Category Archives: Laws of NC that need to change

Laws of North Carolina that need to change, Part 4 – Random Checkpoints

Time to take a short break from guns.


Today’s hobbyhorse is North Carolina General Statute 20-16.3a, which gives police agencies the power to conduct random checkpoints. Now it may surprise you that in modern America, the local gendarmes can throw up a roadblock on any random road and start demanding “Papers, Please.” I think they use the please simply to confuse you. Make no mistake, it isn’t a request and refusal will land you in a heap of trouble.

I learned about the checkpoints the hard way. It was the weekend here just south of Raleigh and I was driving my truck, bicycle in the back, off to a local park for a morning bike ride. To be fair, the police officer didn’t actually sound like Sgt Schultz. He seemed confused that I would object to his eminently reasonable request that I provide to him a government issued permission slip that authorized me to use the public highways.

Typically, police are required to have Reasonably Articulable Suspicion or RAS in order to conduct a Terry Stop, which is a brief investigatory detention to determine if a crime is, was, or is about to be committed. In simple English, the cops need to have a reason to hassle you. They can’t just pull you over for the hell of it.

The Supreme Court decided in Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz that it was ok to pull people over at a DUI checkpoint if the criteria were neutral, say every third car. The issue is, that was for drunk checks, not license checks. In City of Indianapolis v. Edmond, the Supreme Court decided that checkpoints whose “whose primary purpose” is “to detect evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing”. Driving without a driver’s license is ordinary criminal wrongdoing, and is not the special case of drunk driving. In my case, I called the local police and asked the Lieutenant in charge of the Traffic division if it was Traffic Division that was conducting the stops. It was not. That tells me that they were looking for ordinary criminal wrongdoing. I doubt that they were looking for drunks at 9am on a Saturday.

Aside from the legalities and inferences of Constitutional Law (Penumbras and Emanations and all that) we should consider the propriety of it all. Why should we be subjected to a uniformed agent of the State demanding our papers in the middle of the road? We should demand that all police stops be based on individualized suspicion. If the cop doesn’t have a good reason to bother me, he should be required by law to leave me alone.

Laws of North Carolina that need to change, Part 3 – No guns in restaurants UPDATE: Restaurant Carry October 1, 2013!

Update: H937 will permit CHP holders to carry concealed in restaurants that serve alcohol starting OCT 1 2013.I told the story of my friend surviving this massacre to Luke Apps of Triangle Tactical Podcast. Listen HERE.

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North Carolina prohibits the possession of a firearm inside any establishment that has a license to serve alcohol for on premises consumption.  Wholly aside from the question of how a State gets the power to regulate behavior on private property, this is a supremely stupid law. Want to know how I know?
 
Luigi’s Restaurant

 

I didn’t learn about the Luigi’s shooting on TV like most people, I learned about it by telephone. I was a Paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne then. One of my three closest friends at the time, Jeff, told me.
“He’s gone,” he said
Who?
“Wes. He’s gone.”
His voice told me he was describing a bad dream that he couldn’t wake up from. You know those dreams, something terrible is about to attack you, but in the nick of time you realize that it is a dream, so you wake up only to find the dream has followed you. So you “wake up” again. And again. And again, but you never really actually wake up. That’s how his voice sounded. It wasn’t a dream.
 
Wes and I weren’t friends, but his girlfriend and Jeff were buddies. The three had gone to Luigi’s the night before to get dinner and were rudely interrupted by a wacko with a shotgun. Jeff said that his first clue that there was a problem was when his female friend’s throat exploded with blood. The same shotgun blast peppered the back of Jeff’s head. I think he still has the two pellets in his scalp. Thank God it was only birdshot.
 
The female friend ended up getting shot twice, once in the throat and once more in the hip. Jeff sat cross legged on the floor with her head on his knee, using his Army first aid training (he was a mechanic, not a medic) to keep her airway open. Airway, Breathing, Circulation, they drilled into us in those days. Lacking even a pocketknife with which to fight back, Jeff did the only thing he could do, keep his friend alive. Did I mention that she was pregnant with Wes’s child?
 
Two lives depended on Jeff, and all he could do was keep the airway clear and try to keep her from bleeding out until help arrived. It was a long time coming. Jeff said it took forever. It took too long for Wes.  During one of his crossings of the restaurant, the gunman passed them. Wes looked at him and asked him “Why?” the answer came from a 12 gauge shotgun. Wes was dead before he landed on Jeff’s other knee. Not that death prevented his blood and brains from running all over Jeff’s pants.
 
The story ends, like every other mass shooting ends, because of the bullet of an armed person. You see, “active shooters” as they are called today, stop killing either when they get shot by someone else, or, seeing themselves trapped by armed people, turn the gun on themselves. Jeff vividly recalled for me sitting on the floor with his back to the gunman, dead friend on one knee and pregnant friend on the other knee, seeing the cop charging in shooting over Jeff’s head. From start to finish the ordeal lasted 20 minutes.
 
