|NC Firearms Laws
NORTH CAROLINA FIREARMS LAWS
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COMMONLY ASKED FIREARMS QUESTIONS
1. MAY I CARRY A CONCEALED WEAPON IN NORTH CAROLINA?
ANSWER: No. As a general rule, North Carolina law forbids private
citizens from carrying a concealed weapon, either on or
about their person, while off their premises unless they
have a concealed handgun permit. This prohibition
pertains to not only firearms, but also to any other deadly
weapon. You are referred to Sections III. A and B of this
publication for a more detailed analysis of this complex
area, to include transporting a firearm in a vehicle.
2. MAY I GET A PERMIT TO CARRY A CONCEALED WEAPON IN NORTH CAROLINA?
ANSWER: Yes, certain qualified North Carolina residents can get a
permit to carry concealed handguns under certain
circumstances. Currently, North Carolina allows out of
state concealed handgun permittees to carry concealed
handguns pursuant to such permits in North Carolina if
the person’s respective state also grants such privilege to
North Carolina concealed handgun permittees. The list
of states granting such reciprocity, and therefore
recognized by North Carolina, is constantly changing.
You should refer to the North Carolina Department of
Justice website at www.jus.state.nc.us for a current listing
of those states which are allowed to carry pursuant to
their concealed carry permits in North Carolina. Please
be aware that while carrying a handgun pursuant to such
permit, qualified out of state permittees are held to the
same standards as North Carolina permittees.
Consequently, there are a number of areas where
concealed handguns cannot be carried in North Carolina
regardless of the individual having a permit to carry a
concealed weapon. A more detailed discussion of what
areas prohibit the possession of a firearm is contained in
Section III. C. of this publication.
3. HOW DO I GET A HANDGUN PURCHASE PERMIT?
ANSWER: Pistol permits may be obtained from the Sheriff where
the purchaser or receiver resides. An application must be
submitted to the Sheriff by the individual who desires to
obtain a pistol permit, and must satisfy the requirements
of our state law. These requirements are set out in
Section II. of this publication.
4. HOW OLD MUST I BE TO PURCHASE A HANDGUN, SHOTGUN, OR RIFLE?
ANSWER: To purchase a handgun an individual must be 21 years or
older. The age at which a person can purchase a shotgun
or rifle is 18.
5. IS IT LAWFUL TO CARRY A WEAPON TO A BAR OR SIMILAR ESTABLISHMENT FOR
PURPOSES OF PROTECTION?
ANSWER: No. North Carolina General Statutes forbid a person to
carry a weapon into an assembly where an admission fee
has been charged or a place where alcoholic beverages are
sold and consumed. Also, a concealed handgun permit
does not allow for such. A more detailed discussion of
what areas prohibit the possession of a firearm is
contained in Section III. D. of this publication.
6. DO MY GUNS HAVE TO BE REGISTERED WITH THE SHERIFF OR POLICE DEPARTMENT
WHERE I LIVE?
ANSWER: Except as to the requirement to lawfully possess a
machine gun under G.S. § 14-409, North Carolina does
not require other types of firearms to be registered with
the Sheriff or Police Department. The only type of
"registration" requirement is that a purchaser or receiver
of a pistol must first obtain a pistol permit, for each
pistol, from the Sheriff of the county in which he resides.
7. HOW MANY PISTOL PERMITS CAN I GET AT ANY ONE TIME?
ANSWER: State law sets no limit on the number of permits which
can be obtained at any one given time. However,
consistent with their authority to regulate the issuance of
pistol permits, most Sheriff Departments will limit the
number of permits that one applicant may receive.
Typically, it is not uncommon for a Sheriff Department
to limit an applicant to a maximum of five such permits
in one year.
8. IF I BUY A HANDGUN FROM AN INDIVIDUAL WHOM I HAVE KNOWN FOR A NUMBER
OF YEARS AND WHO DOES NOT HAVE A CRIMINAL RECORD, DO I STILL NEED A
ANSWER: Yes. General Statute § 14-402 does not make any
exception for the receipt or purchase of a handgun from
a private individual as opposed to a firearms dealer.
Therefore, a permit is necessary before the transfer of any
9. CAN OUT OF STATE POLICE OFFICERS CARRY CONCEALED WEAPONS IN NORTH
CAROLINA WHILE ON DUTY?
ANSWER: No. There is no jurisdiction for an out of state police
officer to be functioning as a law enforcement officer on
duty while in North Carolina, unless he was escorting a
prisoner. In this situation, the weapon does not have to
be concealed at all, and it is recommended the officer not
10. HOW LONG IS MY PERMIT TO PURCHASE A HANDGUN VALID?
ANSWER: North Carolina law provides that permits will be valid for
11. FOR PURPOSES OF CARRYING CONCEALED WEAPONS, DOES IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE
IF THE WEAPON INVOLVED IS UNLOADED?
ANSWER: No. General Statute § 14-269 does not specify whether
the weapon has to be loaded or unloaded. Rather, you
look at the location of the weapon to determine whether
or not it was concealed.
12. IS A SMALL PISTOL OR KNIFE WHICH IS DESIGNED TO FIT INTO A BELT BUCKLE, BUT
IS FULLY FUNCTIONAL, CONSIDERED CONCEALED IN NORTH CAROLINA?
ANSWER: Yes. Gun and knife belt buckles described above falsely
give an impression of being ornamental in nature. As
their nature and purpose is concealed and misleading,
and coupled with the weapons immediate and ready
accessibility to the wearer of such a belt buckle, they
would be considered concealed.
13. HOW LONG MUST I BE A RESIDENT OF A COUNTY BEFORE I AM ELIGIBLE TO APPLY
FOR A PERMIT TO PURCHASE A PISTOL?
ANSWER: North Carolina law does not specifically address how long
an individual must reside in a county prior to making
application for a pistol permit. However, it is not
uncommon for a Sheriffs Department to establish a
policy with a minimum residency requirement.
14. IS THE SHERIFF OF THE COUNTY WHERE I RESIDE THE ONLY PERSON WHO CAN
ISSUE A PERMIT TO PURCHASE A HANDGUN?
