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Laws For

North Carolina

As of April, 2000

A synopsis of state laws on purchase, possession and carrying of firearms.

PLEASE NOTE: In addition to state laws, the purchase, sale and (in certain circumstances) the possession and interstate transportation of firearms is regulated by the Gun Control Act of 1968 as amended by the Firearms Owners' Protection Act. Also, cities and localities may have their own firearms ordinances in addition to federal and state laws. Details may be obtained by contacting local law enforcement authorities, and by consulting the State Laws and Published Ordinances:Firearms, available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.
CAUTION: State firearms laws are subject to frequent change. The above summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law. To determine the applicability of these laws to specific situations which you may encounter, you are strongly urged to consult a local attorney.


Rifles and Shotguns

Permit to Purchase


Registration of Firearms


Licensing of Owners


Permit to Carry

*Police recordation is made of handgun acquisitions.


"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, and, as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they shall not be maintained, and the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power. Nothing herein shall justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons, or prevent the General Assembly from enacting penal statutes against that practice." Article 1, Section 30.


There are no state licensing requirements to possess a rifle shotgun, or handgun.

It is unlawful for any parent or guardian to permit his child under the age of 12 to possess or use "any gun," except when the child is under their direct supervision.1 It is unlawful for any other person to furnish any firearm to a child.

It is unlawful for any person convicted of certain felonies to purchase, own, have or possess any firearm with a barrel of less than 18 inches or an overall length of less than 26 inches, within five years of conviction, unconditional discharge from a correctional institution, or termination of a suspended sentence, probation or parole, whichever is later, unless he has had his rights restored.

It is unlawful for any person to manufacture, assemble, possess, transport, sell, purchase, deliver, or give to another, any fully automatic firearm, shotgun with a barrel of less than 18 inches or an overall length of less than 26 inches, rifle with a barrel length of less than 16 inches, or an overall length of less than 26 inches, any muffler or silencer for any firearm, or any projectile device, other than a shotgun, with a bore diameter of more than 1/2 inch. Excepted are any surplus ordinance sold, loaned or given by the Secretary of the Army pursuant to Title 10 of the United States Code or any device which the Secretary of the Treasury finds is not likely to be used as a weapon, is an antique, or is a rifle intended to be used solely for sporting purposes under Title 18 of the United States Code.

It is unlawful to possess, or carry, whether openly or concealed, any firearm not used solely for instructional or officially sanctioned ceremonial purposes in the State Capitol Building, the Executive Mansion, the Western Residence of the Governor, or on the grounds of any of these buildings or in any court. This prohibition shall not apply to state owned rest areas, rest stops along the highways, and state owned hunting and fishing reservations and to members of the armed forces, law enforcement officers and U.S. civil officers while in the discharge of their official duties, and members of the militia and national guard when on duty or called into actual service.

It is unlawful for any person to possess any firearm in any public or private school building or bus, campus, grounds, recreation area, athletic field or other property used or owned by an educational institution. Excepted are members of the armed forces, U.S. civil officers and law enforcement officers while in the discharge of their duties, members of the militia and National Guard when called into actual service and private police employed by the educational institution and for use in a school approved program. It is unlawful for any person to carry a firearm into any assembly where a fee has been charged for admission or where alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed. This does not apply to the owner or lessee of the premises, a person participating in the event and carrying a firearm with the permission of the owner, or a person registered or hired as a security guard by the owner, lessee, or the person or organization sponsoring the event.


No state permit is required to purchase a rifle or shotgun.

A license or permit must be obtained to purchase, sell, give away, transfer, or receive a handgun by applying to the county sheriff or the clerk of the Superior Court of the county in which the purchase is to be made. Antique firearms and historic, edged weapons are excepted. This does not apply to a law enforcement officer authorized to carry firearms, if the purchase is directly related to his/her official duties.

The sheriff or the clerk2 authorized to issue the license or permit shall issue such license or permit to a resident of that county, unless the purpose of the license or permit is for collecting, in which case a license or permit may be issued to a nonresident when the official shall have fully satisfied himself by affidavits, oral evidence, or otherwise, as to the good moral character of the applicant and that such person desires the possession of the handgun for:

For good cause shown, a license or permit may be denied, and within seven (7) days of such refusal a written statement of the reason for such refusal shall be issued to the applicant. Each applicant for any such license or permit shall be informed within thirty (30) days of the date of such application whether such license or permit shall be granted or denied, and, if granted, such license or permit shall be immediately issued to said applicant. A permit or license may not be issued to a person

An appeal from such refusal shall lie by way of petition to the Chief Judge of the District Court for the district in which the application was filed.

A permit is valid for the purchase of only one handgun. To obtain another handgun, an applicant must procure another permit and must convince the issuing authority that he needs more than one handgun. The permit is $20.00 payable upon issuance of the license by the sheriff or clerk.

The sheriff or clerk shall keep a record of all permits issued. This record shall contain the name, date, residence, and age of every licensee. Every dealer who sells pistols shall keep a record of all such sales.

A license or permit must be obtained from the Clerk of the Superior Court to purchase or receive any pistol suitable for firing blank cartridges. It is unlawful to sell, offer for sale, give or dispose of in any way, a handgun to a minor.

