I have previously reviewed the right to keep and bear arms under the North Carolina State Constitution, its amendment to permit the legislature to regulate concealed carry, the legislature’s subsequent 1879 ban on concealed carry, and two legal challenges to the ban in the early 1880s.
From its 1879 passage to the 1919 Consolidation of the Statutes of North Carolina, there were only two minor substantive modifications to the ban on carrying concealed weapons.
In 1883, the General Assembly of North Carolina modified Chapter 127, Sec. 1 to add “razor” to the list of banned weapons. The Code of North Carolina enacted in 1883 placed the ban in Chapter 25 (Crimes and Punishments), Sec. 1005.
Sec. 1005. Concealed weapons, the carrying of unlawfully, a misdemeanor. 1879, c. 127, 1883, c. 81
If any one, except when on his own premises, shall carry concealed about his person any pistol, bowie knife, dirk, dagger, slungshot, loaded cane, brass, iron or metallic knuckles or razor or other deadly weapon of like kind, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and fined or imprisoned at the discretion of the court. And if any one, not being on his own lands, shall have about his person any such deadly weapon, such possession shall be prima facie evidence of concealment thereof. This section shall not apply to the following persons: officers and soldiers of the United States army, civil officers of the United States while in the discharge of their official duties, officers and soldiers of the militia and the state guard when called into actual service, officers of the state, or of any county, city or town, charged with the execution of the laws of the state, when acting in the discharge of their official duties.
The ban appears right after “Concealing birth of child” and before “Cotton, sale of, within certain hours prohibited.”
The 1905 Revisal of the Code of North Carolina renumbered the statute to Chapter 81, Subchapter XXXI (Public Peace), Sec. 3708. The language and numbering remained the same in the 1908 Revisal, although references to a number of court cases clarifying the legal interpretation of the law were added.
These included references to the Speller and Roten decisions previously discussed, as well as cases determining that a “butcher’s knife” fell under the law (State v. Erwin) and that “fine or imprisonment” does not mean both (State v. Taylor). Courts also clarified that the offense refers to the intent to carry the weapon concealed not the intent to use the weapon (many cases), and that the offense is not excused when the weapon is being carried for hunting (State v. Woodfin). Significantly, a “servant” can be indicted under the law for carrying a concealed weapon “on his master’s premises” (State v. Deyton).
The 1919 Consolidated Statutes of North Carolina incorporated two additional minor modifications to the 1879 ban, one passed in 1917 and one in 1919.
The 1917 legislation amending Sec. 3708 struck “pistol” from the third line of the statute and added the following language: “If anyone except one on his own premises, shall carry concealed about his person any pistol or gun, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not less than fifty dollars nor more than two hundred dollars, or imprisoned not less than thirty days nor more than two years, at the discretion of the court.”
So, for concealed weapons other than guns, the fine or punishment was at the court’s discretion, but for gun violations the amount of the fine or the length of the prison sentence was specified. This suggests that the problems with violations of the concealed carry ban had more to do with guns than knifes or other concealable weapons.
The 1919 legislation made only a small modification to the law governing concealed carry, but it was a hugely influential bill more generally as it established – under the heading “An Act to Regulate the Sale of Concealed Weapons in North Carolina” – North Carolina’s pistol purchase permit system, which is still on the books despite efforts by gun rights advocates to have it overturned.
Section 8 of the 1919 act read: “That upon submission or conviction of any person in this State for unlawfully carrying concealed weapons off of his own premises, the pistol or other deadly weapon with reference to which the defendant shall have been convicted shall be condemned and ordered confiscated and destroyed by the judge presiding at any such trial.”
This language was incorporated into the now 40 year old concealed carry ban, which was renumbered to Chapter 82, Subchapter 10 (Offenses Against the Public Peace), Article 32, Sec. 4410 as shown in the following picture: