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Fact check: Concealed carry in North Carolina not compromised by wearing a mask for COVID-19

Users on social media are sharing a misleading post that alleges people who carry a concealed firearm in public in North Carolina can be charged with a felony if they do so while wearing a mask, even if they have a permit to carry the gun. This is false.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

The claim refers to a NC General Statue that prohibits the use of face coverings and hoodies in public settings. However, in May 2020 the NC Senate passed a COVID-19 response bill (SB704) that made a temporary exception allowing people to wear a face covering to protect themselves from the disease.

Different iterations are visible here , here , here .

The posts, in part, reads: “Attention all my concealed carry folks! […] For those of you like myself that has your concealed carry permit and carry, you can be charged with a class H felony for wearing a mask and concealed carrying. Once you have a felony you can no longer carry.”

A spokesperson for NC State Senator Philip E. Berger, President Pro Tempore of the NC Senate, told Reuters via email that the law that prohibits wearing a mask in public, which applies irrespective of whether a person is carrying a weapon or not, was suspended earlier this year in light of the pandemic.

“There is no law that specifically prohibits wearing a mask while carrying pursuant to a concealed handgun permit,” the spokesperson added.

The claim mentions “NC Gen. Statute 14-12”, most likely referring to Sections 14-12.7 through 14-12.10 of North Carolina General Statutes, which prohibit the wearing of a “mask, hood or device whereby the person, face or voice is disguised so as to conceal the identity of the wearer. These sections don’t mention concealed carrying – so they apply whether someone is carrying a weapon or not ( bit.ly/2VoeWvv )

However, according to Section 4.3 (a) of the North Carolina Senate Bill 704 in response to COVID-19 (page 35 bit.ly/382pUf2 ), “any person wearing a mask for the purpose of ensuring the physical health or safety of the wearer or others” is exempted from the mask prohibition law until August 1, 2020 (pending extension).

The bill also states that people wearing a mask for health reasons must remove it on the request of a law enforcement officer, for example at traffic stops and where there is “reasonable suspicion or probable cause during a criminal investigation.”

Local media and Sheriffs’ offices of North Carolina have also clarified the misleading claim ( here , here , here ).

VERDICT

False. People who have permits to carry a concealed weapon in North Carolina can’t be prosecuted for wearing a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic. Statutes that prohibit wearing masks in public have been suspended until August 1.

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