You may have been told in your concealed carry class that you couldn’t wear a mask while carrying a gun in North Carolina, but that was before the pandemic.
On Wednesday, June 24, the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department provided guidance on the issue – an issue that’s been a hot topic on social media in the county in recent weeks.
The new guidance states: “If you have a valid CCH [Concealed Carry Handgun] permit, it is legal (i.e., it is not a crime) to carry a concealed handgun while wearing a mask, provided that you are wearing the mask to protect yourself or others from the COVID-19 virus.”
The Sheriff’s Department notes that there are some caveats. For instance, the guidelines state that you must “remove the mask when asked to do so by a Law Enforcement Officer during a traffic stop (including at a DWI or license checkpoint or roadblock), or any time when that Officer is investigating a crime and has probable cause or reasonable suspicion that the person wearing the mask may have committed a crime.”
According to Sheriff’s Department officials, the department received several questions recently from concealed carry permit holders as to the legality of carrying a concealed handgun while wearing a mask.
According to the July 24 guidelines, the legal authority that allows for wearing masks while carrying comes from a section of a piece of temporary legislation that was signed into law in early May. That law will expire on Saturday, August 1, unless it’s extended.
The law against wearing masks has been in the NC General Statutes since 1953. That law made it a crime to wear a mask to conceal or disguise identity on public and private property regardless of whether or not the person was carrying a firearm. There were exceptions provided in that legislation. For instance, you could wear a face covering while riding a motorcycle or working on a job that necessitated wearing a protective dust mask.
County residents with specific questions about the applicability of these concealed carry statutes in the time of COVID-19 can call 336-641-3161 and ask Deputy County Attorney Jim Secor.