North Carolina Emergency Restrictions

Via E-mail, an alert reader tipped me off to this story out of King North Carolina:

Stokes County Emergency Services and King Police department have declared a State of Emergency in the county and a curfew in the city of King.

This official State of Emergency includes the following prohibitions:

3. NO FIREARMS: No sale or purchase of any type of firearm, ammunition, explosive, or any possession of such items is allowed off a person’s own premises. [underline and bold in original -ed]

Actually, the original article he pointed me to chronicled the lifting of the curfew and alcohol restrictions, while leaving the firearms restrictions in place, but I searched out the original announcement of the curfew for background.

The reader’s reaction and reason for sending it on to me was “How can this be legal?”

Several states have, since the Katrina gun confiscation fiasco, enacted laws protecting the rights of citizens to defend themselves during times of emergency.

North Carolina isn’t one of them.

North Carolina General Statutes, § 14‑288.12.  Powers of municipalities to enact ordinances to deal with states of emergency, specifically permits localities to institute such restrictions on its citizens.

North Carolina Counties are also permitted to institute such restrictions through a companion section.

What’s more (and even worse in my mind), is that the ban on possessing firearms outside the home isn’t even necessary for localities to implement, it’s automatic:

§ 14‑288.7.  Transporting dangerous weapon or substance during emergency; possessing off premises; exceptions.

(a)       Except as otherwise provided in this section, it is unlawful for any person to transport or possess off his own premises any dangerous weapon or substance in any area:

(1)       In which a declared state of emergency exists; or

(2)       Within the immediate vicinity of which a riot is occurring.

It seems to me that North Carolina Gun Owners have some work to do in protecting their ability to defend themselves during times of emergency.

3 thoughts on “North Carolina Emergency Restrictions

  1. I see what you're talking about but I don't agree with your conclusion.

    I'm no lawyer and perhaps I'm reading it wrong, but I don't think it exempts concealed carry permit holders.

    I believe what you're talking about is § 14‑288.7 (b) which states "This section does not apply to persons exempted from the provisions of G.S. 14‑269 with respect to any activities lawfully engaged in while carrying out their duties." [bold added -ed]

    The bolded part is the first clue that they're not talking about civilians with concealed handgun permits. Looking at the section it refers to confirms this.

    G.S. 14-269 is the section that criminalizes carrying deadly weapons.

    Paragraphs (a) and (a1) define the crime as carrying a concealed deadly weapon, or carrying a concealed firearm without a permit (yes, I realize it's not worded exactly that way, but in this context, I think that's an accurate characterization).

    Paragraph (b) spells out the exemptions for law enforcement or the military.

    It isn't very clear, for sure, but if I'm reading it correctly (and I think I am), the exemption from § 14‑288.7 only applies to those listed in § 14-269 para (b)…i.e. law enforcement or military on duty. The text that I bolded above bears this out because civilians, even with concealed handgun permits, seldom have "duties" to "carry out" that require them to carry their firearms. The bolded text also indicates that even off-duty law enforcement officers are not exempted, but only while "carrying out their duties".

    I've learned over the years to be very literal when reading laws because that's how they will generally be applied. There may be some North Carolina case law that clarifies this issue and may prove me wrong, but short of that, in my opinion, the law cited does NOT exempt concealed handgun permittees from the prohibition on possession of firearms off their own premises during declared emergencies.

    BTW: Even if I'm interpreting § 14‑288.7 incorrectly, the sections that authorize localities and counties to enact ordinances prohibiting firearms carry and sales have NO exemption clause that could be construed to exempt concealed handgun permit holders.

    The local ordinances, as enacted, would have to contain any exemptions for permit holders or even law enforcement because the authorizing section of State Law does not.

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