How to Obtain a Gun License in North Carolina

Concealed 9 mm Pistol
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In the state of North Carolina, gun permits are typically obtained from the local sheriff’s office. An individual should submit the permit application to the county sheriff in the area in which they reside. They can begin the application process online, but will be required to go to the sheriff’s office for an in-person appointment at a later date.

Understanding Pistol Purchase Permits

A Pistol Purchase Permit allows an individual to purchase a single handgun – a gun that can be fired with one hand such as a pistol. A county may limit the number of purchase permits an individual can buy with a single application.

For example, the Brunswick County Sheriff allows an individual to purchase a maximum of three permits per application. A pistol purchase permit is valid for five years from the date it is issued.

A county may require an applicant for a Pistol Purchase Permit to:

  • Be a citizen, naturalized citizen or resident alien.
  • Be 18 years of age or older.
  • Be a resident of the county for a minimum of 30 days.
  • Have a valid North Carolina driver’s license or identification card.
  • Sign a release of court orders concerning mental health and capacity.

It may take up to 30 business days for a Pistol Purchase Permit application to be processed. If the completed application is approved, the sheriff’s office will contact the individual to schedule an appointment to pick up the permit.

Understanding Concealed Carry Permits

A concealed carry permit, also known as a concealed handgun permit (CHP), allows a person in North Carolina to carry a handgun on their person, whether openly or concealed. It usually takes between 45 and 90 days to process a CHP application. A county may require the application to be signed by a notary public or sheriff’s office personnel.

The county may require that an applicant submit various documents in the application process, including:

  • Address attachment.
  • Application for the concealed handgun permit.
  • Mental health records authorization of release.
  • CHP mental health affidavit.

Handgun Permit Application Fees

The fee for a CHP varies by county. For example, in Durham County, the fee is $90; in Forsyth County, the fee is $95. This includes the notary fee and fingerprinting fee. A permit is typically valid for five years. An applicant can renew an existing permit up to 90 days before its expiration date. If they fail to renew an existing permit before it expires, they must get a new firearms safety certificate.

Additional County Requirements

A county may require an applicant for a CHP to be 21 years of age or older and further require that the applicant provide:

  • Current and valid ID in the form of a North Carolina driver’s license or identification card with their address in the county.
  • List of previous addresses where they have lived for the past 20 years or until the age of 18, starting with their most recent address.
  • Original certificate showing completion of an approved North Carolina concealed handgun training course. Sworn law enforcement officers and armed security personnel may exempt the CHP class requirement. Applicant should provide a copy of their most recent qualification scores signed by either their range officer or a direct supervisor. A certificate may not be required for a renewal.
  • Complete set of legible fingerprints taken at the time of application.

Rules for CHP Holders

North Carolina General Statutes Section 14-415.11 provides that a person with a CHP must carry the permit, together with valid ID, whenever they carry a concealed handgun.

The person must disclose that they hold a valid permit and are carrying a concealed handgun when approached or addressed by the officer. They are required to display both the permit and proper identification upon the request of the law enforcement officer.

Places That Do Not Allow Concealed Weapons

A CHP holder may not carry a concealed weapon in any:

  • Law enforcement or correctional facility.
  • Building housing only state or federal offices.
  • Office of the state or federal government that is not located in a building exclusively occupied by the state or federal government.
  • Private premises where notice that carrying a concealed handgun is prohibited by the posting of a conspicuous notice or statement by the person in legal possession or control of the premises.

A person with a CHP may carry a concealed handgun on the grounds or waterway of a park within the state parks system.

Concealed Weapons and Alcohol or Controlled Substances

It is unlawful for a person with or without a permit to carry a concealed weapon while consuming alcohol or at any time the person has alcohol or a controlled substance remaining in their body.

The exception to this rule is if the controlled substance in the person’s blood was lawfully obtained and ingested in therapeutically appropriate amounts or if the person is on their own property.

It is lawful for a person to carry any firearm openly or carry a concealed handgun with a CHP at any state-owned rest area or rest stop along the highways and at any state-owned hunting and fishing reservation.

Reciprocity for CHP

A CHP allows the holder to carry a concealed handgun anywhere in North Carolina when permitted by law. Most states, including Georgia and South Carolina, honor a CHP issued in North Carolina. North Carolina automatically recognizes a CHP issued in any of the 50 states.

Guns That Don’t Require Permits

An individual does not need to submit applications to purchase or carry a long gun such as a rifle or shotgun. They will be required to present their driver’s license or identification card and complete a federal background check to purchase this type of gun. A person does not need to register ownership of a long gun with the state or their county.

Hunting and Firearms

A person may lawfully carry a firearm on state-owned game lands and on all other lands unless prohibited by the landowner. They may also carry a concealed handgun if they have a current and valid CHP. A person may not hunt with any firearm unless the firearm is authorized as a lawful method of take for that open season.

Concealed carry is prohibited on exempted game lands, including Buckhorn, Harris, Sutton Lake, May, Hyco, Lee, Chatham, Pee Dee area north of U.S. 74, Butner-Falls, Jordan, Vance, Kerr Scott and Wayne Bailey-Caswell area north of U.S. 158 and east of N.C. 119. A hunter may use a .22 caliber rimfire pistol or a handgun otherwise legal for that hunting season to dispatch a wounded big game animal.