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North Carolina Gun Laws

North Carolina has very permissive gun laws, despite a few restrictive pieces of legislation. In the state constitution, North Carolina clearly guarantees the right to possess firearms within the context of a citizen militia. North Carolina is a ‘shall issue’ state for concealed carry permits. Although North Carolina does require licensing for citizens looking to obtain a firearm, lawfully transferring handguns and rifles in the state is a relatively straightforward procedure.

North Carolina Gun Laws at a Glance


Concealed Carry Premit Required Yes
Open Carry Premitted Yes
Waiting period before purchasing No
Lost and Stolen Firearm Reporting No
Firearms License Required for Purchasing Yes
Universal Background Check Yes for handguns/No for long guns
Firearm Registration Not required
Large Capacity Magazine Ban No

Firearm License Requirements


To purchase a handgun in North Carolina, a person must have either a purchasing permit or a concealed handgun permit. A permit to purchase a handgun is valid for five years, but it may only be used to purchase one handgun. North Carolina law states that these permits must be granted to anyone who does is not a prohibited person (see section below). The sheriff is required to verify that any potential permittee may legally possess a handgun. To do this, the sheriff must:

  • Access computerized criminal history records as maintained by the State Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Conduct a national criminal history records check
  • Conduct a check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)
  • Conduct a criminal history check through the Administrative Office of the Courts

Background Checks


North Carolina enforces universal background checks on handguns. In order to purchase a handgun, a person must obtain a permit to purchase a handgun or a concealed handgun permit. Both of these require background checks.

Transfers of long guns by unlicensed sellers are not subject to state background checks.

Gun Shows


North Carolina does not regulate gun shows.

Hardware and Ammunition Restrictions

Hardware Restrictions
Assault Weapons Not restricted
50 Caliber Rifles No restrictions.
Machine Guns Prohibited
Large Capacity Magazines Not restricted
Ammunition Teflon-coated bullets are prohibited.

Prohibited Persons


With very few exceptions, no person may possess a firearm if he or she has been convicted for (or acquitted of by reason of insanity):

  • Any felony in North Carolina (except those pertaining to antitrust, unfair trade practices, ore restraints of trade), unless the person has been pardoned or had his/her firearm rights legally restored.
  • Any violation punishable by more than one year of imprisonment
  • Misdemeanor assault by pointing a gun

North Carolina law states that no one may purchase a handgun without a permit to purchase a handgun. A person may not obtain such a permit if that person:

  • Is under an indictment for (or has been convicted of) a felony except those pertaining to antitrust, unfair trade practices, or restraints of trade, unless the person has been pardoned or had his/her firearm rights legally restored.
  • Is a fugitive
  • Is an unlawful user of (or addicted to) any narcotic drug including marijuana
  • Has been determined to be mentally incompetent or has been committed to a mental institution (unless the person has had his/her firearm rights legally restored.)
  • Is unlawfully present in the United States
  • Has been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces of the United States
  • Has renounced his or her US Citizenship
  • Is subject to a court order that:
    • Was issued after a hearing of which the person received notice, and at which the person had an opportunity to participateRestrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of the intimate partner, or engaging in any other conduct that would place an intimate partner in fear of bodily injury to the partner or child
    • Restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of the intimate partner, or engaging in any other conduct that would place an intimate partner in fear of bodily injury to the partner or child
    • Includes a finding that the person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of the intimate partner or child, or by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the intimate partner or child

Prohibited Places

Location Restrictions Exceptions
Schools North Carolina law prohibits any person from carrying a handgun on any educational property or at any extracurricular activity sponsored by any school, college, or university. You may carry a firearm in a vehicle on school grounds with a concealed carry permit, but you may only unlock the vehicle’s door to let someone in or out.
Vehicles Open carry of a handgun or long gun permitted in a vehicle with no permit/license. None.

Concealed Carry Laws


Notify Officer Yes
“No Gun” Signs Enforced
In-Vehicle Carry Permitted
Restaurant Carry Permitted
State Park Carry Permitted
While Hunting Permitted

Obtaining a Concealed Carry License

North Carolina is a “shall issue” state. The local sheriff must issue a concealed handgun permit if an applicant meets certain requirements.

