Guns & Masks
With more and more locales making masks mandatory indoors (and some even outdoors, which seems silly), it begs the question: Is it legal to wear a mask if you’re carrying a gun?
Remember the old western movies where we knew who the bad guys were when they rode into town because they wore bandanas over their faces to conceal their identities during a train holdup or bank robbery? Still today, bank robbers and other crooks disguise their faces with masks. We might not know who they are, but we at least know they’re bad guys. But now, thanks to COVID-19, we’re all wearing masks – or at least many states and counties are trying to get us to.
Regardless of where you fall on the “mask vs. no mask” spectrum, one issue that has gotten a lot of attention is the legality of wearing a mask while carrying a gun. Most of us carry guns all the time, usually concealed, to protect ourselves and our families. We do it legally: took the class, got the permit, etc. And we don’t want to jeopardize losing our ability to carry, so we try to be very careful about obeying the law. But mandatory mask wearing has thrown us a curve ball.
Early in the mask mandates, memes and other social media posts popped up everywhere claiming that wearing a mask while carrying a gun was illegal, often citing a state statute or local law to back up the claim. This was usually used to justify not wearing a mask by those opposed to the mandates. And it made sense. That is, until you examined the law a little closer.
While it is true that wearing a mask while carrying a gun is illegal in many states, it is only illegal while committing a crime. Take, for example, Michigan, where the law reads: “A person who intentionally conceals his or her identity by wearing a mask or other device covering his or her face for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a crime is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.” Most other states have similar laws.
One caveat of the mask mandates that varies from state to state is its authority to be enforced. For example, where I live it is a health code violation to not wear a mask, not an illegal act. The police cannot arrest or ticket someone for not wearing a mask. The establishment you visit – grocery store, hardware retailer, etc. – can report the violation to the local health department, but there is no actual crime being committed because these mandates were not officially passed by a county council or state legislature. The only potential illegal act is if you don’t wear a mask and then refuse to leave if management asks you to. Then they can tag you for trespassing. But the act of not wearing a mask itself is not technically illegal unless you commit a crime while wearing it.
Whether you agree or disagree with the mask mandates on philosophical or constitutional grounds – which is really the bigger issue – in most jurisdictions it is not illegal for you to carry a gun and wear a mask assuming you carry it lawfully and don’t commit a crime. ~ David
David is an avid gun guy and a contributing writer to several major gun publications. In addition to being an NRA-certified RSO, David trains
new shooters on basic handgun skills and CCW requirements and is a strong advocate for training as much as you possibly can. "Real life shootouts don't happen at a box range."