Can I Carry My Gun in My Car in North Carolina?

Driver Taking Handgun From Glovebox Compartment - can i carry a gun in my car concept

If you own a firearm, it’s important to be aware of when and where you can legally carry it. While North Carolina gun laws allow for the open carry of a long gun or handgun in an automobile without requiring a permit, the law can be complex when it comes to transporting or keeping a firearm in your car. If you intend to bring a gun into your vehicle, it’s vital to understand the conditions that must be met in order to comply with the law.

What’s the Difference Between Open and Concealed Carry in North Carolina?

To understand the North Carolina gun laws when it comes to vehicles, it’s important to first know the difference between the open and concealed carry laws. While both the U.S. Constitution and North Carolina law protect your right to bear arms, there are certain restrictions. If you are 18, can legally own a firearm, and have no felony convictions, open carry is allowed in the state without a permit.

But even though open carry is legal throughout North Carolina, it is restricted in certain places, such as on school property, the State Capitol Grounds, and other sensitive locations. Individual counties may also regulate the open display of firearms on public property within its jurisdiction.

When it comes to concealed carry, North Carolina is a “shall-issue” state. Carrying a concealed weapon is legal for residents who possess a North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP), which requires that an individual be 21 and have completed an approved firearms training course. With this permit, you are permitted to keep a firearm affixed to your person, or in a closed compartment within a locked vehicle.

Can You Carry a Gun in Your Car if it is Concealed?

North Carolina’s laws regarding guns in vehicles are highly nuanced. While the law doesn’t specifically dictate how a gun should be transported in a vehicle, it does place restrictions. If you do not have a concealed carry permit and want to keep a gun in your car, it must be displayed openly. In the state, you are generally permitted to keep a firearm in your car unless two conditions are met:

  1. The firearm is concealed, and
  2. The firearm is easily and readily accessible by an occupant of the vehicle.

Simply put, it is legal to keep a weapon in your vehicle as long as it isn’t concealed (unless you have a valid CHP permit). The gun must be visible and readily seen. If it is concealed, it must not be within the reach of anyone else. You cannot keep a gun under the front seat, in a bag on the passenger seat, or in a center console.

Can You Carry a Gun in Your Car if You Keep it in the Trunk?

Pursuant to the North Carolina gun laws, you can keep a firearm locked in the trunk of your car. Although the gun might be concealed in the trunk, it is not easily accessible, so it is not illegal. If your vehicle is a van or truck that does not have a trunk, the firearm should be kept in a locked container far from the reach of any vehicle occupants.

Are You Allowed to Keep a Gun in the Glove Compartment?

You can legally keep a firearm in the glove compartment of your vehicle if it is locked and cannot be opened by simply pulling on it. However, it’s usually not a good idea to store your firearm in the glove compartment if you also keep your vehicle insurance and registration inside. In the event you are pulled over by police and need to retrieve the documents, the police could potentially interpret this as a threat when you go to pull the papers out. The question of whether a concealed firearm was easily and readily accessible is typically left to the discretion of the individual officer.

What are the Penalties for Carrying a Concealed Weapon in Your Vehicle?

A person who carries a concealed weapon anywhere except on their own premises without a CHP in North Carolina commits a Class 2 misdemeanor. This offense can come with a jail sentence of up to 60 days and a monetary fine. For first time offenders without prior convictions, a sentence may still include supervised probation and a 30 day suspended sentence.

A second or subsequent offense can be charged as a Class H felony. The sentence for this offense can range between four and 39 months of possible imprisonment. The length of the sentence is based on whether the defendant has prior convictions.

Contact an Experienced North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney

Carrying a concealed gun in your car that is easily accessible is a serious offense that can result in jail time and a criminal record. If you’ve been charged with this offense, it’s crucial to have skilled representation to fight the charges against you. The Johnston County criminal defense attorneys at Reece & Reece, Attorneys at Law provide adept advocacy and experienced counsel for a wide range of gun crimes in North Carolina. Call (919) 300-1249 to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help.

Categories: Criminal Defense