ANSWER: Generally speaking yes; however, General Statute §
14-404 allows a non-resident of a county to obtain a
permit to purchase a pistol but only for the purpose of
15. DO NORTH CAROLINA LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS NEED TO APPLY FOR
CONCEALED HANDGUN PERMITS TO CARRY HANDGUNS CONCEALED OFF DUTY?
ANSWER: Effective December 1, 1995, authorized law enforcement officers may
carry concealed handguns state wide off duty as long as written
regulations authorizing the carrying of concealed handguns have been
filed by the superior officer in charge with the clerk of court in the
county in which the officer's law enforcement unit is located. These
regulations must strictly prohibit any officer from carrying his weapon
while under the influence or consuming alcohol. Departmental policy
and state law must be consulted as to areas an off duty officer would be
prohibited from carrying a weapon.
16. WHEN I REDEEM MY PAWNED PISTOL, DO I NEED TO OBTAIN A NORTH CAROLINA
STATE PISTOL PERMIT BEFORE RECEIVING MY HANDGUN?
ANSWER: No. North Carolina does not require the owner have a State pistol
permit prior to redeeming his pawned pistol. Federal Law however
would require a NICS inquiry or suitable alternative prior to
THE DO'S AND DON'TS OF CARRYING A CONCEALED HANDGUN
1. Your permit to carry a concealed handgun must be carried along with valid
identification whenever the handgun is being carried concealed.
2. When approached or addressed by any officer, you must disclose the fact that you have
a valid concealed handgun permit and inform the officer that you are in possession of a
concealed handgun. You should not attempt to draw or display either your weapon or your
permit to the officer unless and until he directs you to do so. Your hands are to be kept in
plain view and you are not to make any sudden movements.
3. At the request of any law enforcement officer, you must display both the permit and
4. You may not, with or without a permit, carry a concealed weapon while consuming
alcohol or while alcohol or any controlled substances are in your blood unless the controlled
substance was obtained legally and taken in therapeutically appropriate amounts.
5. You must notify the sheriff who issued the permit of any address change within thirty
(30) days of the change of address.
6. If a permit is lost or destroyed, you must notify the sheriff who issued the permit and
you may receive a duplicate permit by submitting a notarized statement to that effect along
with the required fee. Do not carry a handgun without it.
7. Even with a permit, you may not carry a concealed handgun in the following areas:
a) Any law enforcement or correctional facility;
b) Any space occupied by state or federal employees;
c) A financial institution;
d) Any premises where the carrying of a concealed handgun is prohibited by
the posting of a statement by the controller of the premises;
e) Educational property;
f) Areas of assemblies, parades, funerals, or demonstrations;
g) Places where alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed;
h) State occupied property;
I) Any state or federal courthouse;
j) In any area prohibited by federal law;
k) Any local government building if the local government had adopted an
ordinance and posted signs prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons.
8. If you are in a vehicle and stopped by a law enforcement officer, you should put both
hands on the steering wheel, announce you are in possession of a concealed handgun and
state where you have it concealed, and that you are in possession of a permit. Do not
remove your hands from the wheel until instructed to do so by the officer.
On February 28, 1994, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act became law. The
Brady Law established numerous procedures to govern purchases of firearms from federally
licensed firearms dealers. On November 30, 1998, the permanent provisions of the Brady
law took effect. The permanent provisions of the Brady law provide for the establishment
of a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) that federally licensed
firearms dealers must contact before transferring any firearm (handgun or long gun) to
people. The NICS system is operated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Effective December 1, 1995, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF)
decided that the handgun permitting scheme established in North Carolina complies with
the exceptions provided in the Brady Law. Therefore, North Carolina's handgun purchase
permits will suffice as a suitable alternative method for the purchase of a firearm in North
Carolina from a federally licensed firearms dealer under Brady.
Therefore all firearm sales from federally licensed dealers after November 30, 1998
must include a NICS inquiry or a recognized alternative such as a valid pistol purchase
Unless an alternative is recognized, if a person wants to purchase a firearm from a
licensed dealer, the dealer must contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s NICS
Operations Center by telephone. The dealer will provide pertinent information about the
purchaser to the NICS Center, which will in turn conduct a check of the available databases
to see if the person is disqualified to receive or possess firearms.
The NICS databases will include:
(1) Illegal/Unlawful Aliens File
(2) Controlled Substance Abuse File
(3) Dishonorable Discharge File
(4) Citizenship Renunciants File
(5) Mental Commitments File
(6) Wanted Persons File
(7) Domestic Violence Protection Order File
(8) Criminal History File
Prior to the sale taking place, the firearm’s dealer will have the purchaser complete and
sign ATF Form 4473, Firearms Transactions Record. He will then verify the identity of
the purchaser by examining a Government issued photo identification (for example, a
driver’s license). The dealer will then contact NICS. The NICS Center will respond to the
dealer with either a "proceed", "denied" or "delayed" response. If a "denied" response is
received the dealer will provide the person with literature on their appellate rights. If a
"delayed" response is received and there is no additional response from the system, the sale
can take place after three business days have elapsed.
Since North Carolina handgun purchase permits qualify as an alternative to a NICS check, a firearms
dealer may conclude a sale of a handgun or long gun without a NICS check, if the
purchaser delivers a valid pistol purchase permit to the dealer.
NOTE: North Carolina law allows for the purchase of a single handgun with a single
valid purchase permit. Multiple long guns may be purchased with a single pistol purchase
permit, however they must be purchased in a single transaction.
It is the opinion of the United States Department of Justice that a valid North Carolina
Concealed Handgun Permit may be used as an alternative to a NICS check for the purchase
of Long Guns only. Again multiple long guns may be purchased if they are purchased in
a single transaction.
As always, any other transfer between private individuals is also governed by
North Carolina's Pistol permit laws. Under North Carolina law, it is unlawful for any person, firm,
or corporation to sell, give away, transfer, purchase, or receive, at any place in the State any pistol unless the
purchaser or receiver has first obtained a license or permit to receive such a pistol by the
Sheriff of the county where the purchaser or receiver resides. This requirement to obtain
a permit prior to the transfer of a pistol applies not only to a commercial transaction,
typically at a sporting goods store, but also between private individuals or companies
throughout North Carolina.
