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North Carolina does not prohibit mask wearing and ‘concealed carry’

June 24, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: In North Carolina, you can be charged with a class H felony if you have a concealed carry permit and carry while wearing a mask, according to state statute 14-12. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. North Carolina state statutes do not prohibit people with permits to carry concealed guns from doing so while wearing a mask. 

THE FACTS: As counties in North Carolina began requiring masks to prevent spread of the coronavirus, posts online have circulated suggesting that gun owners permitted to carry a concealed gun would face a felony charge if they carry while wearing a mask. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that face coverings would be required while out in public saying that “people must wear face coverings when in public places, indoors or outdoors.”

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The posts online warn that those who decide to concealed carry and wear a mask can be charged with a felony. 

“Once you have a felony you can no longer carry,” stated one post with more than 5,000 shares on Facebook. The posts online referenced “NC Gen. Statute 14-12” as the reason state residents with “concealed carry” permits could not carry their gun and wear a mask at the same time. 

The state statute 14-12.8 says: “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.”

In May, as part of its Covid-19 Recovery Act, the North Carolina state legislature made a temporary exception to the state’s mask law due to public health concerns. The bill also stipulates that a person wearing a mask shall remove the mask upon request of a law enforcement officer. 

The law dates to the 1950s, when masks were banned in public. Several states passed such laws at the time in response to the Ku Klux Klan. 

“We are not aware of any statutes that would prohibit people from continuing to concealed carry, which is their legal right in North Carolina, and also wear a mask to protect themselves,” Patrick Ryan, spokesman for North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger, said.

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The rumors online also caught the attention of the Iredell County Sheriff who addressed the posts on Facebook saying that his office had received questions about whether they could conceal carry and wear a mask citing the North Carolina General Statute 14-12.8. 

“Our attorney has researched this issue and we can assure you, there is no General Statute prohibiting you from wearing a mask to protect yourself from the virus and legally carrying concealed,” he said on Facebook.  

The Iredell County Sheriff’s Attorney Adam Dillard also confirmed with The Associated Press that concealed carry permit holders can carry and wear masks. 

“I don’t think there’s anybody around that’s going to say you can’t wear a mask for your personal protection, and protection of others if you are carrying a concealed weapon,” he said. 

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536