FACT CHECK: Is It Illegal To Wear A Face Mask While Legally Carrying A Concealed Weapon In North Carolina?
A viral Facebook post shared more than 5,100 times claims people in North Carolina can be charged with class H felonies if they have concealed carry permits and carry while wearing face masks.
The cited statute has been temporarily amended to allow masks for health reasons. The claim has been refuted by attorneys and North Carolina sheriff’s offices.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people wear face covering in public to help curb the spread of the new coronavirus. In accordance with those guidelines, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced on June 24 that face coverings must be worn “in public places, indoors or outdoors,” according to The Associated Press.
A viral post alleges that it is a class H felony to wear a mask while legally carrying a concealed weapon in North Carolina under state statute 14-12. The sentence for a class H felony can be up to a maximum of 39 months in prison, per the North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission.
“For those of you like myself that has your concealed carry permit and carry, you can be charged with a class H felony for wearing a mask and concealed carrying,” the post reads. “Once you have a felony you can no longer carry.” (RELATED: Viral Image Claims It Is Illegal To Wear A Mask If You Have A Concealed Carry Permit In Pennsylvania)
The state statute 14-12.8 mandates that “no person or persons shall in this State, while wearing any mask, hood or device whereby the person, face or voice is disguised so as to conceal the identity of the wearer, enter, or appear upon or within the public property of any municipality or county of the State, or of the State of North Carolina.”
However, the North Carolina state legislature temporarily amended statute 14-12 in May to allow any person to wear a mask “for the purpose of ensuring the physical health or safety of the wearer or others” according to local ABC affiliate WLOS. The amendment stipulated that a person wearing a mask for health reasons must remove it upon the request of a law enforcement officer.
Gregory Herman-Giddens, an attorney with the Southern Gun Law Group, confirmed with the Daily Caller in an email that wearing a mask for health reasons does not violate the law.
“It certainly could be used as grounds, but the statute uses the word ‘disguised’ which, as you say, means purposefully concealing one’s identity,” Herman‑Giddens said. “So wearing a mask for health reasons, particularly if under a governmental order, would not violate the law.”
Ron Shook, a criminal defense attorney, also told the Caller that the Facebook post was “totally wrong.”
“If you’re wearing a mask for the health and safety of yourself and others and you’re carrying … a concealed carry permit, and you fit within that exception, you’re fine,” Shook said in a phone interview.
The sheriff’s offices for Guildford County, Forsyth County and Cabarrus County, all located in North Carolina, have debunked the claim on social media as well.
“As for COVID-19, the bottom line is that if you have a valid Concealed Carry permit, you may carry a concealed handgun while wearing a mask as protection from COVID-19 until August 1, 2020 (unless that date is extended by the Governor and/or General Assembly),” reads a press release from the Guildford County Sheriff’s Office. “The mask must, however, be worn for health/safety reasons – not to hide or disguise your identity – and the mask must be removed if you are asked to do so by a Law Enforcement Officer.”