A decade ago, I wrote a post about the circumstances under which police may stop a person who is carrying a gun openly. A lot has changed since then. The Supreme Court has strengthened the Second Amendment in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, 597 U.S. __ (2022). The General Assembly has eliminated the requirement that North Carolina residents obtain a permit before buying a handgun. See S.L. 2023-8. And empirical scholarship suggests that many more Americans are carrying guns on a daily basis. See Ali Awhani-Robar et al., Trend in Loaded Handgun Carrying Among Adult Handgun Owners in the United States, 2015-2019, Am. J. Pub. Health (2022) (finding that in 2019, “approximately 6 million [gun owners carried] daily,” which was “twice the 3 million who did so in 2015”). So it is a good time to revisit the question.
Over the past couple weeks, North Carolina has joined the growing list of states in which armed demonstrators have gathered to express their opposition to virus-related restrictions on economic activity and social gatherings, or to more generally express their opposition to any restrictions on their Second Amendment rights. Dressed in patriotic or military-style gear, and armed with a variety of openly displayed handguns, rifles, or even an (inert) AT-4 anti-tank weapon, these groups have processed along city streets and sidewalks or gathered in public locations like a historic cemetery and a downtown restaurant.
Now, particularly in light of an incident over the weekend where two local attorneys walking with their children felt threatened by a demonstrator wielding a large pipe wrench, a lot of people are asking the same question: are these armed demonstrations legal?
The question seems simple. The answer is more complicated.
Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler has stated that firearms, even those carried pursuant to a concealed carry permit, will be prohibited at the North Carolina State Fair, which opens next week. Grass Roots North Carolina, a gun-rights group, contends that the Commissioner’s policy is unlawful. In the post, I’ll explore the legal issue.
Case study: the Neenah stop. Recently in Neenah, WI, a woman called the police to report a man with a gun strapped to his back walking down the street. The call was placed to the non-emergency police number and the caller didn’t report that the man was doing anything threatening, but she did suggest that … Read more