North Carolina Gun Law Summary


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.

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 excepted. 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.

An appeal from such refusal may be made 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.


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.


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 90 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 five 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. 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:

  • on public or private school property.
  • In any assembly where a fee has been charged for admission.
  • In any establishment where alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed.
  • 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 financial institution;.
  • 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. It is unlawful for any person to transport or possess off his own premises any “dangerous weapon” in any area under a declared state of emergency or in the immediate vicinity of a riot.

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.


It is unlawful to hunt on Sunday with a firearm.

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.

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. This does not prohibit a unit of local government from posting against carrying where state law forbids concealed firearms.

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, ammunition, components of firearms, dealers in firearms, or dealers in handgun components or parts.

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. No government entity, agency, department or authority in the state may pursue an action for damages, abatement, injunctive relief, or any other remedy related to the lawful manufacture of firearms or ammunition. Only the Attorney General, acting on behalf of the state, is authorized to bring a suit against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer with regard to the lawful manufacture of firearms or ammunition. A local government entity is only authorized to bring an action for breach or contract or breach of warranty.

SOURCE: N.C. Gen. Statutes 14-34 et seq., 14-269 et seq., 14-277.2, 14-288.8, 14-315 et seq., 14-316, 14-402, 14-403, 14-404, 14-405, 14-407.1, 14-409, 14-409.40 et seq., 14-415, 103-103.2