Pointing a gun at someone – is it a crime?

Any responsible gun owner knows that the first rule of firearm safety is to keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, where an accidental discharge won’t hurt anybody. Gun owners should never point at anything they don’t intend to shoot, even if their firearm is unloaded.

Yet some gun owners recklessly aim at other people. It could be for a joke, or to threaten the other person. Either way, pointing a gun at a person is an assault offense in North Carolina and can lead to penalties.

Assaulting by pointing a firearm

Under state law, if a person points their firearm at any person – either as a joke or otherwise, and whether the gun is loaded or not – they can face a criminal charge of assault by pointing a firearm. The offense is a Class A1 misdemeanor.

The reckless gun owner can also face an additional charge of communicating a threat if they willfully threaten to injure another person by pointing a firearm at them. This offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The penalties for pointing with a firearm

If a court convicts a person of pointing their firearm at another, they face up to 150 days in jail and a court-determined fine. However, if they’re also facing a conviction for communicating a threat, their punishments will include up to 120 days in jail and another court-determined fine.

Not only is pointing a firearm at another person without good reason a crime, but it can potentially lead to multiple related offenses and months of jail time. A person can also face charges even if their gun didn’t have any bullets loaded. Although only a misdemeanor, anyone charged should carefully consider their defense in court.

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