The following is a video transcript.
What do you do when you inadvertently carry into a place you’re not supposed to and need to use your gun in self-defense?
Let’s suppose you walk into a business that has a sign forbidding firearms on the premises and you forget that you are carrying concealed with a valid permit. In North Carolina, carrying concealed in a business that bans firearms is not a criminal offense, but it’s merely an infraction, like a ticket. What if while you were in the business, a situation occurs where it is necessary to use your firearm to defend yourself? You are still allowed to use deadly force in North Carolina anytime you have a reasonable belief that you are facing death or serious bodily harm.
In other words, your necessity under that situation trumps the idea that your firearm is banned in that particular business. Therefore, even though you are carrying a firearm against the business owners wishes, you do not lose the right of self-defense and may still use your firearm to protect yourself. Even if you are carrying concealed without a permit, you would still have a right to defend yourself if you’re attacked with deadly force. This does not mean that you might not face charges for the illegal firearm possession, but you will not face charges for legally defending yourself.
STAND YOUR GROUND
Now, even if you have a right to self-defense, what about the right to stand your ground? This is a more complicated question. In North Carolina, you may stand your ground and use deadly force if you reasonably believe you are facing death or serious bodily harm and you are in a place you have a legal right to be.
This is a question that has not been resolved in North Carolina courts, and it is uncertain how they will resolve it. It could be argued that by coming on to a business property carrying a firearm against their wishes, you are not in a place you have a legal right to be. However, this only means that you must retreat, if you can do so safely. If you cannot retreat and you still have a reasonable belief you are facing death or serious bodily harm, you may defend yourself with your firearm.
Now, what if you are carrying in a place like a school property, where possession of firearms is a criminal offense? Even though your possession is illegal, you still retain the right to defend yourself if you have any reasonable belief you are facing death or serious bodily harm. The same rules apply in this situation as to whether you must retreat or not. Remember of course, that you may still face charges for illegally possessing a firearm, but you will have a right to defend yourself. However, you do not have the right to use force against a law enforcement officer who is in the course of his or her lawful duties and further, you would not have the right to use force against a school official or a business owner who seeks to evict you from the premises for possessing a firearm.
For more information about where you can legally carry your firearm and what to do when inadvertently carrying into a gun free zone, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to an Independent Program Attorney.