In addition, this State law has been interpreted to require that a pistol permit be
obtained by the receiver of a handgun when such person inherits a pistol as a result of the
death of another person. The permit should be given to and retained by the seller or donor
of the handgun. In such a case, the permit should be given to the executor or receiver of
the estate of the deceased person.
Further, it is unlawful for any person to receive from any postmaster, postal clerk,
employee in the parcel post department, rural mail carrier, express agent or employee, or
railroad agent or employee, within the State of North Carolina, any pistol without having
in his or her possession such a pistol permit.
A violation of this pistol permit law is a Class 2 misdemeanor under North Carolina
law. The requirement of obtaining a permit prior to the receipt of a handgun, does not
apply to the purchase and receipt of "long guns", such as shotguns and rifles. The fee for
pistol permits is set by statute and is $5.00 per permit.
1. Federal Law Requirements
As a general rule, the following categories of persons are ineligible to receive or possess
a firearm under federal law.
(1) Persons under Indictment or Information in any court for a crime
punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
(2) Persons convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year. A person would not be ineligible under this
criteria if the person has been pardoned for the crime or conviction, the crime or conviction has been expunged or set aside, or the person has had
their civil rights restored, and under the law where the conviction occurred, the person is not prohibited from receiving or possessing any firearm.
(3) The person is a fugitive from justice.
(4) The person is an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana, or any
depressant, stimulant, or narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance.
(5) The person has been adjudicated mentally defective or has been committed
to a mental institution.
(6) The person has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable
(7) The person is illegally in the United States.
(8) The person, having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced
2. North Carolina Requirements
A county Sheriff is only authorized under G.S. § 14-402 to issue a permit to receive
or purchase a handgun or crossbow when an application is submitted by a person who is a
resident of his particular county. The sole exception is that the Sheriff may issue a permit
to a non-resident when the purpose of the permit is for collecting. Prior to issuing a permit,
the Sheriff must fully satisfy himself by affidavits, oral evidence, or otherwise, that the
applicant is of good moral character and that the person, firm, or corporation wants to
possess the weapon for one of the following purposes:
(1) The protection of his home, business, person, family, or property; or
(2) Target shooting; or
(3) Collection; or
Additionally, the Sheriff must verify by a criminal history background investigation
that it is not a violation of state or federal law for the applicant to purchase, transfer, receive
or possess a handgun. The Sheriff shall determine the criminal history of any applicant by
accessing computerized criminal history records as maintained by the State and Federal
Bureaus of Investigation, by conducting a national criminal history records check, and by
conducting a criminal history check through the Administrative Office of the Courts.
North Carolina law further specifies that a permit may not be issued to the following:
(1) An applicant who is under an indictment, or information for, or has been convicted in any
state, or in any Court of the United States, of a felony (other than an offense pertaining to
anti-trust violations, unfair trade practices, or restraints of trade). However, a person who has
been convicted of a felony and who is later pardoned may obtain a permit if the purchase or
receipt of the pistol or crossbow do not violate the conditions of the pardon;
(2) The applicant is a fugitive from justice;
(3) The applicant is an unlawful user of or addicted to marijuana, any depressant, stimulant, or narcotic drug;
(4) The applicant has been adjudicated incompetent or has been committed to any mental institution;
(5) The applicant is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States;
(6) The applicant has been discharged from the armed forces under dishonorable conditions;
(7) The applicant, having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced their citizenship;
(8) The applicant is subject to a court order that:
a. was issued after a hearing of which the person received actual notice, and at which the person had an opportunity to
b. restrains the person from harassing, stalking or threatening an
intimate partner of the person or child of the intimate partner
of the person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an
intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the
partner or child; and
c. includes a finding that the person represents a credible threat
to the physical safety of the intimate partner or child; or by its
terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened
use of physical force against the intimate partner or child that
would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury.
Each applicant for a license or permit should be informed by the Sheriff within
thirty (30) days of the date of his or her application whether the permit will be granted or
denied. When a Sheriff is not fully satisfied with the applicant's good moral character or
eligibility to receive a permit, he should notify the applicant of the reasons for his refusal
to issue a permit within seven (7) days of his decision. An applicant refused a permit has
a right to appeal such refusal to the Chief District Court Judge for the district in which the
application was filed.
A permit issued under the standards of state law is valid for a period of five years.
POSSESSING AND CARRYING FIREARMS
CARRYING CONCEALED WEAPONS
North Carolina law strictly controls the ability of individuals to carry weapons
concealed. Except under the limited concealed handgun permit provisions of state law,
described in section III.B of this publication, it is unlawful for any person in North
Carolina, except when on his own premises, to willfully and intentionally carry concealed
either on or about his person any "Bowie knife, dirk, dagger, slingshot, loaded cane, metallic
knuckles, razor, shurikin, stungun, or other deadly weapon of like kind." Specifically
exempted from the requirements of this law are ordinary pocket knives carried in a closed
position. An ordinary pocket knife is defined as being "a small knife, that is designed to be
carried in a pocket or purse, which has its cutting edge and point entirely enclosed by its
handle. The knife must not be capable of being opened by a throwing, explosive, or spring
Whether, in a given case, a weapon is concealed from the public, is a question of fact
to be resolved by a jury. By using the phrase "concealed about his person", this law makes
it illegal to have a weapon concealed not only on a person but also within a person's
convenient control and easy reach.
Only certain categories of persons in North Carolina are allowed, in particular
circumstances, to carry concealed weapons. The following categories of persons are exempt from the
restriction of North Carolina's concealed weapons laws.
(1) Officers and enlisted personnel of the armed forces of the United States when in the discharge of their official duties as such and when acting under orders requiring them to carry
arms and weapons;
(2) Civil and law enforcement officers of the United States while in the discharge of their official duties;
(3) Officers and soldiers of the Militia and the National Guard when called to actual service;
(4) 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;
(5) Sworn law enforcement officers, when off duty, if:
a. written regulations authorizing the carrying of concealed weapons have been filed with the Clerk
of Superior Court in the county where the law enforcement unit is located by the Sheriff or
Chief of Police or other superior officer in charge;
b. such regulations specifically prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons while the officer is
consuming or under the influence of alcoholic beverages.
