In Criminal by Greensboro Attorney

North Carolina is an “open carry” state, but there are limits to that right, according to a [https://nccriminallaw.sog.unc.edu/going-armed-to-the-terror-of-the-people/].

If a unicorn walks about the streets of North Carolina with his horn, is he going armed in terror of the public? What about if a person walks with a firearm strapped to his hip?

North Carolina is classified as an “open carry” state, which means that a person can carry a firearm where it is plainly visible without a permit. But, notably, this right can be curtailed by municipalities: for example, Chapel Hill has a size restriction with regard to openly carrying firearms.

But then there is the crime of Going Armed in Terror of the Public, a common law offense defined by State v. Dawson, 272 N.C. 535 (1968 and subsequent cases.

The North Carolina Crimes Book, published by the North Carolina School of Government[https://nccriminallaw.sog.unc.edu/going-armed-to-the-terror-of-the-people/] defines the elements of the offense as follows:

  • Arming one’s self with an unusually dangerous weapon
  • For the purpose of of terrifying others AND
  • Goes about or on public highways
  • In a manner to terrorize people.

It’s not hard to find blogs concerning confusion about Open Carry vs. Going Armed in Terror of the Public. But one must be careful when it comes to these blogs because many are written by non-lawyers and contain erroneous information. For example, one talks about the “statute” regarding the crime. It’s not a statutory crime; it’s common law, which means that it is not set out by North Carolina General Statutes but, rather, by case law.

To promote the right for a person to openly carry a firearm, some gun rights groups have organized meetings where they openly carry firearms in public, or going to restaurants etc.