Imagine this scenario: you walk into your car, and you find your windows broken and your gun missing. In the unfortunate scenario where your gun is stolen, you must know the proper steps to take. North Carolina gun laws require you to take appropriate actions following the theft of a gun. If you’re a certified gun owner, it pays to know this so you know what to do if you encounter such a situation.
Overview of North Carolina Gun Laws
The North Carolina gun laws have changed their stance on gun purchase and permits over the years. Since North Carolina gun deaths are among the highest in the US, legislators have repealed the permit to purchase handguns and several other gun safety laws.
The fundamental principles in North Carolina gun laws, as of 2023, are as follows:
- A permit is required for concealed carrying, especially in public spaces.
- Firearm owners must have secure storage or child access prevention measures.
- Law enforcement officials can use the federal tracing system to trace all guns recovered at crime scenes.
- Individuals involved in assault or other violence-related crimes are barred from carrying guns and other firearms. Felony convicts are also barred from carrying guns in NC.
- No guns are allowed on college campuses, K-12 schools, capitol grounds, and sites of political protests.
- Anyone who has a restraining order against them, especially for domestic abuse cases, is not allowed to carry a gun.
Steps to Take When Your Gun is Stolen in North Carolina
Given the rate of gun deaths in North Carolina, it’s no surprise that the state imposes strict laws on gun ownership and use. Therefore, a stolen gun is a serious matter since it could mean that individuals without proper permission to carry and use the gun have one in their possession. Gun owners must take three essential steps upon finding out that their gun is stolen.
Step 1: Keep a record.
The first step should happen before the gun is stolen. It is part of responsible gun ownership to record the guns you have permission for. Since there is no gun registry in North Carolina, it would be difficult for law enforcement officials to keep track of your guns. It is the owner’s responsibility to maintain records of their guns.
When keeping a record of your guns, make a list of the model, make, and serial number. In addition, you should record the purchase date by keeping the receipt as proof of purchase. You should also take a photo of the gun with the serial number visible if possible.
These records of the gun help trace the gun should it be stolen, especially for the use of law enforcers.
Step 2: Contact an attorney.
The next step you need to take when your gun is stolen in North Carolina is to contact your attorney. This step is crucial when there is a developing case, such as a robbery. Aside from calling your attorney in North Carolina, you must call 911 or alert law enforcement officials.
Once you have ensured the immediate environment is safe, you can discuss the next steps with your attorney. The most important concern is ensuring your safety and that of the public. Since there is a loose firearm, it would be hard to determine what the individual intends to use the gun for. You should also trace the gun immediately as it can be tied to you, the owner, if crimes are committed using the gun.
When discussing how the gun was stolen from you, your attorney will ask you questions about the gun storage or any possibility of negligence on the owner’s part. The reason this part is crucial is because gun laws exist in North Carolina that recommend the safe storage of guns and firearms. If it was determined that you were negligent in its storage or possession, you could face liabilities.
Therefore, it is a good idea to speak with your attorney before you alert the police. Otherwise, you could incriminate yourself by prematurely calling the police simply because you thought it was the right thing to do after your gun was stolen. A licensed criminal defense attorney in North Carolina can offer the best legal advice on handling this situation and ensure you won’t be in legal trouble.
Step 3: Alert the police.
The final step is to disclose the gun theft to the police. In North Carolina, you are not legally required to report a stolen gun to the police. However, it is best that you do this to avoid legal complications if your stolen gun is used in committing a crime or appears at a crime scene. If you fail to report the stolen gun and it is used in a crime, the police will question you for it, assuming the gun was in your possession all along.
Reporting that your gun was stolen breaks the “chain of custody.” It is especially crucial when you have reported the stolen gun before the crime occurred. It establishes your lack of involvement in the crime since it was no longer in your possession during the criminal act.
Seeking Legal Advice is Necessary
As previously mentioned, the North Carolina gun law requires gun owners to have safe storage for their firearms. It is also crucial that you do so for your safety and that of the general public. Storing your guns properly ensures that only you, the one with the permit, can possess and use that gun. It could be a safety concern if it were out of your possession, as you might be liable for it.
Reporting a stolen gun is a necessary step, along with contacting your NC attorney. It shows that you acted responsibly by reporting the stolen gun to minimize liability.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, contact your attorney immediately. A qualified attorney can advise you on ensuring you won’t be considered negligent or avoid facing liabilities from crimes that occur using the stolen gun. You should speak with an attorney before contacting the police to protect your rights.