NC: Demonstrating With Guns: G.S. 14-277.2

By Jonathan Holbrook. May 12, 2020

Over the past couple weeks, North Carolina has joined the growing list of states in which armed demonstrators have gathered to express their opposition to virus-related restrictions on economic activity and social gatherings, or to more generally express their opposition to any restrictions on their Second Amendment rights. Dressed in patriotic or military-style gear, and armed with a variety of openly displayed handguns, rifles, or even an (inert) AT4 anti-tank weapon, these groups have processed along city streets and sidewalks or gathered in public locations like a historic cemetery and a downtown restaurant.

Now, particularly in light of an incident over the weekend where two local attorneys walking with their children felt threatened during an encounter with a demonstrator wielding a large pipe wrench, a lot of people are asking the same question: are these armed demonstrations legal?

The question seems simple. The answer is more complicated.

A.   Background and Related Posts

We should start by distinguishing this issue from the much larger bodies of law related to protests and firearms in general. My colleagues have written a number of posts on those topics over the years that readers may want to revisit. .....

Despite being oriented towards North Carolina's laws, this is an interesting review of the approaches to being openly armed at a public gathering/demonstration. This will obviously vary state by state but much may well be fairly common across quite a few. Opinion regarding the actual exercising of rights vs. the wisdom of so doing may vary greatly but, one thing that will always tend to be a factor is the potential risk of paranoid responses from anti gun members of the public resulting in possible bad press.


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