CONCEALED HANDGUN PERMITS
As of December 1, 1995, certain residents of North Carolina may be eligible to obtain
a permit which would allow them to carry a concealed handgun under certain conditions.
No other weapons can be carried concealed pursuant to such permit.
As of August 14, 2003, North Carolina also allows certain out of state concealed
handgun permittees to carry concealed handguns pursuant to such permits in North
Carolina if the person’s respective state also grants such privilege to North Carolina
concealed handgun permittees. While carrying a handgun pursuant to such permit, qualified out of state
permittees are held to the same standards as North Carolina permittees. Consequently,
there are a number of areas where concealed handguns cannot be carried in North Carolina
regardless of the individual having a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
In order to acquire a North Carolina permit, an individual must apply to the Sheriff's Office
in the county in which he resides. As a part of the application process, the person must
submit several items. They must complete an application, under oath, on a form provided
by the Sheriff's Office. They must pay a non-refundable fee of $80.00. The Sheriff must
take two full sets of fingerprints of the applicant which may cost up to $10.00. The
applicant must provide an original certificate of completion of an approved handgun safety
course. The applicant must also provide a release that authorizes and requires disclosure
to the Sheriff of any record concerning the mental health or capacity of the applicant. Any
person or entity who is presented by the applicant or by the sheriff with an original or
photocopied release form as described in in G.S. 14-415.13(a)(5) shall promptly disclose
to the sheriff any records concerning the mental health or capacity of the applicant who
signed the form and authorized the release of the records.
The Sheriff has 90 days from the time all of the application materials are received to
either issue or deny a permit. In order for the applicant to be approved, he must:
(1) be a citizen of the United States;
(2) have been a resident of the state for no less than 30 days immediately
preceding the filing of the application;
(3) be at least 21 years of age;
(4) not suffer from any physical or mental infirmity that prevents the safe
handling of a handgun; and
(5) have successfully completed an approved firearms training course (unless
specifically exempted from the course by state law).
The Sheriff must deny the permit if certain prohibitions exist. The application must
be denied if the applicant:
(1) is ineligible to possess or receive a firearm under federal or state law;
(2) is under indictment or against whom a finding of probable cause exists
for a felony, or has ever been adjudicated guilty in any court of a
(3) is a fugitive from justice;
(4) is an unlawful user of or addicted to marijuana, alcohol, or any
depressant, stimulant or narcotic drug or any other controlled
(5) is currently, or has been previously adjudicated by a court or
administratively determined by a governmental agency whose decisions
are subject to judicial review to be, lacking mental capacity or mentally
ill. Receipt of previous consultive services or outpatient treatment
alone shall not disqualify an applicant;
(6) has been discharged from the armed services under conditions other
(7) has been convicted of an impaired driving offense under N.C.G.S. §
20-138.1, 20-138.2 or 20-138.3 within three years prior to the date
when the application was submitted;
(8) has had an entry of prayer for judgement continued for a criminal
offense which would disqualify the person from obtaining a concealed
(9) is free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal, or
sentencing for a crime which would disqualify him from obtaining a
concealed handgun permit; or
(10) has been adjudicated guilty or received prayer for judgement continued
or suspended sentence for one or more crimes of violence constituting
a misdemeanor, including, but not limited to, a violation of an offense
under Article 8 of Chapter 14 of the General Statutes; (This
encompasses most assault offenses).
(11) or a violation of a misdemeanor under the following provisions of the
North Carolina General Statutes: N.C.G.S. §§ 14-225.2, 14-226.1,
14-258.1, 14-269.2, 14-269.3, 14-269.4, 14-269.6, 14-276.1, 14-277, 14-277.1, 14-277.2, 14-277.3, 14-281.1, 14-283, 14-288.2, 14-
288.4(a)(1), or (2), 14-288.6, 14-288.9, 14-288.12, 14-288.13, 14-288.14, 14-318.2, or 14-415.21(b). (see appendix for a brief
description of these disqualifying offenses.)
Once the applicant is issued the permit to carry a concealed weapon, he/she must renew
the permit every five years. In order to renew the permit, the holder must file an
application for renewal with the Sheriff's Office in the county in which he resides at least
30 days prior to the expiration of the original permit. Along with this application, the
applicant must also submit to the Sheriff a notarized affidavit stating that he remains
qualified, the proper renewal fee of $75.00, and a newly administered set of fingerprints.
Prior to determining if an individual remains qualified, a Sheriff must update the
applicant's criminal history. The Sheriff may require the permittee take another firearms
safety and training course prior to renewal. No fingerprints shall be required for a renewal
permit if the applicant’s fingerprints were submitted to the State Bureau of Investigation
after June 30, 2001, on the Automated Fingerprint Information System (AFIS) as
prescribed by the State Bureau of Investigation.
In emergencies, a Sheriff may issue a temporary permit to an individual when the
Sheriff has reasonable belief that the person's safety or the safety of his property or family
is in immediate danger. In order to obtain this emergency permit, the applicant must first
establish to the Sheriff that an emergency situation exists. The person must also submit
an application, two sets of fingerprints, and the non-refundable fee of $80.00. The
temporary permit is valid for a maximum of 90 days, nonrenewable and may be revoked by
the Sheriff at any time without a hearing.
The law specifically exempts from the firearms safety and training course certain
qualified law enforcement officers. These officers include:
(1) an individual who retired from service as a law enforcement officer with a local,
state, or company police agency in North Carolina, other than for reasons of
mental disability, who has been retired as a sworn law enforcement officer two
years or less from the date of the permit application, and
a. has a nonforfeitable right to benefits under the retirement plan
to the local, state, or company police agency as a law enforcement
officer or has 20 or more aggregate years of law enforcement
service and has retired from a company police agency that does
not have a retirement plan.
