor vehicle.” The storage statute only imposes restrictions when the firearm is not in the gun owners’ possession or control and therefore it is does not interfere with an individual’s second amendment right to bear arms.