6. Going Armed To The Terror Of The People
By common law in North Carolina, it is unlawful for a person to arm himself/herself with any unusual and dangerous weapon, for the purpose of terrifying others, and go about on public highways in a manner to cause terror to others. The
N.C. Supreme Court states that any gun is an unusual and dangerous weapon for purposes of this offense.
Therefore, persons are cautioned as to the areas they frequent with firearms.
What you fail to comprehend is that there are some VERY subtle and SPECIFICALLY PARTICULAR wording being used in the GAttTotP law. Those commas are breaks in the descriptive requirements of the violation, and you MUST meet all three descriptive criteria to be in violation. To make it more clear, I'll reformat the wording:
By common law in North Carolina,
- it is unlawful for a person to arm himself/herself with any unusual and dangerous weapon,
- for the purpose of terrifying others,
- and go about on public highways in a manner to cause terror to others.
So this is a "3 pronged" violation. You must be armed, AND it must be your specific intent to use your weapon to terrify people, AND you must be on a public highway (which under NC law is defined as ANY roadway, sidewalk, or thoroughfare that is maintained by ANY governmental body)
If you do not meet ALL THREE of these criteria, you are NOT committing the violation of GAttTotP.
You must also pay particularly close attention to the second criteria. This violation is what they call in the legal world, a "crime of intent". It is not based on any action that is on it's face illegal, but rather it is a violation based on the INTENT of the person being charged.
So, if I am legally and lawfully carrying a firearm in a holster, and not being rude or threatening, or have not expressed the desire, intent, or purpose of using that firearm to threaten or intimidate people, then I am NOT committing the violation of GAttTotP.
It doesn't matter how hysterical the soccer mom making a MWAG 911 call is because she saw me walking inside a Lowes or Starbucks or WalMart wearing my 1911 in a holster. It doesn't matter how indignant or "offended" some yuppie sheeple may be when they walk up to an LEO to report that I have a gun out in plain view.
This charge is NOT based on the perceptions, feelings, tender sensibilities, or political agendas of OTHER people. It can ONLY be applied if the person carrying the firearm (or other weapon) has the SPECIFIC INTENT of creating terror, mayhem, or intimidation in others.
If you are carrying for "self defense", you are OK. If it's late at night, and you feel you need to have the ability to protect yourself (and are legally allowed to carry and possess a firearm) then you are OK. If you are in a business and it's not "posted", and there have been no managers approach you to tell you that they don't allow carry, then you are OK.
GAttTotP is one of those obscure laws that LEOs like to throw out at OCers because it sounds terrible and frightening, and because most people don't know the intent, meaning and history of this law, and even fewer know the subsequent case law establishing and defining it's bounds.
If an LEO ever tries to use a GAttTotP charge to intimidate you, your only response should be "Am I Being Detained".
If they answer "no", then the ONLY other thing you should say is "am I free to go".
If they say "yes", then you should KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT and just walk away.
Don't try to argue the law with cops. Most of them only know enough to sound convincing and threatening. If they wanted to REALLY know the law, they would have gone to law school not the Academy...
If they write you a citation for GAttTotP, accept it, smile, and walk away. Because it WILL be thrown out by almost EVERY judge in this state, and you will have the personal satisfaction of seeing the look on his face when the judge dismisses his improper charge.
And if you have PARTICULARLY deep pockets, you may well have a Federal Civil Rights violation case under "color of law" on your hands, and those are brought against the INDIVIDUAL officer, and he DOES NOT have immunity, and his department or the city CAN NOT pay the settlement...