What exactly are the laws for minors owning guns in North Carolina?

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Brooke Cain, The News & Observer (Raleigh)

When it comes to the purchase of firearms by minors in North Carolina, the rules are clear: no one under 21 can buy handguns and no one under 18 can buy handguns. long guns, such as shotguns or rifles.

The state actually adheres to federal standards when it comes to these age restrictions.

But the rules are different in North Carolina when it comes to the possession of firearms. And it can get a little confusing.

  • North Carolina law makes it a misdemeanor for anyone under the age of 18 to own a gun.
  • But there is no similar NC law dealing specifically with the possession of “long guns” — rifles, shotguns and shotguns (except for a law that allows children under 12 to handle firearms with permission or under the supervision of adults).

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So what exactly are the rules for minors owning or using firearms? A little ago.

Less than 12 years. A child under 12 must have permission from their parent or guardian to possess or use a firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, or under adult supervision, says NC 14-316. . Violation is a misdemeanor.

Keep firearms away from minors. According to North Carolina Law 14-315.1, people who own firearms and live with minors have a responsibility to store firearms in a way that unsupervised minors cannot access them.

The penalty for not doing so is a class 1 misdemeanor – but only in certain circumstances: if this firearm is obtained without authorization and the minor displays the weapon in a public place or in a threatening manner, transports it to “educational property”, causes injury or death (not in self-defense), or uses it to commit a crime.

The law is long, but specifies that the adult may be liable if the firearm is stored “in such a condition that it can be unloaded and in such a way that the person knew or ought to have known that a unsupervised minor could have access to the firearm.

No weapons on school grounds. It’s a class 1 felony for anyone of any age possess or carry (openly or concealed) any type of firearm on “educational property” or at a school-sponsored extracurricular activity. If this gun is unloaded, it is a Class F felony. (Note: Does not apply to BB guns, stun guns, air rifles, or air pistols.).

It is also a class 1 felony of encourage or assist a minor (under 18) carry a firearm on educational property.

▪ No license required for “long guns”. You don’t need any type of license to own a “long gun,” which includes a rifle or shotgun, but you do need North Carolina ID and the buyer must pass a background check. (You need a permit to purchase a handgun.)

Why is it a crime to store a gun improperly, but not illegal for a minor to own a gun?

In North Carolina, it is not illegal for a minor to own a long gun, such as a shotgun or rifle. And yet, it can be a crime for a minor to gain access to a firearm if a parent or guardian has not properly secured it.

It all depends on what the miner does with the weapon they are accessing.

According to state law (GS 14-315.1), here are all the elements that must be present for improper storage of a firearm to be a crime:

“A person guilty of this offence:

(1) resides on the same premises as a minor, and

(4) puts away or leaves the firearm

(5)(a) in such a condition that the firearm can be unloaded and

(b) in such a way that the person knew or ought to have known that an unsupervised minor might have access to it, and

(a) has access to the firearm without the legal authorization of his parents or the person who has charge of the minor, and

(b)(i) unlawfully possesses the firearm on school property in violation of GS 14-269.2(b),

(ii) displays the firearm in a public place in a careless, angry or threatening manner,

(iii) causes bodily injury or death with the firearm without self-defence, or

(iv) uses it in the commission of a crime.

If all of these elements are met, the owner of the gun, who lives in the house with the minor and who has stored the gun in the manner described, can be found guilty of this criminal offense. It’s a class 1 misdemeanor.”

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