It seemed strange to be reading about the state’s law about BB guns so close to the second anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings. But here we are anyway. The North Carolina General Assembly’s revised BB gun law went into effect on Dec. 1.
Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter, stole the semi-automatic rifle he used from his mother, who owned it legally. Possessing a BB gun in Newtown is a class E felony — unless it is used on the owner’s property or at another site with the permission of that property’s owner. Connecticut also allows BB guns to be used in competition, as long as the Boy Scouts of America or the Girl Scouts of America is the sponsor.
North Carolina’s laws are less concerned with possessing BB guns than they are with who is using them and where they are used. State law bars anyone from carrying a BB gun onto school property. State law also bars adults from allowing a young child — that is, a child not yet 12 years old — to access, possess or use a dangerous weapon, including a BB gun.
The exception here has nothing to do with Boy Scouts. Rather, the restriction only applies if the child is not supervised by an adult and does not have his parents’ permission to use the gun. A violation is a Class 2 misdemeanor and, as such, may result in jail time.
The state has complicated the law by lifting the ban in a handful of counties. Neither parental permission nor adult supervision is necessary in Caldwell , Caswell, Chowan, Cumberland, Durham, Forsyth, Gaston, Haywood, Mecklenburg, Stokes, Union and Vance counties.
If the list looks shorter than it was before Dec. 1, it is because the General Assembly has removed five counties from the exemption: Anson, Cleveland, Harnett, Stanly and Surry. The decision to revoke the special status of those particular counties may have been strategic, or it may just have been where the darts landed. The legislative record offers no insight.
Wake County residents must follow the law, but Durham residents need not. The counties around Charlotte remain exempt. Forsyth County, where Winston-Salem is located, remains exempt.
It’s puzzling, and it’s confusing. If you live in Union County, and your child takes one step too far north into Stanly County, you could be in trouble.
We’ll continue our round-up of new laws in our next post.
News & Record, “New North Carolina laws take effect Monday,” Nov. 30, 2014
Ammoland, “NC Legislature Reforms Air Gun Law For Five Counties,” Dean Weingarten, Dec. 7, 2014