north carolina ccw

Concealed Carry in North Carolina: The In’s and Out’s

At first glance, self-defense is rarely measured by paperwork, but lawfully relying on a deadly weapon in this state means understanding and following North Carolina concealed carry laws.


Carrying a concealed handgun within North Carolina is illegal, but in 1995 North Carolina began allowing certain citizens the right to carry concealed if they qualified for a concealed handgun permit by applying through a local county sheriff.


It’s not too difficult to do so.


North Carolina concealed carry permit application

concealed carry nc

Trim through the paperwork and make a bureaucratic bee-line for the mandatory North Carolina concealed carry permit by beginning at a local sheriff’s office.


From a basic viewpoint, applying for a permit is fairly straightforward, but it depends on which type of permit is being sought out. There is a pistol purchase permit and there is a concealed handgun permit.


Either of the two is required to buy a handgun, but only one of them allows carrying the handgun concealed within authorized areas. Here are the general guidelines for the pistol purchase permit:


  • Obtain the application at a county sheriff’s office, which must provide physical and electronic copies of the appropriate forms
  • Pay $5.00 for each permit requested
  • Show government-issued identification and proof of residency
  • A signed statement through a form approved by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) that authorizes any relevant party with court orders to provide mental health information and background information about the applicant
  • The applicant will know within 14 days whether or not they will be granted the permit

Much like the concealed handgun permit, there may be separate intricacies and requirements within each sheriff’s office. Make sure to have a thorough conversation with the ranking authority and understand that this is not formal legal advice.


That being said, according to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-415.13, here are the basic guidelines for obtaining a concealed handgun permit:


  • Under oath, complete an application and submit it to the county sheriff
  • Pay the $80 application fee
  • Provide a set of fingerprints, which can be fulfilled at the sheriff’s office for a fee of up to $10
  • Complete an approved handgun safety course, which many sheriff’s office websites list, and provide a certificate with the application
  • An AOC-approved release that allows court-ordered entities to release information about the applicant’s mental health and criminal background
  • The applicant will receive word of approval or denial within 45 days, a highlighted difference between the other permit

Although only county residents may for a permit, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-404, which establishes the criteria by which an applicant will be issued a permit, does not bar non-residents within North Carolina to apply for a permit under the grounds of collecting firearms.


A renewal application and its $75 fee, furnished by G.S. § 14-415.19, must be submitted within 90 days of the permit’s expiration, but the sheriff will send written notice within 45 days. The respective sheriff will run another background check and may require the applicant to take another firearms safety course.


Applying within 90 days prior to expiration will keep the permit active after the current expiration date, which will be five years after it’s issued, until the new permit is administered. Reapplying 60 days after the expiration date may be grounds for the sheriff to waive the firearms course requirement, according to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-415.16A.


Follow up with the sheriff’s office on the course requirement.


North Carolina CCW Permit Denial

north carolina concealed carry permit

The permit can be denied for a number of reasons -- arguably, a lot of reasons.


Sheriffs’ offices keep a record of all permits issued and denied, and that list of denials is public record, as opposed to the confidential list of those who own permits. The list of denials is provided upon request.


The denial may be appealed to a superior court. As outlined in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-404, a permit can be refused to the following applicants:


  • Those under indictment for or have been convicted of a felony in any state or court within the U.S., with exceptions for pardons
  • A fugitive of justice
  • Unlawful users of controlled substances
  • Those adjudicated as mentally incompetent or those committed to any mental institution
  • An alien in the U.S. or those unlawfully in the U.S.
  • Those who’ve been dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Anyone who’s renounced their U.S. citizenship
  • Those with a court order that was issued after a hearing they had notice of, that bars them legally from most measures of domestic violence or threat and potential for domestic violence or threat to a current or former partner, child of a partner or those connected to a child or any partner.

Knowing how to carry within the state is one thing, but understanding where a North Carolina permit is recognized and which states recognize a North Carolina permit is also a necessity.


