North Carolina Conceal Carry FAQs
Q: I am a law-abiding resident of North Carolina. How do I obtain a Concealed Handgun Permit?
A: Like other gun-related permits, the Concealed Handgun Permit is available through your County Sheriff’s office. Contact the Sheriff’s office in your county to receive additional information or begin the application process. You can also peruse detailed information on the NC Department of Justice website, accessible through the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Page.
Q: I live in a different State, and have a permit/license to carry issued by my State. Can I legally carry concealed in NC?
A: Probably. As of March, 2012, reciprocity legislation in NC allows recognition of all valid concealed carry handgun permits issued by other states. If your State of residence issues CCH permits and you hold one, you can legally carry in NC.
Check Concealed Carry Reciprocity Page for more information.
NOTE: Reciprocity from state to state generally requires an out-of-state permit holder to know and abide by the details of CCH in the state where they are actually carrying concealed.
Q: I visit NC frequently/have a vacation home in NC/will stay temporarily in NC on business, but my permanent residence is in another State. Can I apply for a NC Concealed Handgun permit?
A: No. NC does not issue permits to non-permanent residents. In order to obtain a permit you must establish permanent residency in NC.
Q: Can I carry a gun in NC without having a Concealed Handgun permit?
A: This is dependent on many factors. On private property where you have permission of the owner – Yes. In rural areas where open carry is permitted – Yes. In cities and towns where a Display Ban is in effect – No.
Q: Is storing a gun under the seat of my car or in a bag in the back seat considered Concealed Carry?
Q: Is storing a gun on the seat cushion of my car with a coat laid over it considered Concealed Carry?
Q: Is storing a gun in the glovebox of my car considered Concealed Carry?
Q: What if the glovebox is locked?
A: NC law defines concealed carry as “on or about the person,” and the courts have construed this to also mean weapons that are stored within easy access. Does a locked glovebox prevent “easy access?” This interpretation will be up to law enforcement, and ultimately the Judge.
Q: I don’t want to bother with a Concealed Handgun permit, but I want to carry a gun in my car. Is this legal?
A: Maybe. If the gun is in plain view (such as on the seat, with nothing covering it), most law enforcement personnel would not consider it concealed. There are lots of places and areas in NC where a non-concealed firearm is not permitted though, and there may be law enforcement personnel who take a different view of what constitutes “concealed.”
Q: Does a NC Concealed Handgun Permit allow me to carry any other weapon, such as a knife, concealed? Is there a Permit available in NC that will allow me to carry a concealed weapon other than a handgun?
A: No. The Concealed Handgun law was written specifically to permit the carrying of concealed Handguns. Carrying of other concealed weapons is illegal, and there is no permit available for other weapons types.
Q: I have been arrested for illegal concealed carry, and my gun was confiscated. How do I get it back?
A: NC law says that if you are convicted of any firearms offense, your confiscated firearm cannot be returned to you. It will either be turned over to a local law enforcement department for their use or (most likely) destroyed. If you have been arrested for illegal concealed carry, you should immediately consult with an attorney knowledgeable in NC criminal law.
Q: My grandmother has always carried a small pistol in her purse for personal protection. She does not have a permit. Could she get in trouble for this? It’s just a small ladies’ gun.
A: For many, many years it has been common practice to ignore concealed carry laws in NC, and many police officers and judges looked the other way as long as the person was otherwise law-abiding. This is no longer true. The penalties for illegal concealed carry have been increased to a serious misdemeanor for the first offense, and a felony for the second offense. Law enforcement personnel actively look for weapons during roadblocks and routine traffic stops. Schools and municipal buildings may have metal detectors installed. Concealed carry without a permit is illegal and unwise. Tell your grandmother she should either get a permit or discontinue carrying her gun. It doesn’t matter how big or small the gun is, it’s still a firearm.
Q: I don’t want to get a Concealed Handgun Permit; I just want to carry a gun openly in a holster. Is this legal?
A: In North Carolina there is no State law specifically prohibiting the open carry of firearms. Under the theory that if it isn’t specifically prohibited it’s not illegal, open carry is possible. There are some glaring exceptions to this. They are:
- Private property owners and businesses can post “no guns.”
- Firearms are strictly prohibited on state-owned property, except rest areas and state lands where hunting is permitted.
- Local governments can (and do) enact prohibitions against “display of firearms” in cities and/or specific areas within cities or counties, which means they can’t be visible. Under this statute there is absolutely no requirement for the city or county to post notice of the display ban.
- Local governments can (and do) enact firearms bans on local government property and in parks and recreational areas.
- Any federally-owned property or federally-regulated property like banks and Post Offices is of course a prohibited area.
- Much of the Outer Banks is “National Seashore,” and firearms are prohibited in those areas.
So in theory that leaves everywhere else in the state – except for one more thing. There is a common-law offense in NC called “going armed to the terror of the people.” Basically what this means is that if someone sees you carrying a firearm and calls the police to report “person with a gun,” you can be charged with this offense. It’s not often used in rural areas, but has been used in populated areas. If you are an out-of-state visitor who is not here lawfully hunting or engaged in some overt firearms-related event such as a competition, it will be hard to talk your way out of it.
Q: So is open carry legal in NC?
A: In theory, yes. In practice, maybe. It seems to us like a very good way to get arrested.
Q: Is my NC Concealed Handgun Permit valid in any other State?
A: Possibly. North Carolina has a reciprocity law, meaning that NC honors other State’s permits like it honors out-of-State driver licenses, as long as the other State will honor NC’s permit.
This information is not certain, and can change. Before carrying a concealed handgun in any State it is wise to check with the State’s Attorney General for clarification. Also, it has been the experience of some of our members that local law enforcement personnel may not be aware of laws allowing out-of-state permit holders to carry concealed. It would be prudent to carry a copy of the individual State Statute that recognizes your NC permit; however, even that may not be protection against harassment or arrest.
As stated previously, you should refer to the Concealed Carry Reciprocity page for more info.