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North Carolina Firearms Information

Concealed Weapons Reciprocity

Source: North Carolina Department of Justice

Since 1995, North Carolina has allowed qualifying residents of the state to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun from the sheriff of the applicant’s home county. The permit is valid for five years unless it is revoked.

SBI analysts compile county-by-county statistics on permits allowed, denied and revoked.

Please see our publication North Carolina Firearms Laws for a list of “Do’s and Don’ts” for carrying a concealed handgun in North Carolina. This information is designed as a reference guide only and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

Other States’ Permits Honored Here

Effective December 1, 2011, North Carolina automatically recognizes concealed carry permits issued in any other state.

Out-of-state permit holders should familiarize themselves with North Carolina’s laws.

For example, in North Carolina, concealed handguns may not be carried:
  • In law enforcement or correctional facilities such as a prison;
  • In any space occupied by state or federal employees, including state and federal courthouses;
  • In schools or on school grounds;
  • In areas of assemblies, parades, funerals or demonstrations;
  • In any place where alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed (such as some restaurants);
  • In any area where concealed handguns are prohibited by federal law;
  • In any place of business that has posted a sign banning concealed weapons on its premises;
  • By any person while consuming alcohol or while under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substances (unless obtained legally and taken as directed by a physician).
To possess a concealed handgun in North Carolina, you must:
  • Carry your permit and a valid form of identification with you at all times.
  • Disclose the fact that you have a valid concealed handgun permit when you are approached or addressed by any law enforcement officer in North Carolina.
  • Inform the officer that you are in possession of a concealed handgun.
  • Present both the permit and valid identification at the request of an officer
    NOTE: You should not attempt to display either your weapon or your permit unless directed to by an officer.
Permits Honored in Other States
Permit holders should know that while they can legally carry a concealed handgun while visiting these states, they’re subject to that state’s laws state and are responsible for learning about those laws.
States with North Carolina Agreements
Alabama Kentucky Oklahoma
Alaska Louisiana Pennsylvania
Arizona Michigan South Carolina
Arkansas Mississippi South Dakota
Colorado Missouri Tennessee
Delaware Montana Texas
Florida Nebraska Utah
Georgia Nevada Virginia
Idaho New Hampshire (resident permits only) Washington
Indiana New Mexico  West Virginia
Iowa North Dakota  Wisconsin
Kansas Ohio  Wyoming
Law enforcement can contact our law enforcement liaison attorneys at the Department of Justice at (919) 716-6500 or by fax at (919) 716-6760.

North Carolina Gun Ownership FAQs

Source:  North Carolina Rifle and Pistol Association

Note: This information is provided as a courtesy to the general public. It represents data available to us, and is to the best of our knowledge correct. This is NOT legal advice, and we expressly disclaim any liability for the accuracy of this information. Use at your own risk. NCRPA recommends that you consult a qualified NC attorney if you have questions or concerns.

For Questions about Concealed Carry in North Carolina, see our Concealed Carry FAQ page.

Q: I have just moved to NC from another State. Do I have to register my guns with the Sheriff or the NC State Government?

A: There is no NC state law that requires you to register your firearms, or notify any public official. One county in NC requires its residents to register handguns – Durham County. This power was granted to Durham County by the State Legislature. No other counties or localities are permitted to require registration.

With the sole exception of Durham County, if you are a law-abiding citizen who lives in North Carolina you are entitled to possess the firearms you currently own without any hassle or red tape. Some county sheriffs, inundated with inquiries from people who move to NC from more restrictive areas where registration or ownership permits are required by law, have instituted voluntary notification procedures. In other words, if you have a burning desire to tell a public official about your private possessions, in some counties they will take your information and store it in a computer database. NCRPA recommends that you refrain from doing this – it’s none of their business.

Q: I have just moved to NC from another State, and I brought my gun(s) with me. Do I need to get an ownership permit?

A: No permit or other legal document is necessary to legally possess a rifle, shotgun or handgun in North Carolina as long as the firearm is not capable of fully automatic fire. In other words, as long as the firearm is not capable of machine-gun-type fire (multiple bullets fired each time you pull the trigger = machine gun, vs. one bullet fired each time you pull the trigger = non-machine gun), it is legal in NC if you are not a convicted felon. If you ARE a convicted felon, per Federal law you may not possess a firearm of any kind. If any of the firearms are capable of fully automatic fire, it is illegal to own and penalties are severe.

