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North Carolina Gun Laws

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


“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.”

Gun Laws Overview

Permit to Purchase No Yes
Registration of Firearms No No*
Licensing of Owners No No*
Permit to Carry No Yes

* Sheriff to retain and make available to law enforcement agencies a list of permitees.

The list and map below are included as a tool to assist you in validating your information.  We have made every effort to report the information correctly, however reciprocity and recognition agreements are subject to frequent change.  The information is not intended as legal advice or a restatement of law and does not include:  restrictions that may be placed on non-resident permits, individuals under the age of 21, qualifying permit classes, and/or any other factor which may limit reciprocity and/or recognition.  For any particular situation, a licensed local attorney must be consulted for an accurate interpretation.  YOU MUST ABIDE WITH ALL LAWS: STATE, FEDERAL AND LOCAL.

Castle Doctrine Enacted
No-Net Loss No Legislation
Right to Carry Confidentiality No Provisions
Right to Carry in Restaurants Legal
Right To Carry Laws Shall Issue
Right To Carry Reciprocity and Recognition Outright Recognition
Right to Keep & Bear Arms State Constitutional Provisions With Provisions
Concealed Carry Reciprocity
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Click on a State to see the Gun Law Profile


Laws on Purchase, Possession and Carrying of Firearms


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

It is lawful for citizens of the State to purchase rifles and shotguns and ammunition in states contiguous to this State.

Pistol Purchase Permit
Pursuant to North Carolina Statute 14-402, it is unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to sell, give away, or transfer, or to purchase or receive, any pistol without either a Pistol Purchase Permit or a North Carolina concealed handgun permit held by a resident of the State at the time of the purchase.

A license or permit must be obtained to purchase, sell, give away, transfer, inherit, or receive a handgun by applying to the county sheriff in which the purchase is to be made or where the receiver resides.  A purchase permit is good for five years from the date of issue.  Antique firearms are exempted. The sheriff 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 sheriff shall have fully satisfied himself as to the good moral character of the applicant, the applicant has successfully completed a criminal history check, and that the applicant desires the possession of the handgun for the protection of the home, business, person, family or property, target shooting, collecting, or hunting, such permit or license shall be issued.

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 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:

  • who is under indictment or who has been convicted of a felony except that if a person has been later pardoned or is not prohibited from purchasing a firearm under the Felony Act, he may obtain a permit or license;
  • who is a fugitive from justice; 
  • who is an unlawful user of or addicted to a drug;
  • who has been adjudicated mentally incompetent or has  been committed to any mental institution; 
  • who is dishonorably discharged from the military;
  • who has renounced his or her citizenship; or
  • who is under a court restraining order for harassing, stalking, threatening an intimate partner or a child.

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.


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


It is unlawful for any person under 18 to possess or carry a handgun. (This prohibition shall not apply to personnel of the Armed Forces of the U.S. when in discharge of their official duties; educational or recreational purpose while supervised by an adult who is present or an emancipated minor who possesses such handgun inside his or her residence; while hunting or trapping with written permission from a parent or guardian.

It is unlawful for a child under the age of 12 to possess or use any gun, loaded or unloaded, unless the child is under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian.


At least 45 days prior to the expiration date of a permit, the sheriff of the county where the permit was issued shall send a written notice to the permittee explaining the permit is about to expire, including information about the requirements for renewal of the permit. The notice shall be sent by first class mail to the last known address of the permittee. Failure to receive a renewal notice shall not relieve a permittee of the requirements imposed for renewal of a permit.  The permit of a permittee who applies for renewal within the 90 day period before expiration, who complies with this section, shall remain valid beyond the expiration date of the permit until the permittee either receives a renewal permit or is denied a renewal permit by the sheriff.  During the renewal period, a sheriff may waive the requirement to take another firearms safety and training course.  If a permit expires, a sheriff may waive the requirement of taking another firearms safety and training course if the permittee applies within 60 days after a permit expires.


