Masks and Firearms: the Law in NC

With many businesses requiring customers to be masked, and now a statewide order from Governor Cooper requiring it, the question naturally arises: Is it illegal to carry a concealed weapon while wearing a mask?

There is no law specifically prohibiting a person with a concealed handgun permit from lawfully carrying a handgun concealed while wearing a mask. However, it is illegal to wear a mask for any reason, according to these statutes:

  • G.S. 14-12.7 – Wearing of masks, hoods, etc. on public ways – Class 1 misdemeanor
  • G.S. 14-12.8 – Wearing masks, hoods, etc. on public property – Class 1 misdemeanor
  • G.S. 14-12.9 – Entry, etc. upon premises of another while wearing mask, hood or other disguise – Class 1 misdemeanor
  • G.S. 14-12.10 – Holding meetings or demonstrations while wearing masks, hoods, etc. – Class 1 misdemeanor
  • G.S. 14-12.13 – Placing exhibit with intention of intimidating, etc, another (applies whether masked or unmasked) – Class H felony
  • G.S. 14-12.14 – Placing exhibit while wearing mask, hood, or other disguise – Class H felony

G.S. 14-12.11 provides some exceptions. The exceptions apply to all of the offenses listed above except for G.S. 14-12.13. Also, Section 4.3 of S.L. 2020-3 allows masks worn “for the purpose of ensuring the physical health or safety of the wearer or others.” This exception expires on August 1, 2020, unless the General Assembly extends it.

Bottom line: At least until August 1, 2020, you can wear a mask for health purposes and carry a concealed weapon (unless you are also committing acts prohibited by G.S. 14-12.13). If/when this exception expires, it is illegal to wear a mask for any reason other than the exceptions listed in G.S. 14-12.11.

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