Q: Is it legal for a private citizen to own a machine gun in North Carolina?

A: Per the North Carolina Attorney General’s interpretation of relevant State law, the answer is clearly and unequivocally NO.

This position covered individual private citizens. Apparently it did not apply to businesses and trusts where NFA (National Firearms Act of 1934) weapons are controlled by Federal law and regulation covering permits obtained and taxes paid. The AG’s position is also open to reinterpretation by subsequent AGs and their staffs.

Q: What are the relevant laws regarding Assault Rifles in North Carolina?

A: Assault rifles (the real ones) are select-fire battle rifles available only to military and law enforcement. “Select-fire” means that they can be switched between semi-automatic mode (one shot per trigger pull) and full-automatic (machine gun) or “burst” mode (multiple shots per trigger pull). They are considered to be machine guns by law and are thus illegal for private citizens to own in NC except as regulated by Federal law since 1934.

Is that the type of rifle to which you are referring? Or do you mean the non-select-fire cosmetic look-alikes, the so-called “assault weapons?” If so, we were fortunate enough to be able to make the NC legislature understand that so-called “assault weapons” are no different from any other non-select-fire gun, except in appearance. Because of their understanding, there are no state-specific laws governing “assault weapons.” There are Federal laws, of course, and there are some local ordinances in Durham and Chapel Hill. The local ordinances were invalidated by a state-wide preemption law, but Durham and Chapel Hill still keep their ordinances on the books to “make a statement.”

Q: Isn’t a semi-automatic gun a machine gun? I heard someone on TV call a semi-automatic gun a “spray-fire” gun. That sounds like a machine gun.

A: “Semi-automatic” means the gun uses the energy of a fired cartridge to load the next cartridge. A better term for semi-automatic is “autoloader” or self-loader.” An autoloader will fire only one bullet each time the trigger is pulled. When the bullet is fired the mechanism will then automatically load the next cartridge, but will not fire it until the trigger is pulled again. A machine gun (full-automatic) also automatically loads the next cartridge when one is fired; the difference is that a machine gun will continue to automatically fire bullets as long as the trigger is held in a pulled position.

“Spray-fire” is not a technical term. It is a made-up phrase created by anti-gun organizations to frighten people who are ignorant of how guns work. The anti-gun organizations use this made up term to refer to semi-automatic firearms. It conjures up the image of a machine gun, which makes it easier for the anti-gun organizations to gain support for bans and restrictions on semi-automatic firearms.

Q: What are the rules regarding transportation of firearms in a motor vehicle?

A: Basic transportation requirements are:

Rifles & Shotguns: transport unloaded. Locked in trunk, or locked in gun rack, or locked in a carrying case if you don’t have a trunk. The best place for them is locked in the trunk or in a locked carrying case.

Handguns: if you have a concealed handgun license, you can transport concealed. Otherwise, it is permissible to transport loaded in plain view (such as on the seat with nothing covering it), as long as you aren’t in an area where possession or display is banned (and there are a LOT of those). If you don’t want to deal with hassles or be caught inadvertently transporting in a prohibited area, unloaded and locked in the trunk is the safest.

Q: I want to buy a handgun from a friend. Do I need to get any sort of permit to buy it?

A: Yes. All handgun transfers in North Carolina, whether through a dealer or via private sale, or presented as a gift, require that the intended recipient of the handgun obtain a Pistol Purchase Permit from his/her local Sheriff. You must go to your Sheriff, apply for a Pistol Purchase Permit (one per handgun you wish to purchase), and pay a $5 fee. When you take possession of the handgun you must present the Permit to the seller, who is required to retain it forever. If a Pistol Purchase Permit is not presented, both the buyer and the seller can be convicted of a Class I Misdemeanor.

As of 8/10/04 a new law was enacted, which permits someone with a valid North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permit to purchase a pistol without the need to obtain a Pistol Purchase Permit.

Q: You said that I have to get a Pistol Purchase Permit to receive a handgun as a gift. My father wants to give me a handgun for my 21st birthday. Do I really have to get a permit for a birthday gift?

A: Yes. NC law makes no distinction between purchases or gifts, and makes no distinction between strangers or relatives when it comes to transfer of a handgun. You must go through the legal process in order to obtain a handgun in North Carolina. There are no exceptions, except for Concealed Handgun Permit holders.

