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What Are the Gun Laws in North Carolina?

A Synopsis of North Carolina State Gun Laws


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Caution: This summary is meant for general purposes only. Firearm laws frequently change and the following answers may not reflect changes in the laws.


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.

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