It is unlawful to carry concealed about one’s person a firearm except on one’s own premises, or if the person has a concealed handgun permit. The sheriff shall issue a permit within 45 days after receipt of a complete application to an applicant who:

  • is at least 21 and a citizen of the U.S. and has been a resident of the State for at least 30 days immediately prior to filing the application;
  • does not suffer from a physical or mental infirmity that prevents the safe handling of a handgun;
  • has successfully completed an approved firearms safety and training course which involves the actual firing of handguns and instruction in the law governing the carrying of a concealed handgun and the use of deadly force;
  • is not currently or has not been adjudicated or administratively determined to be lacking mental capacity or mentally ill;
  • is or has not been adjudicated guilty or judgment continued or suspended sentence for a violent misdemeanor;
  • has not had judgment continued for or free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal, or sentencing for a disqualifying criminal offense;
  • has not been convicted of an impaired driving offense within three years prior to the date on which the application is submitted;
  • is not ineligible under federal or state law to possess, receive, or own a firearm.

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 is required to disclose to any law enforcement officer who addresses or approaches the permit holder that he or she is a permit holder and is carrying a concealed handgun.

The permit is valid throughout the state for 5 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 a renewal form, a notarized affidavit stating that the permit holder remains qualified, a full set of fingerprints and a $75.00 renewal fee. The sheriff may require the permittee to take another firearms safety and training course prior to renewal. The permit holder shall notify the sheriff who issued the permit of any change in the permanent address within 30 days. If a permit is lost or destroyed, the sheriff who issued the permit shall be notified.

Emergency Permit

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 valid concealed handgun permit or license issued by another state is valid in North Carolina. North Carolina Statute 14-415.24(a) and North Carolina Department of Justice website.

Prohibited Places

A permit does not authorize a person to carry a concealed handgun:

  • on public or private school property
  • in any assembly where a few has been charged for admission
  • in the State Capitol Building, the Executive Mansion, or the Western Residence of the Governor, or the grounds of any of these building;
  • in any building or portion of a building used for court purposes;
  • in a place prohibited by federal law,
  • in a law enforcement or correctional facility,
  • in a building housing only state, federal or government offices;
  • in any 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;
  • in 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.
Antiques and Replicas

Antique firearms are exempt from purchase restrictions.

Machine Guns

It is unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to manufacture, sell, give away, dispose of, use or possess a machine gun. This also includes any frame or receiver of such a weapon, or parts used in converting a weapon into a machine gun. State law requires a permit to possess the weapon from the sheriff. Federal law does not automatically legitimize the possession of a machine gun 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.



All regulation of firearms or ammunition is reserved to the state legislature, pursuant to North Carolina Statute 14-409.40.

Unless otherwise permitted by statute, no county or municipality, by ordinance, resolution, or other enactment, shall regulate in any manner the possession, ownership, storage, transfer, sale, purchase, licensing, or registration of firearms, firearms ammunition, components of firearms, dealers in firearms, or dealers in handgun components or parts.
A county or municipality, by zoning or other ordinance, may regulate or prohibit the sale of firearms at a location only if there is a lawful, general, similar regulation or prohibition of commercial activities at that location. Nothing in this subsection shall restrict the right of a county or municipality to adopt a general zoning plan that prohibits any commercial activity within a fixed distance of a school or other educational institution except with a special use permit issued for a commercial activity found not to pose a danger to the health, safety, or general welfare of persons attending the school or educational institution within the fixed distance.
No county or municipality, by zoning or other ordinance, shall regulate in any manner firearms shows with regulations more stringent than those applying to shows of other types of items.
A county or municipality may 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 have the authority under G.S. 153A-129, 160A-189, 14-269, 14-269.2, 14-269.3, 14-269.4, 14-277.2, 14-415.11, 14-415.23, to prohibit the possession of firearms in public-owned buildings, on the grounds or parking areas of those buildings, or in public parks or recreation areas, though nothing shall prohibit a person from storing a firearm within a motor vehicle while the vehicle is on these grounds or areas. Nothing contained in this section prohibits municipalities or counties from exercising powers provided by law in declared states of emergency under Article 36A of this Chapter.
Range Protection

A shooting range shall not be subject to a civil or criminal prosecution for claims of nuisance, noise or noise pollution.