North Carolina Concealed Carry Reciprocity

nc reciprocity

As of December 1, 2011, North Carolina concealed carry reciprocity agreements expanded immensely, given that at that date the state automatically began to recognize every other state’s permit.


That makes traveling to North Carolina with a firearm a bit easier.


Traveling from North Carolina with a firearm, however, is another process in and of itself. Around 40 states formally recognize the North Carolina concealed carry permit in some shape or form, but that is certainly subject to change.


Stay up to date with a CCW reciprocity map.


No matter if the concealed carrier is traveling to North Carolina, the potential concealed carrier is waiting on their permit or the permit holder is carrying in state, there are a few things in specific to keep in mind.


What to Expect With Concealed Carry in North Carolina

ccw holster north carolina

Concealed carry in North Carolina is not universal. There are location restrictions, as with any other state within the U.S.


That’s to be expected.


Here’s where not to take that firearm.


  • Local government buildings with adopted ordinances and posted signage prohibiting concealed carry
  • Areas prohibited by federal law
  • State and federal courthouses
  • State-occupied property
  • Assembly and parade locations
  • Public education property, but a permit holder can secure a firearm in a locked vehicle
  • Any areas where the owner posts signage prohibiting concealed carry on the premises
  • Any building or area occupied by state or federal employees
  • Any law enforcement or correctional facility

The state offers a fairly useful chart highlighting when and where concealed handguns are permitted or prohibited, and to what degree.


The North Carolina Department of Justice makes it a point to mention several required “do’s and dont’s” in multiple sources of concealed carry information, and they’re good points to make. Here are their sentiments summarized:


  1. Carrying concealed requires carrying valid ID and the permit.
  2. If stopped by law enforcement, verbally make them aware of the permit and concealed weapon. Do not attempt to draw or show the weapon without being prompted to do so.
  3. Law enforcement can request to see the concealed carrier’s permit and identification at any time.
  4. Carrying a concealed handgun? Better not be carrying a beer. Alcohol and ammunition do not mix. Do not concealed carry while consuming alcohol.
  5. Let the sheriff who issued the permit know when of any address change within 30 days.
  6. Any lost or damaged permit needs to be replaced with the appropriate application and fee. Do not concealed carry without the permit.
  7. If stopped on the road by law enforcement, place both hands on the wheel and verbally make them aware of the permit and concealed handgun, as well as where the handgun is.

The attorney general wrote a memo on House Bill 937 in 2013 and its attempt to eliminate the pistol permit program.


Roy Cooper spoke about the program’s efficacy in keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals, domestic abusers and mentally ill within private sales, given that all individual sales in the state must be conducted with the appropriate permits whether at a gun show or any other location separate from a federally licensed facility.


Whether or not the gun owner in North Carolina ardently supports constitutional carry, Cooper cited that between 40 to 50 percent of all reported murders within North Carolina are due to handgun fatalities. Keeping those weapons out of the wrong hands should be supported, no matter who the law abiding citizen is.


Indeed, the 2014 North Carolina uniform crime report cited 527 cases of murder, of which 257 were with a handgun -- a 16 percent increase from the year prior, which had 222 cases of murder attached to a handgun.


The unfortunate loss of those individual human lives provides a strong catalyst for the safety a handgun can provide the private, lawful, responsible concealed carrier looking to safeguard friends and family from those looking to criminally use handguns with deadly force.


Arguably, an appropriate, thorough background check, in the state’s eyes, seems to be a measure of defense against the perils of irresponsible gun ownership.


Many gun owners disagree with extensive government oversight within the realm of the Second Amendment, and for good reason, but outside of that rigorous debate, all concealed carriers should stand strong behind gun safety and fight together as one for meaningful legislation meant to protect the lives of loved ones.


At the end of the day, isn’t that one of the primary tenets of gun ownership?




gun blog writer jake smith  

About The Author


Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter in his final year of studying public relations and apparel at the University of Idaho.