(2) A current law enforcement officer employed by a local, state, or company police
agency in North Carolina who:
a. is authorized by the agency to carry a handgun in the course of
b. is not the subject of a disciplinary action by the agency that
prevents the carrying of a handgun; and
c. meets the requirements established by the agency regarding
Any individual who has applied for and has been issued a concealed handgun permit
must follow certain regulations concerning its use. Not only must the person carry the
permit along with proper identification whenever the handgun is being carried concealed,
but he must also inform any law enforcement officer who approaches him that he is in
possession of a permit and a concealed handgun. Failure to do so is an infraction for the
first offense and subjects the applicant to the payment of a fine of up to $100.00.
However, in lieu of paying a fine for the first offense, the individual may choose to
surrender his permit. Any subsequent offense shall be punished as a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Any individual who violates any other standards for the carrying of a concealed handgun
with a permit is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. Any person who has not been issued a
valid permit but carries a concealed handgun is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor for the first
offense and any subsequent offenses are Class I felonies.
Although a person may have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, they are not
authorized to carry that weapon anywhere they wish. The weapon may not be carried in the
(1) any area prohibited by N.C.G.S. §§ 14-269.3, 14-269.4, 14-277.2, or
120-32.1. (School grounds, areas where alcohol is sold and consumed,
state property, legislative buildings, and public gatherings such as
(2) any area prohibited by 18 USC § 922 or any other federal law;
(3) in any law enforcement agency or correctional facility;
(4) in a building housing only state or federal offices;
(5) in an office of the state or federal government that is not located in a
building exclusively occupied by the state or federal government;
(6) a financial institution; or
(7) any premises, except state owned rest areas or stops along the highways,
where notice that carrying a concealed handgun is prohibited by the
posting of a conspicuous notice or statement by the person in legal
possession or control of the premises.
North Carolina General Statutes § 14-415.23 provides that no political subdivisions,
boards, or agencies of the state nor any county, city, municipality, municipal corporation,
town, township, village, nor any department or agency thereof, may enact ordinances, rules,
or regulations concerning legally carrying a concealed handgun. A unit of local government
may, however, adopt an ordinance to permit the posting of a prohibition against carrying
a concealed handgun in local government buildings, their appurtenant premises, and parks.
Effective June 21, 1996, a new Article 53B was enacted which provides that with
certain exceptions the field of firearms regulation is preempted from regulation from local
governments. A county or municipality may regulate or prohibit the sale of firearms at a
location only if there is a lawful, general, similar regulation or prohibition of other
commercial activities at that location. A county or municipality may also regulate the
transport, carrying, or possession of firearms by employees of the local unit of government
in the course of their employment with that local unit of government. Municipalities or
counties retain their authority to prohibit the possession of firearms in publicly owned
buildings or grounds except that nothing would prohibit a person from storing a firearm
within a motor vehicle while the vehicle is on these grounds or areas.
Any person who has been issued a valid permit must notify the sheriff who issued the
permit within thirty days after he/she has a permanent change of address. If the permit is
lost or destroyed, he/she must notify the sheriff who issued the permit of such loss. They
are then eligible to obtain a duplicate permit by submitting to the sheriff a notarized
statement that the permit was lost or destroyed and paying the required duplicate permit
It is unlawful for the permittee to carry a concealed handgun while consuming alcohol
or at any time while the person has remaining in his body any alcohol or in his blood a
controlled substance previously consumed. However, a permittee does not violate this law
if a controlled substance in his blood was lawfully obtained and taken in therapeutically
The sheriff of the county where the permit was issued or the sheriff of the county where
the person resides may revoke a permit, subsequent to a hearing, for any of the following
(1) Fraud, intentional or material misrepresentation in the obtaining of a
(2) Misuse of a permit, including lending or giving a permit to another
person, duplicating a permit, or using a permit with the intent to
unlawfully cause harm to a person or property.
(3) The doing of an act or existence of a condition which would have been
grounds for the denial of the permit by the sheriff.
(4) The violation of any terms governing the carrying of concealed handguns.
(5) The applicant is adjudicated guilty, or receives a prayer for judgment
continued for, a crime which would have disqualified the applicant from
initially receiving a permit.
A permittee may appeal the revocation, or non-renewal of a permit by petitioning a
district court judge of the district in which the applicant resides. The determination by the
court, will be upon the facts, the law, and the reasonableness of the sheriff's refusal.
Given this general prohibition of carrying concealed weapons, individuals must be ever
vigilant to ensure that their particular situation cannot be construed as concealing a weapon
either on or about them without being properly authorized to do so with a valid North
Carolina or recognized out of state concealed handgun permit. Therefore, the person's
accessibility to the weapon is of prime importance. It is for these reasons, that when
transporting a weapon in a vehicle, even greater care must be exercised to ensure that the
weapon is not concealed and within the ready access to an occupant of the vehicle. North
Carolina law does not specifically address how to transport a weapon in an automobile.
Therefore, the central question becomes: when is the weapon concealed and readily
accessible to an occupant of the automobile? Obviously, a weapon would be concealed and
readily accessible, and therefore in violation of our law, if it were placed in such areas of a
vehicle as, under the seat of the automobile; in a bag in the back seat; or in some other
manner is covered or hidden within the easy reach of an occupant of the vehicle. It is our
recommendation that firearms should not be carried in a glove compartment regardless of
whether the compartment is locked or not.
While a weapon carried openly in an automobile would not be concealed, there are
other problems attendant to this method of carrying a weapon. The principal drawback, of
course, is in the event of a person being stopped by a law enforcement official, the officer
may not readily know that person's purpose and intent for carrying a weapon. As such, it
is imperative that a person immediately notify an officer of the presence of any weapon in
the automobile, for the officer's and the vehicle's occupants' safety. Another obvious
drawback, is that a valuable weapon may be in plain view for potential thieves to see. The
prohibition to carrying concealed weapons applies not only to handguns and other weapons
commonly thought of as being easily hidden, but also to "long guns" as well. Therefore,
shotguns and rifles concealed behind the seat of pickup trucks, and elsewhere in other
vehicles, could similarly violate our law.
As to those vehicles with no easily discernible trunk area, for example vans, the
question turns on a factual determination of when the weapon is within ready and easy
access to an occupant of the vehicle. If the weapon is concealed near, in close proximity to,
or within the convenient control and access of an occupant, which would allow him to use
the weapon quickly, then a fair probability exists that the occupant is in violation of the law.