§ 14-409.45. Definitions

The following definitions apply in this Article:

(1) Person.--An individual, proprietorship, partnership, corporation, club, or other legal entity.

(2) Sport shooting range or range.--An area designed and operated for the use of rifles, shotguns, pistols, silhouettes, skeet, trap, black powder, or any other similar sport shooting.

(3) Substantial change in use.--The current primary use of the range no longer represents the activity previously engaged in at the range.

§ 14-409.46. Sport shooting range protection

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person who owns, operates, or uses a sport shooting range in this State shall not be subject to civil liability or criminal prosecution in any matter relating to noise or noise pollution resulting from the operation or use of the range if the range was in existence at least three years prior to the effective date of this Article and the range was in compliance with any noise control laws or ordinances that applied to the range and its operation at the time the range began operation.

(b) A person who owns, operates, or uses a sport shooting range is not subject to an action for nuisance on the basis of noise or noise pollution, and a State court shall not enjoin the use or operation of a range on the basis of noise or noise pollution, if the range was in existence at least three years prior to the effective date of this Article and the range was in compliance with any noise control laws or ordinances that applied to the range and its operation at the time the range began operation.

(c) Rules adopted by any State department or agency for limiting levels of noise in terms of decibel level that may occur in the outdoor atmosphere shall not apply to a sport shooting range exempted from liability under this Article.

(d) A person who acquires title to real property adversely affected by the use of property with a permanently located and improved sport shooting range constructed and initially operated prior to the time the person acquires title shall not maintain a nuisance action on the basis of noise or noise pollution against the person who owns the range to restrain, enjoin, or impede the use of the range. If there is a substantial change in use of the range after the person acquires title, the person may maintain a nuisance action if the action is brought within one year of the date of a substantial change in use. This section does not prohibit actions for negligence or recklessness in the operation of the range or by a person using the range. 

(e) A sport shooting range that is operated and is not in violation of existing law at the time of the enactment of an ordinance and was in existence at least three years prior to the effective date of this Article, shall be permitted to continue in operation even if the operation of the sport shooting range at a later date does not conform to the new ordinance or an amendment to an existing ordinance, provided there has been no substantial change in use.

§ 14-409.47. Application of Article

Except as otherwise provided in this Article, this Article does not prohibit a local government from regulating the location and construction of a sport shooting range after the effective date of this Article.


It is unlawful to import, manufacture, possess, sell, transfer, or acquire 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. This prohibition does not apply if the minor obtained the firearm as a result of an unlawful entry by any person. 

The General Assembly has declared that the lawful sale and use of firearms and ammunition is not an unreasonably dangerous activity and does not constitute a nuisance. 

Standing to Bring Suit
The authority to bring suit and the right to recover against any firearms or ammunition marketer, manufacturer, distributor, dealer, seller, or trade association by or on behalf of any governmental unit, created by or pursuant to an act of the General Assembly or the Constitution, or any department, agency, or authority thereof, for damages, abatement, injunctive relief, or any other remedy resulting from or relating to the lawful design, marketing, manufacture, distribution, sale, or transfer of firearms or ammunition to the public is reserved exclusively to the State. Any action brought by the State pursuant to this section shall be brought by the Attorney General on behalf of the State. This section shall not prohibit a political subdivision or local governmental unit from bringing an action against a firearms or ammunition marketer, manufacturer, distributor, dealer, seller, or trade association for breach of contract or warranty for defect of materials or workmanship as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the political subdivision or local governmental unit.
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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.