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North Carolina rules on concealed carrying with coronavirus masks

Yes, you can wear a coronavirus mask if you are legally carrying a concealed handgun. Yes, there are nuances to that rule in North Carolina.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office said it received several questions Tuesday about whether or not people who legally carry concealed handguns are required to wear face masks for coronavirus protection.

In short, yes, it is legal to wear a mask and carry a concealed weapon if the carrier has a valid CCH permit, the Guilford County Sheriff's Office said. However, this applies only to masks being used to protect themselves or others from the COVID-19 virus, law enforcement officials said, 

Additionally, North Carolinians must remove the mask when asked to do so by a Law Enforcement Officer during a traffic stop (including at a DWI or license checkpoint or roadblock), or any time when that Officer is investigating a crime and has probable cause or reasonable suspicion that the person wearing the mask may have committed a crime, the Guilford County Sheriff's Office said.

Normally, Sections 14-12.7 through 14-12.10 of the NC General Statute make it a crime for a person to wear a mask or to conceal or disguise their identity on public and private property whether they are carrying a firearm or not. There are exceptions (which are in Section 14-12.11 of NC state statutes) that allow people to wear masks in certain circumstances like riding a motorcycle, or for safety reasons while working on a job (e.g., a carpenter’s dust mask).

However, because of a piece of temporary legislation Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law on May 4, the Guilford County Sheriff's Office has the authority to allow face coverings. The temporary legislation will expire on August 1, 2020, unless it is extended by the governor.

The Guilford County Sheriff's Office released these clarifications following Monday's emergency proclamation in Greensboro requiring people to wear masks in public within city limits.

Keep in mind, CCH permit holders must still obey all other statutory restrictions and limitations on carrying a concealed firearm. For example, it is still illegal to carry concealed in a courthouse.

Guilford county residents with questions about these CCH statutes may call 336-641-3161 and speak to Deputy County Attorney Jim Secor.  Secor is the legal advisor to Sheriff Danny H. Rogers and the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office.

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