Q: What is the deal with this Pistol Purchase Permit law? I moved from one NC county to another and found that the Sheriffs of each county have vastly different requirements for getting Permits. Isn’t this covered by State law?

A: The Pistol Purchase Permit law was passed in 1919, and is a classic piece of Jim Crow-era legislation (Jim Crow History). The recognition of civil rights for blacks and other minorities meant that the Constitution applied to minorities. This meant that blacks and other minorities could exercise their natural right to self-defense, with the full support of the 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution and Article I, Sec. 30 of the North Carolina Constitution. This did not sit well with the Ku Klux Klan (which for many years was headquartered in Raleigh, just down the street from the Legislature) and other racist groups and influential individuals. The racist members of the State Legislature knew they could not overtly prevent minorities from purchasing handguns for protection, so the seemingly innocent Pistol Purchase Permit law was passed. This law allowed local Sheriffs and government officials to discriminate with impunity at the local level.

Even today, the Pistol Purchase Permit law is implemented in an arbitrary and capricious fashion by 100 individual County Sheriffs. Some Sheriffs do little more than collect the fees and hand out permits to the law-abiding, because more than that is not necessary. Others implement ridiculous, intrusive requirements that either discriminate on a wholesale basis or are selectively applied so that discrimination can be more personalized.

With the advent of the National Instant Check System (NICS) there is no public safety reason why the Pistol Purchase Permit system needs to continue. The Jim Crow era is over, and the laws of that era need to be eliminated. Most people agree with that in principle, but for some reason when it comes to guns a significant number of people seem to think that discrimination and arbitrary requirements are a good thing. This is something NCRPA totally disagrees with.

We have been trying for 10 years to get the Pistol Purchase Permit system completely eliminated. Apparently when it comes to gun control a lot of people think Jim Crow is still a good idea.

Note: This information is provided as a courtesy to the general public. It represents data available to us, and is to the best of our knowledge correct. This is NOT legal advice, and we expressly disclaim any liability for the accuracy of this information. Use at your own risk. NCRPA recommends that you consult a qualified NC attorney if you have questions or concerns.


North Carolina Conceal Carry FAQs

Source: North Carolina Rifle and Pistol Association
Note: This information is provided as a courtesy to the general public. It represents data available to us, and is to the best of our knowledge correct. This is NOT legal advice, and we expressly disclaim any liability for the accuracy of this information. Use at your own risk. NCRPA recommends that you consult a qualified NC attorney if you have questions or concerns.

Q: I am a law-abiding resident of North Carolina. How do I obtain a Concealed Handgun Permit?

A: Like other gun-related permits, the Concealed Handgun Permit is available through your County Sheriff’s office. Contact the Sheriff’s office in your county to receive additional information or begin the application process. You can also peruse detailed information on the NC Department of Justice website, accessible through the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Page.

Q: I live in a different State, and have a permit/license to carry issued by my State. Can I legally carry concealed in NC?

A: Probably. As of March, 2012, reciprocity legislation in NC allows recognition of all valid concealed carry handgun permits issued by other states. If your State of residence issues CCH permits and you hold one, you can legally carry in NC.

Check Concealed Carry Reciprocity Page for more information.

NOTE: Reciprocity from state to state generally requires an out-of-state permit holder to know and abide by the details of CCH in the state where they are actually carrying concealed.

Q: I visit NC frequently/have a vacation home in NC/will be stationed in NC/will stay temporarily in NC on business, but my permanent residence is in another State. Can I apply for a NC Concealed Handgun permit?

A: No. NC does not issue permits to non-permanent residents. In order to obtain a permit you must establish permanent residency in NC.

Q: Can I carry a gun in NC without having a Concealed Handgun permit?

A: This is dependent on many factors. On private property where you have permission of the owner – Yes. In rural areas where open carry is permitted – Yes. In cities and towns where a Display Ban is in effect – No.

Q: Is storing a gun under the seat of my car or in a bag in the back seat considered Concealed Carry?

A: Yes.

Q: Is storing a gun on the seat cushion of my car with a coat laid over it considered Concealed Carry?

A: Yes.

Q: Is storing a gun in the glovebox of my car considered Concealed Carry?

A: Yes.

Q: What if the glovebox is locked?

A: NC law defines concealed carry as “on or about the person,” and the courts have construed this to also mean weapons that are stored within easy access. Does a locked glovebox prevent “easy access?” This interpretation will be up to law enforcement, and ultimately the Judge.

