North Carolina law prohibits the sale or transfer of a handgun to a person who has not obtained a permit to purchase a handgun or a concealed handgun permit.1 Furthermore, it is unlawful for any person to receive a handgun from any postmaster, postal clerk, employee in the parcel post department, rural mail carrier, express agent or employee, railroad agent or employee within North Carolina without having a permit in his or her possession and without exhibiting the permit at the time of delivery to the person delivering the firearm.2
Once obtained, the permit to purchase a handgun, issued by the sheriff of the county in which the purchaser resides, is valid for up to five years and is good for the purchase of one handgun.3 To obtain a permit, an applicant must present evidence that he or she is of good moral character and desires the weapon for protection, target shooting, collecting or hunting.4 Applicants must undergo a background check to obtain a permit.5 See the North Carolina Licensing of Gun Purchasers or Owners section for more information.
North Carolina imposes a felony on any person who sells, offers for sale, gives or transfers in any way a handgun to a person under age 18.6 However, it is not an offense if the handgun is:
- Lent to the minor for lawful temporary use;
- Transferred to an adult custodian and the minor takes only temporary possession as allowed by the adult custodian; or
- A devise distributed to a parent or guardian and the minor takes only temporary possession as allowed by the adult custodian.
Long gun transfers by private sellers (non-firearms dealers) are not subject to background checks in North Carolina, although federal and state purchaser prohibitions still apply.
State law prohibits transferring any deadly weapon or any cartridge or ammunition for firearms to any inmate of a charitable, mental or penal institution, or local confinement facility.7
State law governs sales of firearms by any employee of the state in the exercise of his or her official duty.8
See our Private Sales policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.