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Can I Carry My Gun in My Car in North Carolina?

By Randall & Stump excels in criminal defense, serving clients in Charlotte, NC & other surrounding cities.
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Category Firearms, Weapons Charges
Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Hand gun in open car glove compartment

Gun laws can be complicated, and understanding when and where you can have a gun is critical to avoiding legal trouble. Many North Carolinians may question whether they can have a gun in their car under the new open carry laws. After all, nearly 50% of residents own a firearm. Even with the right to carry, the state has some restrictions residents must follow, if not for legality but for the safety of fellow citizens and law enforcement agents.

Learn more about how to transport your weapons in a vehicle in the Tar Heel state.

What Is Open Carry Versus Concealed Carry?

When you’re taking a firearm in a vehicle, you’ll need to consider whether you can legally carry a concealed weapon or if you’re permitted to carry a weapon openly.

To conceal carry a weapon, North Carolina is a “shall-issue” state, which means you must have a concealed handgun permit issued by the state. To qualify for a permit, you must be at least 21 years old and completed an approved firearms training course. North Carolina courts don’t always agree on how “concealed” applies to firearms. Some cases have ruled that a handgun sticking out of a pocket was a concealed weapon. Other cases ruled that if a weapon is partially visible or can be identified as a firearm, then it wasn’t concealed.

North Carolina law allows people 18 and older to openly carry a firearm if they can own one legally and don’t have felony convictions. As the term implies, “openly” carrying a firearm means it’s visibly displayed. It could be holstered or in a sling, but if the gun can be seen plainly, it is “openly” carried.

There are restrictions for openly carrying a firearm. You cannot carry a gun onto school grounds, on the State Capitol grounds, and some other locations. Some counties may regulate open carry on public property.

How Does Open Carry Apply to My Vehicle?

North Carolina’s laws for transporting firearms are distinct. They outline how not to transport a weapon, but not necessarily where they must be. If you’re traveling without a concealed carry permit, the weapon must be displayed openly. It must be visible and readily seen.

You can, however, place the weapon in the trunk: state law permits you to conceal the weapon if it isn’t within reach of anyone in the vehicle.

For anyone with a concealed carry permit, the weapon can be concealed, but it can’t be accessible by anyone within the car. That means you can’t keep the gun under the front seats, in a center console, or an unlocked glove box.

Can I Put My Gun in My Trunk?

It’s legal to drive with a gun in the trunk of your car whether you have a concealed weapon permit or not. Even though the firearm is concealed, it’s locked and inaccessible to anyone riding in the vehicle.

If you’re driving a vehicle with access to the trunk area, like an SUV or van, your weapon must be securely locked away in a container.

Can I Have My Gun in The Glove Box?

You can transport your weapon in your glove compartment if it’s locked. It might not be wise to store your firearm there if you’re also keeping your important documents inside. If you’re stopped by police and need to show them your insurance and registration, the officer could feel threatened by the weapon’s presence, which might create more trouble for you than expected.

Are There Penalties for Concealing a Weapon in a Vehicle?

Under North Carolina law, illegally carrying a concealed weapon anywhere but your own property could mean penalties if you’re charged and convicted. These charges don’t apply to anyone with a concealed weapons permit.

For your first offense, you could be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor. If you’re convicted of illegally concealing a weapon, you face a maximum 60-day jail sentence and a fine. You may also be sentenced to supervised probation or a suspended sentence if you’re a first-time offender with no prior convictions.

Any second or subsequent offenses could be charged with a Class H Felony, which means you face 4-39 months of imprisonment. That length is determined by your criminal history.

Call today if you were arrested for carrying a gun in your vehicle.

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What Are Defenses for Carrying a Concealed Weapon in a Vehicle?

You should fight any concealed weapons charges with the help of a North Carolina criminal defense attorney. The prosecution must prove you broke the law beyond a “reasonable” doubt, so your attorney can help you craft a defense that can get the charges reduced or dropped. Even if a conviction appears to have a short penalty, those sentences can add up and affect your life. Besides imprisonment, you could face a social stigma, lose your right to own a weapon, and more.

Possible defenses for carrying a weapon in your car include:

  • Owning a Concealed Handgun Permit
  • The weapon was not concealed
  • You didn’t know the weapon was present
  • There were issues with the investigation

Your attorney can investigate your circumstances and help find essential evidence to protect your rights and your freedom.

Get Help From North Carolina Weapons Charge Lawyers Now

When you’re accused of illegally carrying a firearm in your car, you need assistance from a legal team who understands North Carolina’s weapons laws. You should turn to Randall & Stump, Criminal Defense Attorneys. We will thoroughly review your case and offer our objective analysis of your best course of action. No case is the same: we’re ready to find the aspects that can help you reduce or avoid charges.

You can call (980) 237-4579 or use our online form to schedule your free, confidential consultation.

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