CARRYING YOUR FIREARM IN NORTH CAROLINA
Prepared by U.S. LawShield Independent Program Attorney licensed in the State of North Carolina. Revised on February 21, 2019.
(NC General Statutes Section 14-415.24)
North Carolina automatically recognizes concealed carry permits/licenses issued in any other state. North Carolina does not recognize out-of-state permits held by North Carolina residents.
(NC GS Sections 415.11; 14-269)
North Carolina will recognize your permit/license only for handguns. It is illegal to carry any other concealed weapon except a pocketknife carried in the closed position. An ordinary pocketknife is defined as “a small knife designed for carrying in a pocket or purse, that has its cutting edge and point entirely enclosed by its handle, and that may not be opened by a throwing, explosive or spring action.”
(NC GS Section 14-269)
North Carolina will allow anyone who is eligible to own a firearm, to carry a loaded handgun in their vehicle, regardless of whether they have a permit or license. If you do not have a concealed carry permit/license, the handgun must not be concealed, unless it is in a secure locked container or in the trunk.
LOCAL GOVERNMENT REGULATION
(NCGS Section 14-415.23)
The state of North Carolina has preempted local governments from making firearm laws. This means that the law is uniform throughout the state with some exceptions. A local government can adopt an ordinance allowing the posting of a prohibition against carrying a concealed firearm in local government buildings and their appurtenant premises and municipal and county recreational facilities.
(NC GS Sections 14-269.4; 14-415.11)
Open Carry in North Carolina is complicated. Open carry is allowed except in areas where it is specifically prohibited including any areas where concealed carry is prohibited. Open carry of a firearm is prohibited in any assembly where a fee has been charged for admission or any establishment where alcohol is sold and consumed and in all state parks. The areas that may prohibit open carry are too extensive for this pamphlet so before engaging in open carry in an area in North Carolina you should check in advance to determine if it is prohibited in a specific area. Open carry is allowed in state-owned rest areas and rest stops. Concealed carry is allowed by only those holding a valid recognized concealed weapons license or permit issued by their state of residence (see paragraph above regarding recognized permits).
PERMIT CARRY/DUTY TO NOTIFY LAW ENFORCEMENT
(NC GS Section 14-415.21)
An out-of-state permit/license holder (and an in state one too) must have their permit on them at any time that they are carrying a concealed weapon and must reveal themselves as a concealed weapons permit/license holder to the police when approached or addressed by an officer.
(NC GS Sections 14-269; 14-269.2; 14-269.3; 14-269.4; 14-415.23)
In the state of North Carolina, prohibited concealed carry places include: on school grounds including college campuses, legislative buildings and courthouses, law enforcement agencies or correctional facilities, picket lines or demonstrations, areas housing only state or federal offices, any federal or state office, or on any property where you have notice that you are not welcome to carry a firearm. North Carolina law states the posting of a conspicuous sign is proper notice or an owner may give oral notice. We advise that if you see a sign that in any way seems to indicate that guns are not welcome, you take your business elsewhere, instead of becoming the test case. Excluding federal property, a concealed permit holder may have a firearm on prohibited premises if the firearm is in a closed compartment or container within a locked vehicle or in a locked container securely attached to the vehicle.
CONSUMING ALCOHOL and CARRYING YOUR FIREARM
(NC GS Section 14-269.3)
It is unlawful in NC to carry a concealed handgun while consuming alcohol or at any time while a person has remaining in their body any alcohol previously consumed. You may carry a concealed firearm with a permit in a bar as long as you consume no alcohol. It is not unlawful to open carry after consuming alcohol if you are in an area where open carry is allowed (see above you may not open carry in any establishment where alcohol is sold or consumed).
(NC GS Section 14-415.11)
You can carry a concealed weapon in state parks within the state of North Carolina if you have a recognized concealed weapons permit/license.
Federal law allows possession of firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges so long as the person is not otherwise prohibited by law from possessing the firearm and the possession is in compliance with the law of the state in which the national park or wildlife refuge is located. However, you cannot bring the firearm into any federal buildings which include ranger stations, museums, exhibits, and restrooms. Additionally, federal law prohibits any loaded firearm or ammunition on the lands and waters of Falls Lake, Jordan Lake and Kerr Lake state recreation areas that are managed by North Carolina but owned by the Army Corps of Engineers. 16 U.S.C. § 1a-7b (2012); 18 U.S.C. § 930 (2006); 54 U.S.C. § 104906 (2012)
VISITING FRIENDS/PRIVATE HOMES
(NC GS Section 14-415.11)
Carrying a concealed weapon at a friend or relative’s home is allowed under North Carolina law, if you have a concealed weapons license/permit. However, just like any other private property owner, your friend can prohibit the presence of firearms on their property. If you know that you are not welcome on the property with a firearm, you are committing a civil infraction (eligible for a fine) and may also be charged with misdemeanor trespass. Even if you do not have a license to carry concealed, if your friend or relative allow you to carry on their property while you are a guest, you can carry either in a concealed or open manner in accordance with their wishes while on their property.
POTENTIAL CARRY CRIMES
To follow is a list of firearms and weapons related charges and potential penalties that you can face if you carry a firearm without a recognized carry license/permit in North Carolina:
- Carry of a concealed weapon – covers all non-firearm weapons. It is a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and up to $1,000 fine. (NC GS Section 14-269)
- Carry of a Concealed Firearm without a concealed carry permit or license– It is a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in prison and up to a $1,000 fine for the first offense and thereafter punishable as a class H felony punishable by up to 39 months in prison and a fine in the discretion of the court. (NC GS Section 14-269)
- Carrying with a conceal permit or license into a prohibited place – knowingly to possess or carry on:
- School, college or university facilities- Class I felony punishable up to 24 months in prison and a fine in the discretion of the Court (NC GS Section 14-269.2)
- Any building housing any courtroom or the State Capital Building, the Executive Mansion and Western Residence of the Governor and grounds- Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 150 days in jail and a fine in the discretion of the Court (NC GS Section 14-269.2))
- After consuming alcohol- Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $1000 fine
- Private premises where notice is posted or orally given is an infraction punishable by a fine (NC GS Section 14-415.21)
- Concealed carry permit holder who carries concealed without having the permit on your person or not displaying the permit upon contact with a law enforcement officer is an infraction punishable by a fine. (NC GS Section 14-415.21)
- All other prohibited places- Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $1000 fine (NC GS Section 14-415.21)
One final note: We frequently are asked about transferring through sale or gift a firearm to a person living in a different state. It is a violation of FEDERAL LAW to give, sell, or trade any firearm to a non-resident, unless done through a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL). This includes a gift to a child or parent. Both the giver and the receiver of the firearm can be convicted. This is punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment in a Federal Penitentiary and up to a $5,000 fine. 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(5) (2005)
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