North Carolina law provides that the lawful design, marketing, manufacture, distribution, sale, or transfer of firearms or ammunition to the public is not an unreasonably dangerous activity and does not constitute a nuisance per se.1 North Carolina law further provides that the state is the only government entity that may bring an action against a firearms or ammunition marketer, manufacturer, distributor, dealer, seller or trade association relating to the lawful design, marketing, manufacture, distribution, sale, or transfer of firearms or ammunition to the public.2 North Carolina law also provides that, in such a case, “it is the unlawful use of firearms and ammunition, rather than their lawful design, marketing, manufacture, distribution, sale, or transfer that is the proximate cause of injuries arising from their unlawful use.”3 North Carolina does not prohibit a local government from bringing an action against a firearms or ammunition marketer, manufacturer, distributor, dealer, seller or trade association for breach of contract or warranty for defective materials or workmanship as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the local government.4
North Carolina law provides that, in a products liability action involving firearms or ammunition, the question of whether a firearm or ammunition shell is defective in design must not be based on a comparison or weighing of the benefits of the product against its risk of causing damage, injury or death.5
North Carolina further provides that in a products liability action brought against a firearm or ammunition manufacturer, importer, distributor, or retailer that alleges a design defect, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove:
- That the actual design of the firearm or ammunition was defective, causing it not to function in a manner reasonably expected by an ordinary consumer of firearms or ammunition; and
- That any defective design was the proximate cause of the injury, damage, or death.6
North Carolina provides that the operator or owner of a sport shooting range is not subject to civil liability or criminal prosecution or an action for nuisance, and a state court may not enjoin the use or operation of the range on the basis of noise or noise pollution resulting from the operation or use of the range if the range was in existence on September 1, 1994 and the range was in compliance with any noise control laws that applied at the time the range began operation.7 Rules adopted by any state department or agency for limiting levels of noise in terms of decibel level that may occur in the outdoor atmosphere do not apply to a sport shooting range.8
A person who acquires title to real property adversely affected by the use of a sport shooting range initially operated prior to the time the person acquired title must not maintain a nuisance action on the basis of noise or noise pollution against the owner of the range to restrain, enjoin, or impede its use.9 However, the person may maintain a nuisance action within one year of the date of a substantial change in use.10 This section does not prohibit actions for negligence or recklessness in the operation of the range or by a person using the range.11
See our policy page on Gun Industry Immunity for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.