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North Carolina Gun Control Laws

Although the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right of citizens to own and bear arms, most gun regulation happens at the state level. State laws vary widely in how they regulate firearms, often along political and ideological lines.

The following chart details the main provisions of North Carolina's gun control laws. See Details on State Gun Control Laws and the links below to learn more.

Relevant Statutes (Laws)

North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 14, Article 35, Sections 14-269 through 14-277.2

North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 14, Article 36a, Sections 14-288.8 through 288.20

  • Manufacture, assembly, possession, storage, transportation, sale, purchase, delivery, or acquisition of weapon of mass death and destruction - Section 14-288.8

North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 14, Article 52a, Sections 14-402 through 14-409

North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 14, Article 54a, Sections 14-415.1 through 14-415.4
  • Possession of firearms, etc., by felon prohibited - Section 14-415.1
  • Possession of a firearm or weapon of mass destruction by persons acquitted of certain crimes by reason of insanity - Section 14-415.3

North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 14, Article 54b, Sections 14-415.10 through 14-415.27

Illegal Arms

The following weapons are prohibited in North Carolina:
  • Machine guns, submachine guns, or other like weapons
  • Sawed-off shotguns
  • Sawed-off rifles
  • Silencers

Waiting Period

North Carolina does not require a waiting period to purchase a gun, but it does require a purchaser to obtain a permit to purchase a gun.

Who May Not Own

The following people are not allowed to own or possess a firearm in North Carolina:
  • Anyone who has been convicted of a felony
  • A person who has been acquitted by reason of insanity of possession of a firearm by a felon or assault by pointing a gun
  • A person who has been determined to lack capacity to proceed for possession of a firearm by a felon or assault by pointing a gun
  • A person subject to domestic violence order

License Required?

A permit to purchase a gun or a concealed handgun permit is required to purchase or transfer a pistol.

Concealed Carry License Required?

It is illegal to willfully and intentionally carry a concealed pistol or gun except on a person's own premises or when the weapon is a handgun and the person has a concealed handgun permit or is a military permittee. A person must carry the handgun permit and valid identification when carrying a concealed handgun.

Open Carried Allowed?

Open carry is allowed, and a permit is not required to open carry.

Eligibility for a Concealed Carry License

To be eligible for a concealed handgun permit, a person must:
  • Be a citizen of the United States or has been lawfully admitted for permanent residence, and has been a resident of the State 30 days or longer immediately preceding the filing of the application
  • Be 21 years of age or older
  • Not suffer from a physical or mental infirmity that prevents the safe handling of a handgun
  • Successfully complete an approved firearms safety and training course
  • Not be ineligible to own, possess, or receive a firearm under the provisions of North Carolina or federal law
  • Not be under indictment or have a finding of probable cause that the person committed a felony
  • Not have been adjudicated guilty in any court of a felony, except for antitrust violations, unfair trade practices, or restraints of trade
  • Not be a fugitive from justice
  • Not be an unlawful user of, or addicted to marijuana, alcohol, or other drugs
  • Not have been adjudicated to be lacking mental capacity or mentally ill
  • Not have been discharged from military under conditions other than honorable
  • Not have been adjudicated guilty of or received a prayer for judgment continued or suspended sentence for one or more crimes of violence constituting a misdemeanor
  • Not be prohibited from possessing a firearm as a result of a conviction of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
  • Not have 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, a person employed at a State or local detention facility, firefighter, emergency medical technician, medical responder, or emergency department personnel
  • Not have had entry of a prayer for judgment continued for a criminal offense which would disqualify the person from obtaining a concealed handgun permit
  • Not be free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal, or sentencing for a crime which would disqualify the person from obtaining a concealed handgun permit
  • Not have been convicted of an impaired driving offense within three years prior to the date on which the application is submitted

Machine Gun Laws

Owning or possessing a machine gun is illegal in North Carolina unless a person complies with federal law.

Penalties for Illegal Firearm Possession

The penalties for violating North Carolina's gun laws depend on the specific offense. The following list contains common offenses and their penalties:
  • Illegally carrying a concealed gun is a Class 2 misdemeanor for a first offense and is punishable by up to 60 days imprisonment
  • A second or subsequent offense for illegally carrying a concealed gun is a Class H felony punishable by 4 to 25 months imprisonment
  • Possessing a machine gun is a Class I felony punishable by 3 to 12 months imprisonment
  • Possessing a gun in violation of protective order is a Class H felony punishable by 4 to 25 months imprisonment
  • Possession of a gun by a convicted felon is a Class G felony punishable by 8 to 31 months imprisonment
  • Possessing a gun when prohibited by law is a Class H felony punishable by 4 to 25 months imprisonment

Penalties for Illegal Possession on or Near School Grounds

  • Illegally possessing a firearm on school property is a Class I felony punishable by 3 to 12 months imprisonment
  • Possessing a firearm on school property is a Class 1 misdemeanor if the offender is not a student or employee of the school and the firearm is not loaded, is in a motor vehicle, and is in a locked container or a locked firearm rack. A Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by up to 120 days imprisonment.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

North Carolina Gun Control Laws: Related Resources

Are You Facing a Gun Crimes Charge?

If you have been charged with a gun crime, you may want to contact a North Carolina criminal defense attorney. The Office of Indigent Services may be able to provide assistance if you cannot afford to hire a private attorney.

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