Therefore, care must be exercised by any occupant of a vehicle to ensure that the weapons
are securely locked away in as remote an area as possible in relation to the passenger
compartment of the vehicle. It is important to emphasize that these prohibitions apply to
passengers, as well as the driver of a vehicle.
AREAS WHERE WEAPONS ARE PROHIBITED
North Carolina General Statute § 14-269.2 provides that it is a Class I felony for any
person to possess or carry, whether openly or concealed, any gun, rifle, pistol, or other
firearm of any kind, on educational property or to a curricular or extra-curricular activity
sponsored by a school. It is also a Class I felony, for any person to cause, encourage, or aid
a person who is less than 18 years old to possess or carry, whether openly or concealed, any
gun, rifle, pistol, or other firearm of any kind, on educational property. This particular
violation does not apply to BB guns, stun guns, air rifles, or air pistols.
It is a Class G felony for any person to possess or carry, whether openly or concealed,
any dynamite cartridge, bomb, grenade, mine, or powerful explosive, on educational
property or to a curricular or extra-curricular activity sponsored by a school. This
particular prohibition will not apply to fireworks. It is also a violation, punishable as a
Class G felony, for any person to cause, encourage, or aid a person who is less than 18 years
old to possess or carry, whether openly or concealed, any dynamite cartridge, bomb,
grenade, mine, or powerful explosive, on educational property. Again, this particular
violation does not apply fireworks.
It is a Class 1 misdemeanor for any person to possess or carry, whether openly or
concealed, any BB gun, stun gun, air rifle, air pistol, bowie knife, dirk, dagger, slingshot,
leaded cane, switchblade knife, blackjack, metallic knuckles, razors and razor blades (except
solely for personal shaving), fireworks, or any sharp pointed or edged instrument, except
instructional supplies, unaltered nail files and clips, and tools used solely for the preparation
of food, instruction, and maintenance on educational property. It is also a Class 1
misdemeanor for any person to cause, encourage, or aid a person who is less than 18 years
old to possess or carry, whether openly or concealed, any of these items on educational
These prohibitions will apply on any school building or bus, school campus, grounds,
recreational area, athletic field, or other property owned, used, or operated by any board of
education or school board of trustees, or directors for the administration of any school.
It is a misdemeanor, rather than a Class I felony, for any person to possess or carry,
whether openly or concealed, any gun, rifle, pistol, or other firearm of any kind, on
educational property or to a curricular or extracurricular activity sponsored by a school if:
(1) The person is not a student attending school on the educational property or an employee employed by the school working on the educational
(2) The person is not a student attending a curricular orextracurricular activity sponsored by the school at which the
student is enrolled or an employee attending a curricular orextracurricular activity sponsored by the school at which the
employee is employed; and
(3) The firearm is not loaded, is in a motor vehicle, and is in a lockedcontainer or a locked firearm rack.
The aforementioned prohibitions, will not apply to:
(1) A weapon used solely for educational or school sanctioned ceremonial
purposes, or used in a school approved program conducted under the
supervision of an adult whose supervision has been approved by the
(2) Fire fighters, emergency service personnel, North Carolina forest service
personnel, and any private police employed by an educational institution,
when acting in the discharge of their official duties;
(3) Those persons exempted by G.S. 14-269(b), as set forth in
paragraph III. A. of this publication; or
(4) Home schools.
No person is guilty of a criminal violation of this section so long as both of the
(1) The person comes into possession of a weapon by taking or
receiving the weapon from another person or by finding the
(2) The person delivers the weapon, directly or indirectly, as soon
as practical to law enforcement authorities.
A concealed handgun permit does not allow a permittee to carry a weapon on any school
ASSEMBLIES AND ESTABLISHMENTS
North Carolina law also prohibits any person carrying a gun, rifle, or pistol into any
assembly where a fee has been charged for admission or into any establishment where
alcoholic beverages are both sold and consumed. Again, the individuals exempted from
carrying concealed weapons cited in paragraph III.A of this publication are similarly
exempted under this law. A concealed handgun permit does not allow a permittee to carry
a weapon in these areas. The following are also included in this exemption:
(1) The owner or lessee of the premises or business;
(2) A person participating in the event, if he is carrying a gun, rifle, or pistol
with the permission of the owner, lessee, person, or organization
sponsoring the event; and
(3) A person registered or hired as a security guard by the owner, lessee,
person, or organization sponsoring the event.
3. STATE BUILDINGS
It is also unlawful under state law, for any person to possess or carry a weapon, not
used for instructional or officially sanctioned ceremonial purposes, in the State Capitol
Building, Executive Mansion, Western Residence of the Governor, or on the grounds of
these buildings, including any building used to house any Court of the General Court of
Justice. Persons exempted by the provisions of G.S. 14-269(b) are not bound by this
prohibition. These persons are set forth in Paragraph III. A. of this publication. Also
exempt are persons in possession of weapons for evidentiary purposes, or who are delivering
the weapon to a law enforcement agency. This prohibition does not apply to state owned
rest areas, rest stops along the highways, and state owned hunting and fishing reservations.
Possessing or carrying a weapon in these areas is a misdemeanor. A concealed handgun
permit does not allow a permittee to carry a weapon in these areas.
4. EVENTS OCCURRING IN PUBLIC PLACES
North Carolina law further makes it unlawful for any person participating in, affiliated
with, or present as a spectator at any parade, funeral procession, picket line, or
demonstration upon any public place owned or under the control of the State or any of its
political subdivisions to willfully or intentionally possess or have immediate access to any
dangerous weapon. Persons exempted by the provisions of G.S. 14-269(b) are not bound
by this prohibition. These persons are set forth in Paragraph III. A. of this publication.
A concealed handgun permit does not allow a permittee to carry a weapon in these areas.
5. AREAS OF EMERGENCIES AND RIOTS
It is also a misdemeanor under North Carolina law for a person to transport or possess,
off his own premises, a dangerous weapon in an area during a declared state of emergency,
or in the vicinity of a riot. A concealed handgun permit does not allow a permittee to carry
a weapon in these areas.
