Rules on carrying guns openly in NC complicated
Posted August 16
Raleigh, N.C. — Many of the white nationalists who rallied in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend had guns strapped to their hips. Their actions were legal because Virginia allows open carry of handguns for anyone 18 or older.
Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said, for example, that visible sidearms wouldn't be allowed at a similar rally in North Carolina.
"Protests, you cannot carry," Harrison said, adding that gun owners need to know the nuances of the law.
Those who carry guns openly can't do so at organized sporting events. Schools are off limits, and so are state and federal parks.
At state rest areas, open carry is legal.
Unless otherwise posted, open carry is allowed in restaurants that don't sell alcohol. Once alcohol is added to the mix, however, restrictions apply.
"Open carry can't go into a restaurant that's serving alcohol, but open carry, there's no restriction on that person if he's drinking (elsewhere)," Harrison said.
A bill to ease North Carolina's open carry restrictions cleared the House in June and remains pending in the Senate.
Yet, some gun owners question the need for looser rules.
"If it's not a law enforcement officer, it just seems to me, even as a concealed carry permit holder, really weird that someone would want to walk around with a gun on their side," James Sauls said. "It just seems like maybe you're trying to intimidate others."
"I don't have a problem with open carry," David Wintler said. "It's the mindset of the person carrying it that concerns me."
Harrison said he prefers concealed carry, which requires a obtaining a permit and undergoing training.
"At least you know what the law says and what you can do and can't do, and if you violate that law, you know what to expect," he said. "Open carry, you don't get that."
Despite the violence in Charlottesville that killed a woman and left nearly two dozen people injured, no shots were fired in the confrontation between white nationalists and counter-protesters, and no gun charges were filed.