D. Transporting Weapons
Given this general prohibition of carrying concealed weapons, individuals must be ever
vigilant to ensure their particular situation cannot be construed as concealing a weapon,
either on or about them, without being properly authorized to do so with a valid North
Carolina, or recognized out-of-state concealed handgun permit. Therefore, the permittee's
accessibility to the weapon is of prime importance. It is for these reasons, that when
transporting a weapon in a vehicle, even greater care must be exercised to ensure that the
weapon is not concealed, and within the ready access to an occupant of the vehicle. North
Carolina law does not specifically address how to transport a weapon in an automobile.
Therefore, the central question becomes: when is the weapon concealed and readily
accessible to an occupant of an automobile? Obviously, a weapon would be concealed and
readily accessible, and therefore in violation of North Carolina law, if it were placed in such
areas of a vehicle as under the seat of the automobile; in a bag in the back seat; or in some
other manner is covered or hidden within the easy reach of an occupant of the vehicle. It
is our recommendation that firearms should not be carried in a glove compartment
regardless of whether the compartment is locked or not.
While a weapon carried openly in an automobile would not be concealed, there are
other problems specific to this method of carrying a weapon. The principal drawback, of
course, is in the event of an individual being stopped by a law enforcement official, the
officer may not readily know that individual's purpose and intent for carrying a weapon.
As such, it is imperative that an individual immediately notify an officer of the presence of
any weapon in the automobile, for the officer's and the vehicle's occupants' safety. Another
obvious drawback is that a valuable weapon may be in plain view for potential thieves to see.
The prohibition to carrying concealed weapons applies not only to handguns and other
weapons commonly thought of as being easily hidden, but also to "long guns" as well.
Therefore, shotguns and rifles concealed behind the seat of pickup trucks, and elsewhere
in other vehicles, could similarly violate North Carolina law.
As to those vehicles with no easily discernible trunk area (i.e., vans, etc.), the question
arises on a factual determination of when the weapon is within ready and easy access to an
occupant of the vehicle. If the weapon is concealed near, in close proximity to, or within
the convenient control and access of an occupant, which would allow him/her to use the
weapon quickly, then a fair probability exists that the occupant is in violation of the law.
Therefore, care must be exercised by any occupant of any vehicle to ensure that weapons are
securely locked away in as remote an area as possible, in relation to the passenger
compartment of the vehicle. It is important to emphasize that these prohibitions apply to
passengers, as well as drivers of any vehicle.