North Carolina has a rich history and diverse culture, but when it comes to gun laws, the state’s policies can be complex and confusing. While the right to bear arms is protected under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, individual states are free to create their own laws and regulations regarding the sale, purchase, ownership, and use of firearms.
In North Carolina, gun laws can vary depending on a range of factors, from the type of weapon to the location of use, and it is important for both residents and visitors to NC to understand these laws in order to ensure their safety and compliance with the law.
The team at Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler & Thomas, LLP wants to help you understand your rights, which is why our gun rights attorneys in Raleigh are providing an overview of state laws pertaining to the purchasing, carrying, and ownership of firearms.
Who Can Legally Own a Gun in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, anyone over the age of 18 can purchase and own a rifle or a shotgun and can purchase and own a handgun if they are over 21. Additionally, you may carry a gun but cannot purchase a gun in NC if you are not a legal resident of the state.
When it comes to being prohibited from possessing or carrying a handgun in North Carolina, restrictions apply if you:
- Are not an American citizen;
- Have a felony conviction, misdemeanor assault by pointing a gun, or domestic violence conviction;
- Have a domestic violence protective order against you;
- Are involved in a pending trial for a crime that would prohibit you from owning or carrying a gun;
- Have a dishonorable discharge from the military;
- Are determined a mental health risk by a court of law.
What Firearms Are Illegal In North Carolina?
When it comes to the regulation of guns and ammunition, North Carolina has minimal laws prohibiting these. However, certain guns and ammunition are prohibited except for when ATF guidelines are in place.
Specific examples of prohibited items include:
- Fully automatic firearms, such as a fully automatic AK-47 (Semi-automatic versions are legal);
- Machine guns and parts for converting firearms into machine guns;
- Short-barreled, or “sawed-off,” shotguns;
- Suppressors, including silencers.
More specifically to fully automatic weapons, NC General Statute 14-409 states, “It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to manufacture, sell, give away, dispose of, use, or possess machine guns, submachine guns, and other like weapons…” with the exception of:
- Banks, merchants, and recognized businesses shall first apply to the county sheriff for a permit to possess a weapon in order to defend the business;
- US Army members, when in the discharge of their official duties;
- Officers of NC (including county, city, or town officials) who are acting in the discharge of their official duties;
- Use or possession for approved scientific purposes;
- A resident of NC who owns a machine gun used in former wars;
Any other possession of fully automatic weapons in North Carolina is illegal.
Purchasing A Gun In North Carolina
Purchasing a gun in North Carolina can be a complicated process, requiring potential gun owners to navigate a range of legal and regulatory requirements set out by state law. In order to legally purchase a gun in North Carolina, individuals must meet certain requirements, such as age, residency, and criminal history checks. Additionally, North Carolina law has specific regulations on the types of firearms that can be sold and who is permitted to purchase them.
What Do You Need to Purchase a Firearm in NC?
To purchase a gun in North Carolina, there are several requirements that must be met:
- Age: The minimum age for purchasing a handgun is 21 years old. The minimum age for purchasing a long gun (such as a rifle or shotgun) is 18 years old.
- Residency: Individuals must be residents of North Carolina in order to purchase a gun in the state.
- Background check: Before purchasing a gun, individuals must undergo a background check, which is conducted by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The purpose of the background check is to prevent individuals with a criminal history, a history of mental illness, or other disqualifying factors from obtaining firearms with the added goal of reducing unnecessary gun violence.
- Identification: Buyers must provide a form of valid identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, to the licensed firearm dealer.
- Waiting period: North Carolina does not have a waiting period for purchasing firearms.
NC Does Not Require You To Register Your Gun
While it is paramount that you always follow the gun laws of the state, North Carolina gun laws do not require you to register your firearm.
NC Purchase Permit
When buying a handgun in North Carolina, you must possess a current and valid state-issued ID and one of the following 2 items:
- An NC Pistol Purchase Permit
- North Carolina Concealed Carry Handgun Permit
For a long gun purchase, you need a valid NC state-issued ID and are required to pass a federal government background check.
Laws Regarding Weapons Transfers
It is legal to transfer the possession of a firearm to a friend, family member, or even acquaintance in the state of North Carolina, however, it must be done so carefully and responsibly. If you believe that the person who will gain legal possession of or is being gifted your legally owned firearm is in any way a concern, you could find yourself in legal trouble. For instance, if you either suspect or know that the person you are transferring possession of your firearm to is not eligible to own a firearm, you can be charged with a felony, and face heavy fines or even jail time.
