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What to Know About Unlawful Carry of a Firearm in North Carolina

In North Carolina, firearms laws are complex and carry significant consequences for violations. If you’re a gun owner or considering becoming one, understanding what constitutes “unlawful carry of a firearm” is crucial.

This blog aims to demystify the legal jargon and provide you with a clear, straightforward guide to the rules, regulations, and potential penalties you could face for unlawfully carrying a firearm in North Carolina.

Whether you’re a seasoned gun owner or new to the world of firearms, this information is essential for responsible gun ownership and staying on the right side of the law.

What is Unlawful Carry of a Firearm in NC?

According to USCCA, “North Carolina is a shall-issue state with concealed handgun permits issued at the county level by the local sheriff’s office.” So if you want to carry a concealed gun, you need a permit to lawfully carry handguns. However, open carry is often legal. Other types of weapons vary depending on what they are.

Ways You Can Face Arrest for Carrying a Concealed Firearm in NC

In North Carolina, carrying concealed weapons comes with rules and regulations that you must follow to avoid legal repercussions. Violating these rules can lead to arrest and criminal charges.

Here are some specific ways you can face arrest for carrying a concealed weapon in the state, based on the North Carolina General Statutes.

Consuming Alcohol or Controlled Substances

It is unlawful to carry a concealed handgun while consuming alcohol or if you have any alcohol or controlled substances in your system. This rule applies unless the substance was lawfully obtained and taken in therapeutically appropriate amounts or you are on your own property. Violating this condition can lead to arrest

Carrying in Prohibited Locations

Certain locations are off-limits for carrying a concealed handgun. These include law enforcement or correctional facilities, State or federal offices, and private premises where carrying is explicitly prohibited by posted notice. Carrying a concealed handgun in these places is a violation of the law and can result in arrest

Failure to Disclose to Law Enforcement

If you have a concealed handgun permit, you must disclose to any law enforcement officer that you hold a valid permit and are carrying a concealed handgun when approached or addressed by the officer. Failure to do so can result in penalties and possibly arrest

Carrying Without a Permit

If you are found to be carrying a concealed handgun without a valid permit, you can face arrest and criminal charges. Penalties for this violation range from infractions to misdemeanors and felonies, depending on the specific circumstances

Carrying on School Grounds

Carrying a concealed handgun on school premises is illegal unless the weapon is properly secured in a locked motor vehicle or a locked container fixed to the vehicle. Violating this rule can lead to arrest.

Carrying in Areas of Assemblies or Demonstrations

Concealed firearms are illegal in places where public gatherings or demonstrations are happening. Unlawful carrying can cause you to face arrest.

Carrying Under Federal Law Prohibition

Certain areas are off-limits for concealed carry due to federal law jurisdiction restrictions. Unlawful carrying of a concealed handgun in these areas violates the law and can result in arrest.

Carrying in Businesses with “No Weapons” Signs

Private establishments, such as businesses, can ban concealed weapons on their premises by posting appropriate signs. If you ignore these signs and bring a concealed weapon, you can face arrest for an unlawful carry.

Carrying in Private Healthcare Facilities

Healthcare facilities may have restrictions against weapons. If you carry a concealed firearm into a healthcare facility that prohibits weapons, you could face legal trouble and arrest.

When Open Carry Can Bring Arrest by Law Enforcement Officers

Carrying in Prohibited Locations

Open carry may be legal in North Carolina, but certain locations like government buildings, schools, and private properties with posted “No Weapons” signs are off-limits. Carrying openly in these gun-free zones can lead to arrest.

“Open carry is legal in North Carolina without a permit. However, counties may regulate the display of firearms on public roads, sidewalks, alleys or other public property.” (1)

Carrying While Consuming Alcohol or Controlled Substances

If you openly carry a firearm while consuming alcohol or controlled substances, you violate the law. This is similar to the rules for concealed carry and can result in legal repercussions.

Carrying During Public Gatherings or Demonstrations

Open carry is generally not allowed in areas where public gatherings or demonstrations are taking place. If you are caught carrying openly in such areas, you could face arrest.

Carrying in Private Businesses with “No Weapons” Signs

Some private businesses may post signs prohibiting the carrying of weapons, including open carry. Ignoring these signs and carrying openly can result in legal trouble.

