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Is it a crime to bring a gun to a restaurant?

On Behalf of | Nov 30, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

North Carolina allows gun owners to carry a concealed handgun for as long as they have a valid permit. Having a concealed firearm can help keep the owner safe, especially if they’re traveling to an unfamiliar area rife with crime.

But gun owners don’t always go to unsafe destinations. Sometimes, they’ll take their weapons on a regular trip around town, like lunch at a restaurant. The question is, is it legal to bring a firearm to a restaurant?

Establishments that serve alcohol are out of the question

Per state law, it’s unlawful for anyone to carry a firearm – whether it’s a rifle, pistol or shotgun – into any assembly or establishment where alcoholic drinks are sold and consumed. While this law points to bars, taverns and clubs that serve liquor, restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages are also included in the list of establishments where persons can’t bring firearms.

This offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor. A person convicted of this offense faces up to 120 days of jail time and a court-determined fine.

Exceptions to the law – with a caveat

However, the law also makes an exception for certain types of people permitted to bring their guns inside an establishment serving alcohol. These people include:

  • The owner of the business establishment
  • Officers and enlisted personnel in the military
  • Civil and law enforcement officers
  • Persons participating in an event, with the permission of the business owner or event sponsor
  • Security guards
  • Persons with a valid concealed handgun permit

But while concealed handgun permit owners are allowed to bring their handguns to an establishment serving alcohol, the law also states that this exception won’t allow them to carry a handgun into a building where the owner explicitly posted a notice prohibiting carrying concealed weapons.

In summary, you can’t bring a firearm inside any restaurant serving alcoholic drinks unless you have a concealed handgun permit. Even then, an establishment that has a notice banning concealed weapons prohibits even permit holders.

A violation of this law may be a misdemeanor, but misdemeanors are still offenses that appear on a person’s criminal record. If you face this charge, don’t underestimate what a conviction leads to. Consider speaking with a legal professional to understand how this affects your right to bear arms.