A Heavy Load: Carrying a Long Gun in North Carolina

The following is a video transcript.

Today, I would like to discuss with you how you may legally carry a long gun in public. As you probably know, North Carolina is an open carry state. In regard to sidearms, that means you are legally allowed to carry a pistol in a side holster or shoulder holster as long as it is in an exposed condition.

What about long guns such as shotguns or rifles? Are they treated the same way under North Carolina law? The answer is yes. The law does not differentiate between sidearms and long guns. However, you should keep in mind that if you are carrying a long gun in public, particularly if you have it in your hands as opposed to in a sling over your shoulder, you may be perceived as a threat and you may have the police called on you.


Under North Carolina common law, there is an offense known as “Going Arm to the Terror of the People.” This is a Class one misdemeanor punishable by up to 120 days in jail. A person is guilty of this offense if he or she arms himself or herself with an unusual or dangerous weapon (and guns are considered unusual and dangerous weapons under the case law) for the purpose of terrifying others and goes about on public highways in a manner to cause terror to the public.

Remember, perception is everything. So, if you carry a long gun in public, take care not to do any act, or say anything that might result in a criminal charge against you. Should you have any questions about how to legally carry a long gun, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to an Independent Program Attorney.

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