6. GOING ARMED TO THE TERROR OF THE PEOPLE
By common law in North Carolina, it is unlawful for a person to arm himself with any
unusual and dangerous weapon, for the purpose of terrifying others, and go about on public
highways in a manner to cause terror to others. The N.C. Supreme Court has said that any
gun is an unusual and dangerous weapon for purposes of this offense. Therefore persons
are cautioned as to the areas they frequent with firearms.
7. STORAGE OF FIREARMS
Any person who resides in the same premises as a minor, who owns or possesses a
firearm, and stores or leaves that firearm in a condition that the firearm can be discharged
and in a manner that the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised minor
would be able to gain access to the firearm, is guilty of a misdemeanor if such minor gains
access to the firearm without the lawful permission of the minor's parents or a person
having charge of the minor, and the minor in turn possesses that weapon unlawfully on any
campus or educational property in North Carolina; exhibits the weapon in a public place
in a careless, angry, or threatening manner; causes personal injury or death with the weapon
not in self defense; or uses the weapon in the commission of a crime. A minor is defined
in this law as anyone under the age of 18 who is not emancipated.
This law goes on to provide that it shall not prohibit a person from carrying a firearm
on his or her body or placed in such close proximity that it can be used as easily and quickly
as if carried on the body. This provision of the law should not be interpreted however to
modify the previously recited law on carrying concealed weapons in North Carolina.
Additionally, this law does not apply if the minor obtained the weapon as a result of an
unlawful entry by any person.
A written copy of this firearms storage law, found in G.S. § 14-315.1, is required to
be delivered by the transferor in any retail commercial sale or transfer of a firearm to the
purchaser or transferee of such weapon. All such transferors should take appropriate steps
to have a verbatim copy of this law available at the time of any transfer of a weapon.
IV. RESTRICTED AND PROHIBITED WEAPONS
A. BALLISTIC OR PROJECTILE KNIVES
Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute § 14-269.6, it is unlawful for any person,
including law enforcement officers of the State, or of any county, city, or town, to possess,
offer for sale, hold for sale, sell, give, loan, deliver, transport, manufacture, or go armed
with any spring loaded projectile knife, a ballistic knife, or any weapon of similar character.
The sole exception to this law is that a law enforcement agency may possess such a weapon
solely for evidentiary, education, or training purposes. Basically, a projectile or ballistic
knife is one which propels or shoots its blade from the handle.
Federal law, found in 15 U.S.C. § 1243, prohibits the manufacture, sale, or possession
of a switchblade knife.
B. WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
North Carolina General Statute § 14-288.8 provides that it is unlawful for any person
to manufacture, assemble, possess, store, transport, sell, offer to sell, purchase, offer to
purchase, deliver, give to another, or acquire any weapon of mass death and destruction.
A weapon of mass death and destruction includes:
(1) bombs of all sorts;
(3) rockets having a propellant charge of more than 4 ounces;
(4) a missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than
(6) any type of weapon (other than a shotgun or a shotgun shell of
a type particularly suitable for sporting purposes) which will
expel a projectile using an explosive or other propellant and
which has a barrel with a bore of more than one-half inch in
(7) any firearm capable of fully automatic fire;
(8) any shotgun with a barrel length less than eighteen inches or an
overall length of less than twenty-six inches;
(9) a rifle with a barrel length of less than sixteen inches or an
overall length of less than twenty-six inches;
(10) any muffler or silencer for any firearm, whether or not such
firearm is included within this definition;
(11) any combination of parts either designed or intended for use in
converting a device into any weapon described above and from
which a weapon of mass death and destruction may readily be
Thus, a device which could convert a semi-automatic firearm into one capable of fully
automatic fire, would be in violation of this statute, whether or not one actually possesses
such a weapon. The possession of the device itself is a crime. If any person possesses a
weapon of mass death and destruction in violation of this statute, he would be guilty of a
Class I Felony.
The only persons capable of owning or possessing a weapon of mass death and
destruction, as defined above, are the following:
(1) Persons exempted from the provisions of carrying a concealed
weapon in North Carolina with respect to any activity lawfully
engaged in while carrying out their duties;
(2) Importers, manufacturers, dealers, and collectors of firearms,
ammunition, or destructive devices validly licensed under the
laws of the United States or the
State of North Carolina, while lawfully engaged in activities authorized under
(3) Persons under contract with the United States, the State of
North Carolina, or any agency of either government, with
respect to any activities lawfully engaged in under their
(4) Inventors, designers, ordinance consultants and researchers,
chemists, physicists, and other persons lawfully engaged in
pursuits designed to enlarge the knowledge of or to facilitate the
creation, development, or manufacture of weapons of mass
death and destruction intended for use in a manner consistent
with the laws of the United States and the State of North
D. MACHINE GUNS
Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute § 14-409 it is unlawful for any person,
firm, or corporation to manufacture, sell, give away, dispose of, use or possess machine
guns, sub-machine guns, or other like weapons. A machine gun or sub-machine gun is one
which shoots, or can be readily restored to shoot more than one round, without manual
reloading, by a single function of the trigger. It also includes any frame or receiver of such
a weapon, or parts used in converting a weapon into a machine gun or sub-machine gun.
This prohibition does not apply to the following:
(1) Banks, merchants, and recognized business establishments for
use in their respective places of business. However, these
persons must first apply to and receive from the Sheriff of the
county in which their business is located, a permit to possess the
weapon for the purpose of defending their business;
(2) Officers and soldiers of the United States Army, when in the
discharge of their official duties;
(3) Officers and soldiers of the Militia when being called into actual
(4) Officers of the State, or county, city or town, charged with the
execution of laws of the State, when acting in the discharge of
their official duties; and
(5) The manufacture, use, or possession of such weapons for
scientific or experimental purposes when such manufacture, use,
or possession is lawful under federal laws and the weapon is
registered with a Federal agency, and a permit to manufacture,
use, or possess the weapon has been obtained by the Sheriff of
the county in which the weapon is located.
Any bona fide resident of the state who now owns a machine gun used in former wars
may retain and keep that weapon at his own property, as a relic or souvenir, without
violating the provisions of this section, as long as he reports this weapon to the Sheriff of
the county in which he lives.
