Can You Wear A Mask And Carry A Gun? Even In COVID-19
Can you wear a mask and carry a gun? Traditionally, the answer was no, because concealing your face was associated with criminal activity.
But there is no federal law banning carrying a permitted concealed weapon while wearing a face mask. Instead, the rules regarding gun ownership and mask-wearing are governed by the rules set by each of the 50 states.
Compounding matters, circumstances have changed dramatically during the COVID pandemic. This has dramatically altered the rules regarding wearing face masks while carrying a gun.
Can You Wear a Mask and Carry a Gun In All States Of United States?
There are a few states that permit open carry. This list includes Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, West Virginia, and Iowa. What is open carry? The term open carry refers to wearing a gun where it can be seen.
In many jurisdictions, those with permission to open carry had to wear a mask when the mask was updated. That is assuming you have a license to do so in states like Texas or Florida that require a permit to open carry a gun.
In states that don’t require you to have a permit to open carry, then you can simply decide to carry the gun and a mask.
Important Note Regarding the Rules
Note that the rules regarding long guns are often different from those regarding pistols and hand guns. In some states, you can legally carry a handgun but not a long gun. Wearing a face mask doesn’t make it legal to open carry a long gun if it isn’t otherwise allowed.
But if you have the necessary permit, wearing a COVID mask doesn’t cause you to meet the threshold for “manner calculated to cause alarm” that makes it a crime.
Make sure that, Can they identify you?
A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: can they identify me? If you’re wearing a minimal mask over your lower face, they can see the upper half of your face. This is generally not a problem, especially if it is legally mandatory.
However, wearing a ski mask is clearly intended to hide your identity (unless you’re skiing). And anyone openly carrying a gun in that situation may be interpreted as a threat. Thus they could call law enforcement assuming that you’re intended to rob them.
Open carry while wearing a mask is questionable unless your state explicitly permits it and others won’t see it as a threat.
Conceal Carry of Guns While Wearing a Mask
Traditionally, you’re not allowed to wear a mask while carrying a gun, whether it was open carry or concealed carry. However, many areas now say you can wear a COVID mask while you conceal carry the pistol.
Furthermore, there is far less conflict between anti-mask laws and conceal carry. After all, other people can’t see the gun and potentially confront you over it.
Note that states like Texas require you to have a permit whether you open carry or conceal carry a gun off of your own property.
In these cases, it is illegal to carry the gun wearing a mask without the permit. But you wouldn’t be allowed to carry it without a mask, either, if you don’t have a permit.
It is generally easier to conceal carry a gun while wearing a mask than open carrying it while wearing a mask.
How COVID Altered the Rules?
Historically, it was illegal to wear a mask and obscure your face and carry a gun. However, the government-mandated shutdowns in response to the coronavirus brought with them mandates to wear face masks.
Now you could be fined or even arrested if you didn’t wear a face mask that covered the bottom half of your face.
Courts found that the government couldn’t deny people their Second Amendment rights, such as refusing to let them legally carry a gun if the state wasn’t processing gun applications or renewing them.
You Can Carry a Gun with a COVID Mask
These same rules led to most jurisdictions saying yes, you can carry a gun while wearing a COVID mask when the mask is mandatory. On the flipside, no one has said that gun owners must wear a clear facemask or plastic face guard in order to show their face while carrying.
On the other hand, people with a health condition that prevents them from wearing a face covering doesn’t have to wear a face mask. These individuals are allowed to carry a gun, as long as there isn’t a medical reason prohibiting them from doing so.
Thus they’d be allowed to carry a gun and skip the mask, unless the property owner has prohibited guns.
Some States are Difference
Some states say you cannot carry a gun and wear a mask if it conceals your identity. Connecticut, Georgia, and Louisiana fall into this category. But if you’re wearing a clear faceguard, whether it is a clear plastic guard hanging down from your forehead or a clear plastic square in a cloth mask, then you can wear a facemask.
On the flipside, if you commit a crime with the gun while wearing a facemask, you will face the full force of the law.
Wearing a COVID face mask doesn’t exempt you from the additional penalties you face for concealing your identity while committing a crime.
Using Mask to Intimidate is a Crime
Wearing a mask to intimidate others is a crime in many states in and of itself. These laws date back to when the KKK was an actual threat. You can be arrested for wearing a Klan hood in many areas, whether or not you’re carrying a gun.
Wear a Klan hood and carry a pistol, and you could be arrested in a number of jurisdictions. Brandish the gun, regardless of what you’re wearing, and you’re generally in violation of the law.
Mask mandates have resulted in it being legal to wear a modest face mask while carrying a gun when it would have been illegal to do so in 2019. However, if others are intimidated, you may not be able to carry the gun.
Places Where Mask Laws Are So Strict You Likely Cannot Carry a Gun While Masked
Some states like Rhode Island, Alabama, Maine, Maryland, and Colorado explicitly made it legal to carry a gun with a mask on. However, Illinois state laws regarding face masks is so strict that it is likely illegal to wear a face mask while carrying a gun, even when masks are mandated.
The same is true of Washington DC. If you’re one of the few average citizens able to legally carry a gun, you’re not allowed to do so while masked.
There are exceptions in the law for certain groups. For example, licensed security guards and police officers can carry a gun while wearing a mask.
Some jurisdictions have anti-mask rules so strict that it is almost impossible to wear a face mask and carry a gun. If the exception to the rules allows you to wear a mask while carrying the gun, you can wear a gun and the mask.
Rules That Haven’t Changed Due to COVID
COVID restrictions did not alter the rules regarding where you’re allowed to carry a gun. It is generally a felony to carry a gun, mask or no mask, into:
- A polling place during elections
It is a felony to take a gun into these places whether or not you’re wearing a mask, even if you’re licensed to carry the gun. Secondary schools like colleges are exempt from this requirement, unless it is a private university.
Private University vs Public College
A private university can prohibit handguns if they want, but a public college cannot. They just have to make it clear that a gun isn’t allowed on the premises before they can order you to leave with the gun. If you refuse to leave, then they can have you arrested for trespassing.
It is also a crime to carry a gun into a variety of places that prohibit guns via prominent signs. Guns are often banned from hospitals, bars and sporting events. If the venue bans guns, you can’t bring it in, even if it is licensed.
And if they require you to wear a mask to enter, you’re legally required to wear the mask to enter. Violate either rule, and they can remove you. On the other hand, if they mandate masks and don’t explicitly prohibit guns, you can take the gun in while wearing a mask.
One Interesting Thing is Here
One interesting loophole is regarding condos, apartments and residential units. The property owner can ban handguns.
However, someone with a handgun license can legally carry the gun on the property on their way home to said apartment or while visiting as a guest of a resident. And if the property requires you to wear a mask, then you legally can wear the mask and carry the gun.
Social distancing mandates have resulted in people being forced to stay six to ten feet apart in many different situations.
Yet these rules are meaningless if you’re alone in a small cubicle. And it is hard to be more socially distant than when you’re standing in a firing lane at the gun range.
When Can You Carry a Gun and Skip the Mask?
In general, if you’re at the gun range, you can carry a gun and skip the mask once you’re in the firing lane. But the gun range could require you to wear a mask while carrying the gun to the range, in the name of public health.
If the property prohibits guns, you don’t get to take it there, mask mandate or no mask mandate.
Historically, you couldn’t wear a face mask and carry a gun. However, the mandates to wear a face mask to control the coronavirus from China have resulted in clarifications and exceptions to this rule.
Now you often can wear a face mask and carry a gun, if you can legally carry the gun in that situation.