Carrying in Healthcare Facilities

Healthcare facilities like hospitals may have policies against the open carrying of firearms. Violating these policies can lead to arrest.

Carrying in Places Where Alcohol is Sold and Consumed

Certain venues that sell and serve alcohol may also prohibit the open carrying of firearms. Carrying in such places can be illegal and result in arrest.

It’s crucial to be aware of these rules and regulations to avoid running afoul of the law. If you face charges for carrying a firearm in North Carolina, consulting an experienced attorney is essential for navigating the legal process.

What Is a “Deadly Weapon” in NC?

In North Carolina, it’s legal to carry a simple pocketknife. However, the term “deadly weapon” encompasses a wide range of items that can cause harm or death.

It is illegal in NC to carry any of these deadly weapons concealed or open carry:

  • Bowie knife
  • Dirk
  • Dagger
  • Slung shot
  • Loaded cane
  • Metallic knuckles
  • Razor
  • Shuriken
  • Stun gun

You can face penalties for carrying these items, even if you have a concealed carry permit for a handgun.

Penalties for Unlawful Carrying of a Deadly Weapon

Engaging in Concealed Carry Without a Permit

Carrying a handgun without a permit or carrying one of the above-listed deadly weapons is a Class 2 misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class H felony for a second or subsequent offense.

Class 2 misdemeanors can result in up to 2 months in jail, along with fines, court fees, a criminal record, and more. A Class H felony can lead to 25 months in prison, parole period, and other consequences.

However, you can face more than one charge at a time. For example, if you’re in gun-free zones, you could face additional accusations and a need to fight more serious charges from the criminal justice system.

Convicted Felons:

If you are a convicted felon, carrying any weapon, including a deadly weapon, can result in Class G felony charges, which carry up to 31 months in prison. Any weapon is an unlawful possession.

Private Property

If a private property owner has posted signs prohibiting carrying a dangerous weapon, ignoring these signs can result in criminal charges.

Public Places

Certain public places like schools, government buildings, and areas where public gatherings are taking place are off-limits for carrying deadly weapons, even if they are not the ones listed above.

Federal Unlawful Possession

Federal laws also apply, and carrying a deadly weapon in places like federal buildings can result in federal charges.

Understanding the laws surrounding deadly weapons is crucial for responsible ownership and avoiding legal complications. If you face charges for carrying a deadly weapon, consulting an experienced attorney is essential for navigating the legal landscape.

Facing Unlawful Possession? We Can Help

At Scharff Law, we understand that facing a charge for unlawful possession of a weapon can be a daunting experience. The legal landscape surrounding weapon possession is complex, and the consequences of a conviction can be severe. However, it’s crucial to remember that being charged is not the same as being convicted.

We can use various defenses to protect your rights and potentially lead to a favorable outcome.

Here are some of the defenses that could work in your favor:

Lawful Possession

One of the strongest defenses against a charge of unlawful possession is proving that you had legal ownership or possession of the weapon. Documentation of purchase or a valid permit for concealed carry could help establish your lawful possession.

Lack of Knowledge

If you can prove that you were unaware of the weapon’s presence, this could work in your favor. For instance, if someone else left the weapon in your vehicle or property without your knowledge, you may not be held responsible for its illegal possession.

Invalid Search and Seizure

Another common defense is challenging the legality of how law enforcement found the weapon. If the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights by conducting an illegal search and seizure, any evidence obtained during the search might be inadmissible in court.

Mistaken Identity

If evidence suggests that the weapon belonged to someone else and you were mistakenly identified as the owner, this can be a valid defense against the charges.

Unlawful Police Conduct

Evidence of police misconduct, such as planting evidence or coercing a confession, can lead to the dismissal of the charges.


If you can demonstrate that the weapon was in your possession solely for self-defense purposes and you had a reasonable belief that your life was in danger, you might have a valid defense.

At Scharff Law, we are committed to providing you with the best possible criminal defense. Our experienced attorneys will assess your case, identify the most appropriate defense strategies, and guide you through the legal process, ensuring you receive a fair trial.

If you’re facing charges for unlawful possession of a weapon, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a free consultation. We’re here to help.