North Carolina Gun Laws

North Carolina gun laws are relatively relaxed compared to certain states in the United States. This gun-friendly state has both federal and North Carolina constitutions to protect your rights to bear arms.

Still, the state does have restrictions on who may carry a gun and where. Our article today discusses important information and the basics of Nort Carolina Gun Laws.

Summary of North Carolina Gun Laws in 2022

North Carolina is a shall-issue state where concealed carry handgun permits are issued at county level by the local sheriff’s office. The state requires gun owners to get a purchase permit or concealed carry permit when purchasing a handgun The state does not have a firearms registry and only residents are allowed to purchase handguns.

North Carolina permits open carry of firearms without a permit for residents that are 18 years old and above. However, certain counties may regulate the display of firearms on public roads, sidewalks, alleys, or other public property.

While concealed carry is legal, a Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) is required for residents and non-residents will require to have any valid license of permit. North Carolina’s CHPs are issued to residents and members of military permanently posted in the state.

In order to apply for the permit, the applicant must be at least 21 years old and have completed a firearms training course approved by the state.

North Carolina is a Castle Doctrine state and adopts a “stand your ground” statute where a person is justified to use deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat in any place that he or she has the lawful right to be if he or she reasonably believes such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to themselves or another.

Use of Force

A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend him/herself or another against another’s imminent use of unlawful force.

Use of Deadly Force

The use of deadly force is justified if the person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to him/herself or another.

The lawful occupant of a home, motor vehicle, or workplace is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent death or serious bodily harm to him/herself or another when using defensive force that may cause death or serious bodily harm to another if:

  • The person against whom the defensive force was used in the process of unlawful and forceful entry to a home, motor vehicle, or workplace, or if the person had removed or was attempting to remove another against the person’s will from the home, motor vehicle, or workplace.
  • The person who used defensive force knew or reasonably believed that an unlawful and forcible entry or act was occurring.

Immunity from Liability

Justified use of force that’s intended or likely to cause death or bodily injury is immune from civil or criminal liability or the wrongful death of a person against whom such force was used on.

Basics of North Carolina Open Carry Gun Laws

Are gun owners allowed to openly carry handguns?

Yes, residents of North Carolina who can legally own a firearm are allowed to open carry a gun without a permit. The North Carolina gun laws also do not have any limits on weapon caliber size or magazine capacity.

Where is open carry allowed?

Many places in North Carolina allow open carry, but certain counties may regulate the display of firearms on public property and designate Off-Limit areas such as schools, universities, state and federal parks, as well as organized sporting events.

In addition, gun owners are also not allowed to carry firearms to private property or business that has a “No Weapons” sign displayed.

North Carolina Gun Laws on Concealed Handgun License

North Carolina allows concealed carry handguns for those with a valid concealed carry permit. North Carolina is a ”shall issue” state where the local sheriff’s office is required to issue concealed carry permits to applicants who meet the basic state law requirements including:

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

Are there any off-limits areas where I can’t carry a concealed handgun?

Yes, North Carolina does have off-limit areas such as a school property or school-sanctioned events, at a parade or funeral procession, in state or federal buildings, courthouses and other state properties. Gun owners are not allowed to carry a firearm even with a valid concealed handgun permit.

Do I have to tell the law enforcement officers that I have a concealed handgun?

Yes, North Carolina has laws that require gun owners to inform the law enforcement agency that they have concealed handguns on them when approached on official business. In addition, the concealed carry permit must be in your possession at all times while you’re in possession of concealed handguns.

Buying Firearms

Do guns need to be registered?

No, residents of North Carolina do not need to get firearm registration when purchasing guns. However, you still need to follow the state’s gun laws to avoid penalty and charges.

Is a permit required to purchase a firearm?

Yes and no. A pistol purchase permit law states that a permit is required when buying a handgun but not for a rifle or shotgun.

Those looking to purchase a handgun in North Carolina require a current, valid NC state-issued form of identification and either an North Carolina Pistol Purchase Permit or a North Carolina Concealed Cary Handgun Permit.

Those who want to purchase a long gun only need to show a current, valid NC state issued form of identification and must pass a US government background check.

Can someone purchase a gun as a gift to someone else?

Yes, you may give the firearm to someone else but with extreme caution. Federal or North Carolina law does not prohibit gifting a firearm to a relative or friend living in your home state but it is a federal felony to transfer a firearm to someone that you know or reasonably suspect cannot legally own one.