It is unlawful for any person under 18 to possess or carry a handgun. Any minor in possession of a handgun is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to 6 months, a fine up to $500.00, or both. This prohibition shall not apply to officers and enlisted personnel of the Armed Forces of the U.S. when in discharge of their official duties or acting under orders requiring them to carry handguns, for educational or recreational purposes while supervised by an adult who is present, an emancipated minor who possesses such handgun inside his or her residence, and possession while hunting or trapping with written permission from a parent, guardian or other person standing in loco parentis.


It is unlawful to "carry concealed about one's person" a handgun, or "other deadly weapon of like kind," except on one's own premises, or the person has a concealed handgun permit. The sheriff shall issue a permit within 90 days after receipt of a complete application to an applicant who:

A person shall apply to the sheriff of the county in which the person resides to obtain a concealed handgun permit. The applicant shall submit to the sheriff an application completed under oath, on a form provided by the sheriff, an $80.00 non-refundable permit fee, a full set of fingerprints administered by the sheriff, an additional fee not to exceed $10.00 to pay for the costs of processing the applicant's fingerprints, an original certificate of completion of an approved safety course, a release that authorizes and requires disclosure to the sheriff of any records concerning the mental health or capacity of the applicant. The permit holder must carry the permit, together with valid identification, whenever carrying a concealed handgun, and shall disclose to any law enforcement officer who addresses or approaches the permit holder that he is a permit holder and is carrying a concealed handgun. The permit is valid throughout the state for 4 years from the date of issuance. The permit holder shall apply to renew the permit at least 30 days prior to its expiration date by filing with the sheriff of the county of residence a renewal form, a notarized affidavit stating that the permit holder remains qualified, a full set of fingerprints and pay an $80.00 renewal fee. The permit holder shall notify the sheriff who issued the permit of any change in the permanent address within 30 days after the change of address. If a permit is lost or destroyed the sheriff who issued the permit shall be notified. The duplicate permit fee is $15.00. The permit application shall be in triplicate, and shall include the name, address, physical description, signature, date of birth, social security number, military status, and the driver's license or state identification number.

The permit application shall also contain a warning as follows: CAUTION: Federal law and State law on the possession of handguns and firearms differ. If you are prohibited by federal law from possessing a handgun or a firearm, you may be prosecuted in federal court. A state permit is not a defense to a federal prosecution.

If the sheriff denies the application for a permit, the sheriff shall within 90 days notify the applicant in writing, stating the grounds for denial. An applicant may appeal the denial, revocation, or nonrenewal of a permit by petitioning a district court judge of the district in which the application was filed. The determination of the court shall be final. The sheriff may issue a temporary permit for a period not to exceed 90 days to a person who the sheriff reasonably believes is in an emergency situation that may constitute a risk of safety to the person, the person's family or property. The temporary permit may not be renewed and may be revoked by the sheriff without a hearing.

A permit does not authorize a person to carry a concealed handgun in a place prohibited by federal law, a law enforcement or correctional facility, a building housing state, federal or government offices, a financial institution, or any other premises 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. It is unlawful 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.

It shall be 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 sub divisions to willfully or intentionally possess or have immediate access to any firearm. This prohibition shall not apply to persons authorized by law to carry dangerous weapons in the performance of their duties or any person who obtains a permit to carry a firearm at a parade, funeral procession, picket line, or demonstration from the sheriff or police chief of the locality where such activity is to take place. It is unlawful for any person to transport or possess any "dangerous weapon" in any area under a declared state of emergency or in the immediate vicinity of a riot.


Antique firearms are exempt from the requirement listed above under "PURCHASE." An antique is defined as one "manufactured in or before 1898 (including any matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap or similar early-type of ignition system) or replica thereof, whether actually manufactured before or after the year 1898; and also any firearm using fixed ammunition manufactured in or before 1898, for which ammunition is no longer manufactured in the United States and is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade."


It is unlawful for any person to "manufacture, sell, give away, dispose of, use or possess" an automatic weapon.

Excepted from this prohibition are:


Anyone convicted of robbery or attempted robbery with the use of any firearm shall be guilty of a felony and must serve a minimum of five years in prison.

It is unlawful to hunt on Sunday with any rifle, shotgun or handgun.

It is unlawful to point a gun, whether loaded or not at any person. Anyone who commits an assault with a firearm or any other deadly weapon upon any law enforcement officer, fireman, or medical emergency personnel shall be guilty of a class 1 felony.

It is unlawful to teach or demonstrate the use of firearms knowing or having reason to know or intending that firearms will be used in a civil disorder or in furtherance thereof, or assembly with other persons for the purpose of training with or practicing with or being instructed in the use of firearms in furtherance of a civil disorder.

It is unlawful for any person to possess, transport, receive, transfer, manufacture or import "any Teflon-coated bullet."

Any person who resides in the same premises as a person under 18, owns or possesses a firearm, and stores or leaves the 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 a minor gains access to the firearm without the lawful permission of the minor's parents or guardian. This prohibition does not apply if the minor obtained the firearm as a result of an unlawful entry by any person.

Any retail or wholesale store that sells firearms shall conspicuously post at each purchase counter the following warning in block letters not less than one inch in height the phrase: IT IS UNLAWFUL TO STORE A FIREARM THAT CAN BE DISCHARGED IN A MANNER THAT A REASONABLE PERSON SHOULD KNOW IS ACCESSIBLE TO A MINOR.

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.


1. In certain counties, "any gun" has been construed to include air rifles and BB guns.

2. The issuing authority may be one or the other, depending on the county.

3. "about one's person" has been held to include any weapon within easy reach or one that is readily accessible.

Posted: 2000-07-26

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