Open and Concealed Gun Carry Laws in North Carolina

Learn about North Carolina’s permit requirements for carrying concealed guns, as well as the places where guns are off-limits.

Although the right to bear arms is protected under both the federal and North Carolina constitutions, that doesn’t mean all North Carolinians may carry a gun or may do so wherever they like. Most people may openly carry firearms wherever they aren't prohibited. But the state requires a permit for concealed carry, and some people are ineligible for a permit. This article explains those restrictions.

North Carolina’s Requirements for a Carrying Concealed Guns

It’s illegal in North Carolina to carry a concealed gun, unless:

  • it’s a handgun, and you have a valid concealed handgun permit
  • you’re on your own premises, or
  • you’re a law enforcement officer or other individual authorized to carry weapons as part of your official duties.

The state’s concealed-weapon prohibition also applies to other deadly weapons like stun guns.

In order to qualify for permit you must be at least 21, a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident, and a North Carolina resident (for at least 30 days). You must also have completed an approved firearms safety and training course. Even if you meet those basic qualifications, you won’t be able to get a permit if you:

  • have been indicted for or convicted of a felony (other than certain white-collar crimes)
  • have been convicted of certain violent misdemeanors, including domestic violence
  • are free on bond pending trial, appeal, or sentencing for a crime that would disqualify you from obtaining a permit
  • have been convicted of driving under the influence within the last three years
  • are illegally using or addicted to drugs or alcohol
  • are ineligible to possess a firearm under state or federal law
  • are a fugitive from justice
  • have been found by a court or government agency to be mentally ill or lacking in mental capacity
  • were discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces under less-than honorable conditions.

(N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-269, 14-415.11, 14-415.12 (2019).)

Places in North Carolina Where Carrying a Gun Is Illegal

Even if you have concealed-carry permit, North Carolina prohibits guns in certain places, including:

  • on school property (including public or private K-12 schools, colleges, or universities) or at school-sponsored events
  • in a law enforcement or correctional facility
  • in state or federal office buildings, in courthouses, or on certain other state property (unless you have a permit and keep your gun locked in a container in your car)
  • at a parade, funeral procession, picket line, or other demonstration (except for guns carried on a rack in a pickup truck at parades or funeral processions)
  • on any private property that prohibits concealed handguns, and
  • anywhere guns are prohibited under federal law.

In some other places, such as establishments where alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed, firearms are prohibited unless they’re handguns carried by people with concealed carry permits. However, even with a permit, it’s illegal to carry a concealed handgun away from your own property while you’re drinking alcohol or while you still have any alcohol or illegal drugs in your blood.

All of these prohibitions have exceptions for law enforcement officers and certain other authorized individuals. (N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-269.2, 14-269.3, 14-269.4, 14-277.2, 14-415.11 (2019).)

Illegal Possession of Guns

Certain people are also prohibited from buying or possessing any firearms under North Carolina weapons laws, including convicted felons and anyone subject to a current protective order (N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-269.8, 14-415.1 (2019)).

Penalties for Gun Carry Violations

Most of the gun-carry violations discussed in this article are felonies. It’s a misdemeanor to carry a concealed gun without a permit or to carry a weapon on certain state property or at a parade or demonstration. North Carolina uses a sentencing structure that takes the defendant’s criminal record into account, so penalties for these crimes will vary according to the facts of your case and your criminal history.

Look Out for Legal Changes

States can change their laws at any time, so it’s always a good idea to check the current statutes. You can find and read North Carolina’s statutes this search tool.

Getting Legal Help

The penalties for violating gun carry laws can be serious. 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.

Updated May 29, 2019

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