Understanding North Carolina Gun Laws

Watercolor of a Gun with Two Bullets - North Carolina Gun Laws Concept

Although North Carolinians have a right to bear arms under both the federal and state constitutions, there are various restrictions that are imposed and permits required to comply with North Carolina gun laws. But there is a considerable amount of confusion regarding where and when a gun can be carried, who can own a gun, and what kinds of guns are legal within the state. It’s crucial to be aware of the laws regarding gun ownership in the state to avoid facing criminal charges. Critically, a failure to adhere to North Carolina’s gun laws may lead to misdemeanor or felony charges that can result in a jail sentence and permanent criminal record upon conviction.

When is a Gun Permit Needed?

North Carolina Gun Law states that while it is a crime to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, open carry is allowed in most locations — unless restricted in certain areas by the county or on private property. You do not need a permit to open carry in North Carolina.

To purchase a handgun in North Carolina, you must present a valid state-issued form of identification and either a North Carolina-issued Concealed Carry Handgun permit or a handgun purchase permit. Applicants who are eligible for a concealed firearm permit under North Carolina gun law include those who meet the following criteria:

  • They are at least 21 years old
  • They have completed a minimum eight-hour training course
  • They must have lived in North Carolina for 30 days or more
  • They must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien
  • They must not have a mental or physical disability that would affect them from handling a firearm safely
  • They must not have been convicted of a felony or certain other crimes within three years before they applied for the permit

A permit is not required to purchase a shotgun or rifle in North Carolina. Machine guns and semi-automatic weapons are banned in the state.

When is Carrying a Gun Prohibited?

Even if you have obtained a concealed carry permit, it’s important to understand that North Carolina gun law prohibits concealed carry in certain places. For instance, concealed carry by anyone other than law enforcement or other authorized individuals is not permitted on school property, in a correctional facility, at parades, in government buildings, on private property — or anywhere guns are not allowed under federal law.

Penalties for Gun Carry Violations

The charges for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit under North Carolina gun law can vary from an infraction (punishable with a $100 fine) to a Class 1 misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances. Specifically, you may face charges for an infraction in the event you have a valid permit but don’t have it with you to show to the police officer. Otherwise, a Class 2 misdemeanor for illegally carrying a concealed gun can be punishable by 30 days to six months in jail. If it is your second offense, the charges can be raised to a Class 1 misdemeanor, which comes with a maximum one-year jail sentence.

Carrying a gun in a prohibited location without a permit — such as a courthouse, funeral, or parade — is also chargeable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. The charge for carrying a gun into a school zone is a Class I felony.

Other Gun-Related Crimes in North Carolina

There are a number of charges that can be brought in connection with gun crimes in North Carolina — and the penalties can be harsh. Assault with a deadly weapon is one of the most serious gun-related charges that can be brought against a defendant. A defendant can be convicted of this crime when the prosecution can prove that they assaulted another with a deadly weapon with the intention of killing them. In such cases, a defendant can be charged with a Class E felony. However, if the defendant caused serious injury to the victim, they can be charged with a Class C felony that comes with a sentence of 44 to 182 months in jail.

Another crime with which North Carolina gun owners should be aware is unlawful discharge of a firearm. North Carolina gun laws dictate that this can result in a Class E or Class F felony conviction, based on the facts of the case. Those who fire a shot intentionally in an occupied building, vehicle, or enclosure with the intention of inciting fear can be charged with a Class F felony. Charges for a Class E felony can be brought when the defendant willfully or wantonly discharges or attempts to discharge a firearm (1) as part of criminal game activity; (2) within city limits; (3) within a building, structure, or vehicle, (4) toward another person; (5) toward another group of people outside an enclosure.

Contact an Experienced North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorneys to Fully Understand Local Gun Laws

If you’ve been charged with a gun crime in North Carolina, it’s important to have the representation of a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side who can fight the charges brought against you. The lawyers at Reece & Reece, Attorneys at Law are knowledgeable on North Carolina gun laws and are committed to protecting the Constitutional rights of those who are facing gun crime charges in Johnston County. Call (919) 300-1249 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help.

Categories: Criminal Defense