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Charlotte Area News

Protest, Parade Or Rally? Definition Of Far Right Event Determines If Participants Can Be Armed

Anticom's banner photo on their Twitter account
via Twitter

When a group calling itself Anticom announced it would be holding a rally and possible torch-light march in Charlotte in late December, reaction was swift.

And it's easy to see why.

Even though the name of the group is different, it would feature the same keynote speaker as the 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville. That rally turned violent quickly. One counterprotester was killed.

Some Unite the Right supporters in Charlottesville were heavily armed. They wore body armor and openly carried rifles and assault-style guns. Could that, too, be the scene in Marshall Park?

Anticom's official website currently reads under construction. But its Twitter feed is still online and sports a banner image showing four men, all their faces covered with the group's logo. But the group's love of guns is in plain sight. An assault-style long gun and a shotgun are front and center.

Early reports said Anticom was calling for its supporters to bring their guns to Charlotte. That post now can't be found but their twitter feed includes what they call a clarification:

Credit via Twitter

Here’s what’s codified in North Carolina law.

It is unlawful for any person participating in, affiliated with, or present as a spectator at any parade, or demonstration to carry a long gun in North Carolina. This would include shotguns, rifles, AR-15s or other military style rifles. The law actually goes further. It bars anything that could become a "dangerous weapon" from protests. So baseball bats, crowbars, those kinds of things could be banned as well.

But there are some exceptions.

The first one is somewhat small. Any rifle or gun carried on a rack in a pickup truck during a parade or funeral procession is exempt.

The second exception, however, is more pertinent to this possible rally. It has to do with handguns.

Specifically concealed handguns at a parade.

In 2013 the General Assembly changed the law to allow someone with a concealed carry permit to have concealed handguns at parades.  And North Carolina currently accepts conceal carry permits from 36 other states – so their permitted residents would be allowed to carry a concealed handgun in North Carolina.

But there's an interesting clause here, too. It is still illegal to have guns of any kind at protests. So if the Anticom rally does in fact take place what may decide if the participants can legally carry a gun is how the city and police define the event itself.

Would it be a rally or protest? Or would the city define it as a parade in which case officials would have to decide whether or not to issue Anticom a permit. The group now says they will be applying for a permit soon.