North Carolina takes your right to bear arms very seriously. Not only is this right guaranteed under the Second Amendment in the United States Constitution, it is also guaranteed by Section 30 of the North Carolina State Constitution.
However, this right is not absolute: There are limitations that you need to abide by, or risk prosecution. Two of the most important limitations have to do with the concealed carry of firearms, and the possession by a convicted felon.
Carrying Concealed Firearms in North Carolina
Openly carrying a weapon is legal in North Carolina. However, hiding the fact that you are carrying a deadly weapon is another matter. In North Carolina, N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-269 makes it illegal to intentionally carry a concealed weapon anywhere, except on your own property.
However, there is an important exception to this rule. You can carry a concealed weapon if:
- That weapon is a handgun,
- You have a lawfully-issued concealed handgun permit, and
- You are complying with the rules of that permit.
Violating North Carolina's concealed carry laws is a Class 2 misdemeanor on your first offense. A conviction can lead to up to 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. A second or subsequent violation of this statute is a Class H felony.
Possession of a Firearm by a Felon
Another important limitation on your right to bear arms in North Carolina is the Felony Firearms Act.
This Act prohibits anyone from possessing a firearm in the state of North Carolina if they have been convicted of a felony crime, unless that felony was a white collar crime like unfair trade practices. This prohibition against possessing a firearm applies to anyone who has ever been convicted of a felony, even if that conviction occurred decades ago. The Felony Firearms Act also applies everywhere in the state, prohibiting possession on your own property or in your own home.
The Act, however, does provide an avenue for people who have been convicted of a felony to restore their rights to own and carry a weapon. N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-415.4 allows people who have only been convicted of a single, nonviolent, felony in their life to petition their local court to restore their firearms rights. However, you can only petition the court if 20 years have passed since you completed your sentence for the prior felony.
If you get arrested and charged for felony firearm possession, a conviction would be a Class G felony, itself. This can come with up to 39 months in jail, though aggravating factors can increase this even further.
North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help
A conviction for a felony crime in North Carolina does not just mean jail time and a steep fine. It also comes with collateral consequences, just one of which is a severe limitation on your right to keep and carry firearms. Even if you have not been convicted of a felony in your past, though, legally carrying a concealed firearm is not easy, and can run afoul of the law quickly.
The criminal defense lawyers at Caulder & Valentine strive to help you keep your rights and use them properly. Contact them online or call their law office at (704) 470-2440.