Q: I don’t want to bother with a Concealed Handgun permit, but I want to carry a gun in my car. Is this legal?

A: Maybe. If the gun is in plain view (such as on the seat, with nothing covering it), most law enforcement personnel would not consider it concealed. There are lots of places and areas in NC where a non-concealed firearm is not permitted though, and there may be law enforcement personnel who take a different view of what constitutes “concealed.”

Q: Does a NC Concealed Handgun Permit allow me to carry any other weapon, such as a knife, concealed? Is there a Permit available in NC that will allow me to carry a concealed weapon other than a handgun?

A: No. The Concealed Handgun law was written specifically to permit the carrying of concealed Handguns. Carrying of other concealed weapons is illegal, and there is no permit available for other weapons types.

Q: I have been arrested for illegal concealed carry, and my gun was confiscated. How do I get it back?

A: NC law says that if you are convicted of any firearms offense, your confiscated firearm cannot be returned to you. It will either be turned over to a local law enforcement department for their use or (most likely) destroyed. If you have been arrested for illegal concealed carry, you should immediately consult with an attorney knowledgeable in NC criminal law.

Q: My grandmother has always carried a small pistol in her purse for personal protection. She does not have a permit. Could she get in trouble for this? It’s just a small ladies’ gun.

A: For many, many years it has been common practice to ignore concealed carry laws in NC, and many police officers and judges looked the other way as long as the person was otherwise law-abiding. This is no longer true. The penalties for illegal concealed carry have been increased to a serious misdemeanor for the first offense, and a felony for the second offense. Law enforcement personnel actively look for weapons during roadblocks and routine traffic stops. Schools and municipal buildings may have metal detectors installed. Concealed carry without a permit is illegal and unwise. Tell your grandmother she should either get a permit or discontinue carrying her gun. It doesn’t matter how big or small the gun is, it’s still a firearm.

Q: I don’t want to get a Concealed Handgun Permit; I just want to carry a gun openly in a holster. Is this legal?

A: In North Carolina there is no State law specifically prohibiting the open carry of firearms. Under the theory that if it isn’t specifically prohibited it’s not illegal, open carry is possible. There are some glaring exceptions to this. They are:

Private property owners and businesses can post “no guns.”
Firearms are strictly prohibited on state-owned property, except rest areas and state lands where hunting is permitted.
Local governments can (and do) enact prohibitions against “display of firearms” in cities and/or specific areas within cities or counties, which means they can’t be visible. Under this statute there is absolutely no requirement for the city or county to post notice of the display ban.
Local governments can (and do) enact firearms bans on local government property and in parks and recreational areas.
Any federally-owned property or federally-regulated property like banks and Post Offices is of course a prohibited area.
Much of the Outer Banks is “National Seashore,” and firearms are prohibited in those areas.

So in theory that leaves everywhere else in the state – except for one more thing. There is a common-law offense in NC called “going armed to the terror of the people.” Basically what this means is that if someone sees you carrying a firearm and calls the police to report “person with a gun,” you can be charged with this offense. It’s not often used in rural areas, but has been used in populated areas. If you are an out-of-state visitor who is not here lawfully hunting or engaged in some overt firearms-related event such as a competition, it will be hard to talk your way out of it.

Q: So is open carry legal in NC?

A: In theory, yes. In practice, maybe. It seems to us like a very good way to get arrested.

Q: Is my NC Concealed Handgun Permit valid in any other State?

A: Possibly. North Carolina has a reciprocity law, meaning that NC honors other State’s permits like it honors out-of-State driver licenses, as long as the other State will honor NC’s permit.

This information is not certain, and can change. Before carrying a concealed handgun in any State it is wise to check with the State’s Attorney General for clarification. Also, it has been the experience of some of our members that local law enforcement personnel may not be aware of laws allowing out-of-state permit holders to carry concealed. It would be prudent to carry a copy of the individual State Statute that recognizes your NC permit; however, even that may not be protection against harassment or arrest.

As stated previously, you should refer to the Concealed Carry Reciprocity page for more info.

Note: This information is provided as a courtesy to the general public. It represents data available to us, and is to the best of our knowledge correct. This is NOT legal advice, and we expressly disclaim any liability for the accuracy of this information. Use at your own risk. NCRPA recommends that you consult a qualified NC attorney if you have questions or concerns.