Requirements for a Concealed Carry License
  • A concealed carry license must be issued to any applicant who:
  • Is a citizen of the United States or has been admitted for permanent residence
  • Is 21 years of age or older
  • Does not suffer from any physical or mental conditions that prevent the safe handling of a handgun
  • Has completed an approved firearms safety course that involves the actual firing of handguns and instruction in the state laws governing the use of deadly force and the carrying of a concealed handgun
  • A permit will be denied to any applicant who:
  • Is ineligible to own, possess, or receive a firearm under the provisions of State or federal law.
  • Is under indictment or against whom a finding of probable cause exists for a felony.
  • Has been adjudicated guilty in any court of a felony, unless: (i) the felony is an offense that pertains to antitrust violations, unfair trade practices, or restraints of trade, or (ii) the person's firearms rights have been restored
  • Is a fugitive from justice
  • Is an unlawful user of, or addicted to marijuana, alcohol, or any depressant, stimulant, or narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance
  • Is currently, or has been previously adjudicated by a court or administratively determined by a governmental agency whose decisions are subject to judicial review to be, lacking mental capacity or mentally ill. Receipt of previous consultative services or outpatient treatment alone shall not disqualify an applicant under this subdivision.
  • Is or has been discharged from the Armed Forces of the United States under conditions other than honorable.
  • Is or has been adjudicated guilty of or received a prayer for judgment continued or suspended sentence for one or more crimes of violence constituting a misdemeanor within three years prior to the date on which the application is submitted
  • Is or has been adjudicated guilty of or received a prayer for judgment continued or suspended sentence for one or more crimes of violence constituting a misdemeanor Is prohibited from possessing a firearm as a result of a conviction of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
  • Has been adjudicated guilty of or received a prayer for judgment continued or suspended sentence for one or more crimes involving an assault or a threat to assault a law enforcement officer, probation or parole officer, person employed at a State or local detention facility, firefighter, emergency medical technician, medical responder, or emergency department personnel.
  • Has had entry of a prayer for judgment continued for a criminal offense which would disqualify the person from obtaining a concealed handgun permit.
  • Is free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal, or sentencing for a crime which would disqualify him from obtaining a concealed handgun permit.
  • Has been convicted of an impaired driving offense within three years prior to the date on which the application is submitted.

Concealed Carry Firearms Training

To receive a concealed carry license in North Carolina, an applicant must complete a training course involving the firing of handguns and instruction in the laws governing the carrying of a concealed handgun and the use of deadly force.

An approved course must be any course that satisfies these requirements and is certified by:

  • The North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission
  • The National Rifle Association (NRA)
  • A law enforcement organization or firearms training school taught by instructors certified by the above two organizations

Concealed Carry Location Restrictions

Even with a valid concealed carry license, you may not carry a concealed weapon at any of the following locations:

  • Schools, public or private, all levels including universities and any activities sponsored by schools
  • School buses, campuses, grounds, recreation areas, athletic fields, and other property used or owned by an educational institution
  • Law enforcement offices, detention, and correctional facilities
  • State and federal buildings or offices of the state or federal government
  • Any private premises bearing a notice that carrying a concealed handgun is prohibited
  • State Capitol Building, the Executive Mansion, the Western Residence of the Governor, or on the grounds of any of these buildings
  • Any posted municipal or county playground, athletic field, swimming pool, or athletic facility
  • State fairgrounds (except a handgun in a closed container in the person's locked vehicle or in a locked container securely affixed to the person's vehicle)
  • Any place alcoholic beverages are consumed (except by the administrator of the premises or establishment), if posted
  • Any place while consuming or under the influence of controlled substances or alcohol
  • Any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law or state law or regulation.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is not to be construed as legal advice or acted upon as if it is legal advice: it is provided for informational and entertainment purposes only. While we strive to provide accurate, up-to-date content, we cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or currency of the information. Gun laws can change frequently, especially at the state and local levels. Application of gun laws can be unique to an individual’s situation. We recommend that each individual consult with a competent and qualified legal professional before purchasing, transporting, or using any firearm or firearm-related product.