NORTH CAROLINA -- One of several new North Carolina laws in effect as of Tuesday expands the number of places where concealed handgun permit holders can carry their guns. One of those places is in locked cars on school property.
Read: New NC Laws Going Into Effect Oct. 1
The new law allows a person with a concealed carry permit to keep a legal handgun in his or her car on school property, as long as the handgun is hidden and the car is locked.
Within that provision are very specific rules and exceptions that the Rockingham County Sheriff's department is reiterating. Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page said because it is now hunting season, people might unknowingly violate the new gun law provision and thereby be subject to a felony charge. He said parents might make the mistake of having a hunting rifle concealed in their cars when they drop off or pick up their kids from school.
There are specific stipulations of having a firearm on educational property. First, guns are still prohibited inside school buildings. No one--including concealed carry permit holders--can carry a firearm on campus or at a school-sponsored event, with the exception of law enforcement and authorized personnel.
Under the new provision in effect Tuesday, a person with a concealed carry handgun permit can keep a handgun in a closed compartment inside of a locked car on school property. That person can unlock his or her car to get in or out of it, but the handgun must remain in a closed compartment or locked container securely inside the car. The car must be locked immediately after the person gets into it or out of it.
The new provision applies to handguns, only, even if someone has a valid concealed carry permit. Rifles, shotguns or other long guns cannot be brought onto educational property or taken to school events. Those firearms cannot be kept in cars on school property.
Private schools are exempt from this provision and can opt to disallow concealed guns in locked cars on school property.
Other provisions of the North Carolina gun law effect Tuesday allow concealed carry permit holders to carry handguns in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, so long as the venue owner does not expressly forbid it. It also allows concealed carry permit holders to carry guns on greenways, playgrounds and other public recreation areas.
Also under the law, hunters now can install noise suppressors on their rifles and shotguns.
Sheriff Page said since people might soon be noticing more people conceal and carry firearms, as a direct result of the new gun law, local law enforcement is trying to raise public awareness about all of the law's provisions. He said most people carrying concealed firearms have a legal permit to do so. But, he encouraged anyone who sees someone acting in a suspicious or threatening way with a concealed firearm to call local law enforcement and report the incident.
WFMY News 2