Legally obtaining a handgun in North Carolina

By: Bellonora McCallum - Legal Corner

Last week in the Legal Corner, we discussed the rights we have to bear arms. This week, let’s discuss the proper procedure for obtaining a weapon legally, and some of the legal consequences for violating North Carolina firearm statutes.

North Carolina has established certain regulations and procedures for North Carolina residents to follow before purchasing and carrying a firearm. In order for a North Carolina resident to purchase a handgun, he or she must first comply with the pistol permit laws and provide a valid permit to purchase a handgun or valid North Carolina-issued concealed carry permit to the seller.

In order to obtain a North Carolina pistol purchase permit, you must file the appropriate application and paperwork with the local sheriff of the county in which you reside along with a fee. The sheriff’s office will perform a detailed criminal background check and could have up to 45 days to issue you a license or deny your application. You must pick up your permit in person from the sheriff’s office in the county in which you applied.

A North Carolina resident mat not be eligible to apply for a pistol purchase permit for some of the following reasons: if currently under criminal indictment, if he or she has been convicted of a felony in any state, subject to a domestic violence protective order, if he or she has been dishonorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces, or if the person has been found incompetent or has been committed into any mental intuition. Additionally, the applicant must currently reside in the state of North Carolina and meet any additional requirements including being the appropriate age.

Once a permit has been legally issued, it is valid for up to five years. Once a legal permit has been issued, North Carolina residents are allowed to purchase handguns from a federally licensed dealer or from private individuals. However, both the buyer and seller are required to possess a valid license or permit.

You will need a permit for each firearm you intend to purchase. In cases where an individual inherits a handgun from the deceased, he or she is still required to obtain a license or permit before having the weapon in their possession.

Moreover, even when a handgun has been legally purchased with a permit, there are certain places handguns are not allowed. For example, in North Carolina, residents who are not considered law enforcement are not allowed to carry weapons to some of the following places: public or private schools and universities, state government buildings, law enforcement or correctional facilities or at any public events.

When a person does not obtain a license or permit prior to purchasing or selling a handgun he or she could be charged and ultimately convicted of a Class 2 misdemeanor. If it is determined or proven that the handgun is considered an “antique firearm,” the person could be exempt from prosecution. However, North Carolina has established strict guidelines in plain language that will assist in determining if the firearm is actually an antique.

Please remember that this information is only meant to inform our readers. This article does not include all of the detailed laws and regulations related to obtaining a license or permit.

Check with your local sheriff’s office to find out the specific requirements for your county. If you have any additional questions about the process and requirements for obtaining a pistol permit, please consult your local law enforcement agency. As always: Be informed. Be prepared.

Bellonora McCallum is an attorney at the McCallum Law Firm, PLLC, in Rockingham. Reach her at 910-730-4064 or visit

Bellonora McCallum

Legal Corner