When I asked Jeff last year what he would have done if he had a gun he said “I’d have drilled that bastard like a he was a two-by-four. “ Instead, disarmed by US Army policy, and by the North Carolina’s lack of Concealed Carry licenses, he spent the longest 20 minutes of his life clearing his friend’s airway and trying not to look at her boyfriend, dead on his other knee. The hospital helpfully sterilized his pants for him and offered to give them back, complete with bloodstains.
 
If you want to know what the State thinks of you, remember Jeff, or Wes. Either one had plenty of time to make the shot that would have cut the rampage short. The State told them, and every other person in the restaurant, that their lives were expendable. Today the law has changed. Sorta. NC issues “Concealed Handgun Permits” on a Shall Issue basis. But the same law that made licenses “shall issue” also made it illegal to carry in a restaurant that serves so much as a beer. Next time you sit down to eat at Applebees, think about that. You can order a beer (or a martini) so therefore you must be unarmed. Do you think that the next mass murderer knows that? If you were a mass murderer, where would you go to commit your atrocity? To the shooting range… or Olive Garden?
 
 Jeff will always be a hero to me. He kept his head, remembered his training and saved two lives, his own and his pregnant friend’s. He saved three if you count the baby. I do. He was put in an impossible position that day, unarmed and without allies deep in enemy territory. Somewhere between the front door and the salad bar he took a stand by sitting down. I’d guarantee that he’d trade everything he has achieved from that day to this to be put back there this moment with a pistol in his hand. And I’d  sell everything I own and give him the money if he found a working time machine on EBay. Wes’s child has no father. North Carolina is perfectly happy to let it all happen again.

Laws of North Carolina that need to change, Part 2 – Police Officer Notification

Here in the great state of North Carolina, if you are carrying concealed and a police officer  speaks to you, you are required to tell him (or her) that you have a license*, and are carrying. If the officer demands it, you have to show your license.

This unnecessarily complicates a police encounter. If a person has a license to carry, he or she is not really a threat to the cop. If a person is carrying illegally, he or she doesn’t have to tell the cop because if he was required by law to tell the cop, it would be a violation of his 5th Amendment right. It’s the same argument that means that if a felon fails to register a gun in a state that has registration, he can’t be prosecuted because that would violate his rights against self-incrimination.

Once again we have a law that only burdens the law abiding. There is no information given to the cop by telling him you are carrying that helps the interaction, and plenty that might prejudice it. Better not to complicate things further. A basic rule of thumb when dealing with police, never complicate the issue by volunteering more information than you are legally required to. In other words, Don’t Talk to Cops.




* NC law calls it a Concealed Handgun Permit. I refuse to call it a permit as a permit is a permission slip given to a person that grants the bearer the approval of the State to violate a law. It permits something that is normally illegal. A license, on the other hand, is a government permission slip that designates the bearer to be a person who has met certain conditions and is deemed competent to exercise his rights. Keeping and Bearing Arms is a right.

Laws of North Carolina that need to change, Part 1 – State of Emergency (UPDATE: 3-29-12 OVERTURNED!)

UPDATE: This law was overturned by a Federal judge. Read the whole decision here.

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There are several laws of the State of North Carolina that should be changed. Rather than try to write one post detailing every law change I can think of, I’ll start with one.


The first law that needs to go is the NC State of Emergency law. This law came to national public attention during last winter’s declaration of a State of Emergency by the City of King, NC. This law allows mayors, County Executives, Chief Executives of municipalities, and the Governor (definition item 3 at this link) to declare a State of Emergency which has wide powers. Any declared State of Emergency in North Carolina bans the possession of a dangerous weapon off your property. That means that you cannot open carry, and even your possession of a Concealed Handgun Permit does not exempt you from this restriction of your rights.

There is no reasonable justification for banning the possession of a firearm off you property simply because some city Mayor is afraid of a little snow. There is no rational justification for declaring a state of Emergency for the entire state of North Carolina because the Outer Banks are going to get a little storm surge from Earl. But in an effort to get FEMA assistance in the first real hurricane of the season, our Governor made it just as illegal to carry a gun off you property in Asheville as in Kitty Hawk. Then she compounded her error by lying about the effect of her proclamation. The provisions of the law are clear. In a declared State of Emergency, certain things are illegal. When the Governor says, in effect, “Don’t enforce these laws,” she hasn’t changed the law or “written (the Executive Order) in such a way that the rights of NC gun owners are not infringed upon.” What she has done is order the police to pretend that the law does not exist.

Luckily, the same guy who won both Heller and McDonald has filed suit against the State in order to overturn this law. Also, luckily, it looks like the State of North Carolina will see a serious change in the makeup of the legislature, including the possible turnover of the State Senate for the first time in 100 years. The question is, does the legislature want a Supreme Court decision that establishes for the first time a right to carry off your property (Heller and McDonald were possession in the home cases), or do they want to avoid the issue entirely by just changing the law?