North Carolina Open Carry Laws
North Carolina state law allows the open carrying of firearms, but with some restrictions. Individuals who are legally permitted to own firearms may openly carry a handgun in public places, as long as they are not in certain prohibited locations, such as on school property, government buildings, and establishments that serve alcohol. Therefore, anyone who is over 18 and not prohibited from possessing a gun can legally openly carry.
What Are the Rules for Carrying a Gun in NC?
In addition to not being allowed to carry a firearm on school property, government property, and places that carry alcohol, individuals may not openly carry firearms in other public areas, such as anywhere within the state parks system, wildlife refuges, and national forests. Additionally, private property owners may choose to prohibit firearms on their premises, even if the firearms are legally carried. If you are unsure of any aspect of NC’s open carry laws, it’s best to contact a gun laws professional. The criminal defense attorneys at Kirk, Kirk Law can help.
Can I Open Carry in a Vehicle in NC?
You can open carry a firearm in a vehicle, but some restrictions do apply. For instance, the gun must be visible, not concealed, and readily seen and accessible. You may lock the firearm in the trunk of the vehicle or in the locked glove box, but you cannot have it hidden underneath your car’s seats, center console, or in an unlocked glove box.
Can I Open Carry in a Restaurant in NC?
As long as the restaurant is not an establishment that serves alcohol and it does not have a “no carry” sign alerting customers they cannot bring a gun on the premises, you can open carry there.
North Carolina Concealed Carry Permit Laws
Concealed carry in North Carolina is also legal, though there are more stipulations surrounding it. In North Carolina, individuals who meet certain requirements can apply for a permit to carry a concealed handgun.
Obtaining A Valid Concealed Handgun Permit
To be eligible for a concealed carry permit, the North Carolina general statute outlines that the following criteria must be met:
- The concealed handgun permittee must be at least 21 years of age, or 18 years of age if currently serving in the armed forces.
- The applicant must be a resident of North Carolina for at least 30 days prior to applying for the permit to carry a concealed gun.
- The applicant must not have any disqualifying criminal convictions, pending criminal charges, or any outstanding warrants.
- The applicant must not have any mental health conditions that would prevent them from safely handling a firearm.
- The applicant must complete a training course at a firearms training school approved by the North Carolina Justice Academy.
Where Are Concealed Handguns Prohibited in NC?
It’s important to note that even with a concealed weapons permit, there are certain locations where concealed carry is strictly prohibited. For instance school properties, government buildings like the state capitol building or county sheriff’s office, and establishments that serve alcohol like bars and certain restaurants do not admit patrons who are carrying concealed weapons, even if they possess a valid concealed carry permit.
Whether you have a concealed firearm permit or are legally allowed to carry a gun, there are certain places a firearm is not permitted, such as:
- Schools, school buses, and school-sponsored activities
- State and federal courthouses, correctional facilities, and many other government buildings.
- Picket lines and demonstrations;
- Private residences where notices are posted prohibiting openly carried guns, concealed guns, or all firearms.
It’s also important to note that local governments can prohibit open carry in certain publicly owned areas, including parks and recreation buildings.
Is it Legal to Conceal Carry in a Vehicle?
While you are allowed to conceal carry in a vehicle if you possess a concealed carry permit, if any unlicensed person has access to your vehicle where your gun is concealed, you can face legal ramifications. Concealing your gun in a car or truck, you may place it beneath the seats or in an unlocked glove box, but if an individual without a concealed carry permit is found to be driving and the gun is concealed, you could face felony charges.
Contact our experienced conceal carry gun rights attorneys if you have found yourself in a situation where an unlicensed driver was found in your vehicle with your concealed firearm.
Can I Carry a Concealed Handgun into Restaurants and Bars in NC?
While it is legal in the state of NC to conceal carry a firearm in a restaurant in NC if you hold a concealed carry permit, you must comply by law if the establishment has a “no weapons” sign. You cannot conceal carry in places that serve alcohol, so no a gun cannot be concealed in a North Carolina bar or alcohol-serving restaurant.
Carry While Using Alcohol or Controlled Substances?
No matter what permits you carry, it is absolutely illegal to operate or carry a firearm when you are under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.
Non-Resident Concealed Carry Permits
While North Carolina does not issue permits for concealed carry to non-residents, we do honor the permits for concealed firearm carrying issued from other states.
Speak to a Gun Rights Attorney Today About Getting Your Rights Restored
Because gun laws are often in the works of being revised or adapted if you are in need of having your gun rights restored, your first step should be to speak with a talented gun rights attorney today from Kirk, Kirk Law.
To schedule a consultation, reach out to us at [phone] or fill out the form below to get started.
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