Therefore, certain conditions must be met by the possessor of a machine gun before it
may be lawfully kept in North Carolina. First, the possessor must fall within one of the
specifically listed exceptions to the general prohibition of ownership. Second, one must also
apply for a permit to possess the weapon from the Sheriff. It is then the responsibility of
the Sheriff to satisfy himself as to the lawfulness of the reason for such possession and of
the good moral character of the possessor. Among other considerations, the Sheriff should
consider the inherent danger to the public as a result of the possession of a machine gun.
It has been consistently held within our office that the valid licensing of an individual
to possess a machine gun under Federal law does not automatically legitimate his possession
of the weapon in the various counties of North Carolina. Nor does such federal licensing
require the Sheriff to issue a permit for the possession of such a weapon without first
satisfying the prerequisites of G.S. § 14-409. Therefore, the permit provisions of G.S. §
14-409 would need to be complied with, even though a person is currently licensed under
federal law to possess a machine gun.
V. FELONY FIREARMS ACT
Another aspect of North Carolina law necessary for a good working knowledge of
firearms laws, is our Felony Firearms Act, found in G.S. § 14-415.1. This restriction on
gun ownership applies to any person who has been convicted of any North Carolina felony
or violations of criminal laws of other States, or the United States, which are punishable
by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year. These individuals cannot purchase, own,
possess, or have in their custody, care, or control, any handgun or firearm with a barrel
length of less than eighteen inches or overall length of less than twenty-six inches, or any
weapon of mass death and destruction. This prohibition continues indefinitely. This
prohibition however, does not infringe upon the right of any person to have possession of
a firearm within his own home or in his lawful place of business. However, if a person is
on parole, he must still have the written permission of the Parole Commission to so possess
The Federal Firearms Statute, at 18 U.S.C. §§ 922, is independent of North Carolinas'
and should be consulted before anyone convicted of a felony, in any state or federal Court,
possesses, receives or transports any firearm. For detailed information on this federal law,
persons are urged to contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, or the U.S.
Attorneys Office in their area.
VI. AGE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE PURCHASE AND POSSESSION OF
North Carolina law does not currently address specific age requirements for the
purchase of weapons. Rather, they look to the federal standards for such restrictions.
Under federal law, at 18 U.S.C. § 1922(b)(1), federally licensed gun dealers are prohibited
from selling handguns to persons under the age of 21. Further, all other purchasers of
shotguns and rifles are required to be at least 18 years old.
North Carolina General Statute § 14-269.7 provides that it is a misdemeanor for any
person under the age of 18 to possess or carry a handgun. A handgun is defined as a
firearm that has a short stock and is designed to be fired by the use of a single hand, or any
combination of parts from which such a firearm can be assembled. The punishment for this
misdemeanor is imprisonment for up to six months, a fine of up to $500.00, or both. This
prohibition does not apply to the following:
(1) Officers and enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces of the United States
when in discharge of their official duties or acting under orders requiring
them to carry handguns.
(2) A minor who possesses a handgun for educational or recreational purposes
while the minor is supervised by an adult who is present.
(3) An emancipated minor who possesses such a handgun inside his or her
(4) A minor who possesses a handgun while hunting or trapping outside the
limits of an incorporated municipality if he has on his person written
permission from a parent, guardian, or other person standing in loco
Effective January 1, 1995 North Carolina law found in G.S. § 14-315, prohibits any
person from selling, offering for sale, giving away, or in any way transferring to a person
under the age of 18 any pistol cartridge, brass knucks, Bowie knife, dirk, shurikin, leaded
cane, or slingshot. Any person who violates this law is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and,
in addition, shall forfeit the proceeds of any sale made in violation of this prohibition.
This statute further provides that it is a Class H felony for a person to sell, offer for
sale, give, or in any way transfer to a person less than 18 years of age any handgun as
defined in G.S. § 14-269.7. Additionally, an individual guilty of this offense would forfeit
the proceeds of any sale made in violation of this section. This law does not apply to the
(1) When the handgun is lent to a minor for temporary use if the minor's
possession of the handgun is lawful under G.S. § 14-269.7 and G.S. §
14-316 and is not otherwise unlawful.
(2) When the handgun is transferred to an adult custodian pursuant to
Chapter 33A of the General Statutes, and the minor does not take
possession of the handgun except that the adult custodian may allow the
minor temporary possession of the handgun in circumstances in which the
minor's possession of the handgun is lawful under G.S. § 14-269.7 and
G.S. § 14-316 and is not otherwise unlawful.
(3) When the handgun is a devise or legacy and is distributed to a parent or
guardian under G.S. § 28A-22-7, and the minor does not take possession
of the handgun except that the parent or guardian may allow the minor
temporary possession of the handgun in circumstances in which the
minor's possession of the handgun is lawful under G.S. § 14-269.7 and
G.S. § 14-316 and is not otherwise unlawful.
It is a defense to a violation of this law if all of the following conditions are met:
(1) The person shows that the minor produced an apparently valid permit to
receive the weapon, if such permit would be required under G.S. § 14-402
or G.S. § 14-409.1 for transfer of the weapon to an adult.
(2) The person reasonably believed that the minor was not a minor.
(3) The person either:
a. Shows that the minor produced a drivers license, a special
identification card issued under G.S. §20-37.7, a military
identification card, or a passport, showing the minor's age to be
at least the required age for purchase and bearing a physical
description of the person named on the card reasonably
describing the minor; or
b. Produces evidence of other facts that reasonably indicated at the
time of sale that the minor was at least the required age.
Under G.S. § 14-316, a guardian or parent of a child under 12 may not allow such
child to have possession, custody, or the use of any gun, pistol, or dangerous firearm, except
under the parent or guardian's direct supervision. Air rifles, air pistols, and BB guns shall
not be deemed "dangerous firearms" within the meaning of this statute except in: Anson,
Caldwell, Caswell, Chowan, Cleveland, Cumberland, Durham, Forsyth, Gaston, Harnett,
Haywood, Mecklenburg, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Union and Vance Counties.