North Carolina protects the right to bear arms under Section 30 of the state constitution, but this does not mean that everyone may carry a gun, or that you may always carry a gun wherever you like. While you may openly carry a weapon without a permit, North Carolina requires a concealed carry permit to carry a weapon concealed on (or near) you body or vehicle unless you are on your own premises. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-269.) For more information on permitting laws, see Gun Permit Laws in North Carolina.
The following sections explain who may not have a gun, and the circumstances or situations when carrying a gun is illegal.
People Who May Not Carry a Gun in North Carolina
The following individuals are prohibited from carrying a weapon (open or concealed) in North Carolina.
- people younger than 21 years old
- non-United States citizens
- people who have not resided in North Carolina for at least 30 days prior to the date of the application
- people ineligible to possess a firearm under federal law
- people under indictment for or convicted of a felony
- people convicted of certain violent crimes
- people free on bond pending trial, appeal, or sentencing for a crime that would disqualify that person from obtaining a concealed handgun permit
- people convicted of driving under the influence within three years prior to the date of the application
- fugitives from justice
- unlawful users or people addicted to drugs or alcohol
- people adjudicated as mentally ill
- people discharged from the United States armed forces under other than honorable conditions
(N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-415.12.)
Situations or Circumstances Where Carrying a Gun is Illegal
The following rules govern when you may not carry a gun in North Carolina. They do not apply to law enforcement or retired law enforcement officers.
- Unless you are on your own premises, you may not carry a concealed firearm without a concealed carry permit. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-269.)
- You may not carry a weapon onto a campus or other educational property. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-269.2.)
- You may not carry a weapon into establishments where alcoholic beverages are sold. This does not apply to owners of such an establishment, when in their own establishment; or people participating in an event, when the weapon is carried with the permission of the establishment’s owner or the organizer of the event. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-269.3.)
- You may not carry a weapon on certain state property or courthouses. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-269.4.)
- You may not carry a weapon at a parade, funeral procession, picket line, or other demonstration, except for guns carried on a rack in a pickup truck. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-277.2.)
- You may not carry a weapon during civil disorder, riot, or other disturbance involving three or more people. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-288.20.)
Penalties for Gun Carry Violations
It is illegal to carry a concealed pistol or gun in North Carolina without a concealed carry permit, unless you are on your own premises. A first offense is a class 2 misdemeanor, and second or subsequent offense is a class I felony. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-269.)
It is a class 1 misdemeanor to carry a weapon on certain state property, into a courthouse, or at a parade or demonstration. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-269.4 &14-277.2.)
It is a class I felony to carry a weapon onto school property. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-269.2.)
It is a class H felony to carry a weapon during a civil disorder. (N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 14-288.20.)
North Carolina uses a sentencing structure that takes the defendant’s criminal record into account, so penalties for the crimes listed above will vary according to the facts of your case and your criminal history. For additional information on North Carolina sentencing structure, visit the North Carolina court website.
Getting Legal Help
The penalties for violating gun carry laws are serious, and often include harsh fines and long prison sentences. If you have any questions about whether you are allowed to carry a gun in North Carolina, or if you are facing charges for a gun violation, consult a qualified criminal defense lawyer.