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North Carolina Gun Laws Explained

In general, North Carolina is a gun-friendly state. Both the federal and North Carolina constitutions protect your right to bear arms. However, there are restrictions on who may carry a gun and where. As a responsible gun owner, learn below about the basics of open and concealed carry gun laws in North Carolina.

If you have been charged with gun carry violation, consult an NC criminal defense attorney to fight for your case.

Firearm Purchase in North Carolina

Do I need to register my guns?

No, the US nor the State of North Carolina does not require firearm registration. However, you must follow the state’s gun laws to avoid charges.

Do I need a permit to buy a firearm?

Yes, if you are buying a handgun; no, for a long gun (rifle or shotgun). When purchasing a handgun in North Carolina, you need a current, valid NC state-issued form of identification and either an NC Pistol Purchase Permit or a North Carolina Concealed Carry Handgun permit. To purchase a long gun, you only need to show a current, valid NC state-issued form of identification and must pass a US government background check during the sale.

Can I buy a gun to give to someone else?

Yes, but with extreme caution. Federal or NC law does not prohibit you from gifting a firearm to a relative or friend that lives in your home state. However, it is a federal felony to transfer a firearm to someone you know or reasonably suspect who can’t legally own one.

Open Carry Gun Laws in North Carolina

Am I allowed to open carry?

Open carry is legal in North Carolina without a permit, if you can legally own a firearm. You must be at least 18 years old with no felony convictions. The state places no limits on weapon caliber size or magazine capacity.

Where can I open carry?

Many places allow for open carry (i.e. roadside rest areas), but counties may regulate the display of firearms on public property and designate Off-Limit areas (i.e. schools and universities, state and federal parks, organized sporting events). In addition, you may not open carry on private property or businesses that post “No Weapons” signs.

Can I open carry in vehicles?

Yes, if the weapon is not concealed—not readily seen or accessible—and visible. This means the handgun must be openly displayed or in a locked glove box, locked console, or in the trunk. It cannot be under the front seat or in an unlocked glove box or console.

Can I open carry in restaurants?

Yes, if the restaurant is not posted with a “No Weapons” sign and doesn’t sell alcohol.

NC Concealed Carry Permit Laws

Can I carry a concealed firearm?

Concealed carry of handguns only is legal with a license/permit in North Carolina. As a “shall issue” state, the local sheriff’s office is required to issue concealed handgun permits to applicants who meet the basic state law requirements, which include:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Complete a minimum eight-hour training course
  • File the application in the county of residence
  • Lived in North Carolina for at least 30 days
  • Be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien
  • Not have a mental or physical disability that prevents safe handling of a firearm
  • Not have been convicted of a felony or other specific crimes within three years prior to the application date

Where can I carry a concealed gun in North Carolina?

Concealed carry is allowed in state parks, state and national forests, roadside rest areas, vehicles, and all areas of the state not listed as off-limits. With the proper permits, some no-carry locations are an exception.

Where am I prohibited from carrying a concealed gun in North Carolina?

Concealed carry is off-limits in law enforcement or correctional facilities, at protests or demonstrations, on any private property that prohibits concealed handguns and anywhere guns are prohibited under federal law.

Which places are exceptions to the off-limits list?

Unless you have a permit and keep your gun locked in a container in your car, you may not carry a concealed gun on school property or school-sanctioned events; at a parade or funeral procession; or in state or federal buildings, courthouses and other state property.

Can I carry a concealed handgun into restaurants and bars in NC?

Yes, but with a few caveats. Restaurant owners can still enforce a “No Weapons” sign that prohibits concealed-gun carriers from entering, even with a permit. Plus, it is still illegal to drink alcohol or be under the influence of any controlled substance while carrying a gun in the state, regardless of a person’s permit.

If I am stopped by law enforcement, do I have to tell the officer I have a gun?

Yes, North Carolina gun laws require you to inform the officer you have a firearm when approaching on official business. You must carry your permit at all times while in possession of a concealed handgun.

Facing Gun Carry Violations in North Carolina?

It is illegal to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, or with a permit in prohibited areas. If you’ve been charged with a gun carry violation, discuss your options with a criminal defense lawyer in North Carolina. At Manning Law, our experienced attorneys can help protect your second amendment rights. Contact us today to discuss your case!