Concealed Firearm Permit Information

The concealed firearm permit pursuant must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have completed an approved firearms training class (except members of the military who have been honorably discharged)
  • Be a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident alien
  • Be a North Carolina resident for 30 days prior to the application
  • Be a resident of the county which the applicant is filed.
  • Not be under indictment for a felony
  • Not have been adjudicated guilty of a felony unless the felony is an offense that pertains to antitrust violations, unfair trade practices, restraints of trade, or if the person’s firearm rights have been restored pursuant to state law.
  • Not be a fugitive from justice
  • Not suffer from physical or mental infirmity that prevents safe handling of a firearm.
  • Not have been unhonorably discharged from the Armed Forces.
  • Not be an unlawful user or addicted to marijuana, alcohol, depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or other controlled substance.
  • Not have been adjudicated guilty of one or more crimes of violence constituting a misdemeanor within 3 years from application.
  • Not have been adjudicated guilty for one or more crimes of violence constituting a misdemeanor for assault, battery, stalking, child abuse and domestic criminal trespass crimes.
  • Not have been adjudicated guilty of 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.
  • Not have been convicted of an impaired driving offense 3 years prior to application.
  • Not have had continued for or free on bond or personal recognizance pending trial, appeal, or sentencing for a disqualifying criminal offense.
  • Not adjudicated or administratively determined to be lacking mental capacity or mental illness.
  • Meet federal law requirements.

Fees: $90 (New), $75 (Renewals(

Validity: 5 Years

Processing Time: 45 days


North Carolina Valid Concealed Pistols Permit Application Process

Step 1: Complete an approved firearms training course.

Step 2: Download the application and fill it in.

Step 3: Take the application to your local sheriff’s office and prepare the following documents:

  • Original certificate of completion from a firearms course.
  • NC’s driver’s license or ID card and proof of residence.
  • Military personnel to bring 1380E form (active duty) or DD-214 form (discharged).
  • Naturalized citizens to bring Naturizalition Certificate or a valid U.S Passport.
  • U.S. citizens born outside of the USA must bring documentation from the Department of State
  • Lawful permanent resident alien must bring a valid U.S. Permanent Resident Card.

Step 4: Conduct fingerprinting process and sign a release authorizing disclosure to the sheriff of any records relating to your mental health.

Step 5: Wait for the notification on the application status.

North Carolina Concealed Carry Weapons Reciprocity

How does concealed carry weapons reciprocity work in North Carolina?

While North Carolina has their own concealed handgun permits, the state will also honour concealed handgun permits and licenses issued in another state. Not only that, but there are also 38 other states that will honor a North Carolina concealed weapons permit, 6 of which will only honor the residential permit.

Weapons Carry Locations in North Carolina

Despite the more relaxed gun law, the state still has areas that are off-limits to carrying concealed weapons.

Areas in NC where you can bear arms:

  • Bars and restaurants that serve alcohol unless posted.
  • In a vehicle with a permit. Those without a permit must have the handgun in a locked firearm rack, locked glove box, or in the truck where it’s not readily accessible. Openly displayed handgun is also allowed.
  • Roadside rest areas.
  • State/national parks, state/national forests, WMAs.
  • Places of worship without any signs prohibiting firearms.

Off-limit Areas in NC where you can’t bear arms:

  • Schools, public or private, all levels including universities. A gun is permitted for those with a valid permit and kept in a vehicle.
  • School buses, campuses, grounds, recreation areas, athletic fields, and other properties used or owned by an educational institution.
  • Any activity sponsored by a school.
  • 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 firearms are prohibited.
  • State Capitol Building, the Executive Mansion, the Western Residency of the Governor or on the grounds of any of these buildings. Guns locked in a vehicle are permitted.
  • Any posted municipal or county playground, athletic fields, swimming pool, or athletic facility.
  • State fairgrounds. Guns stored in a closed compartment in a vehicle are permitted.
  • Lands and waters at Falls Lake, Jordan Lake and Kerr Lake state recreation areas managed by state parks system but owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Any place alcohol beverages are consumed or if consuming or under influence of controlled substances or alcohol.
  • Any place that is prohibited by federal law.

Concealed Firearms Reciprocity with Other States

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida (handguns only)
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Other States’ Reciprocity With North Carolina

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Idaho (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
  • Montana (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
  • New Mexico
  • Ohio
  • South Dakota (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
  • Vermont (permitless carry, at least 18 years old)
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

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