With certain exceptions, North Carolina prohibits any person, firm, or corporation from manufacturing, selling, giving away, disposing of, using, or possessing any machine gun or submachine gun, unless the person lawfully possesses or owns the weapon in compliance with federal law.1 Federal law generally allows private citizens to possess machine guns manufactured prior to May 19, 1986 so long as they are registered, and are not prohibited by state or local law.

Although North Carolina law explicitly grants a sheriff discretion in executing the paperwork required by the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to allow such a person to obtain the weapon,2 the state enacted a law in 2015 that requires the chief law enforcement officer to provide the required certification within 15 days if the applicant is not prohibited by State or federal law from receiving or possessing the firearm and is not the subject of a proceeding that could result in the applicant being prohibited by law from receiving or possessing the firearm. Although the 2015 law did not repeal the existing section granting the chief law enforcement officer discretion in executing the certificate, the law states that the officer may not refuse to provide certification based on a generalized objection to private persons or entities making, possessing, or receiving firearms or any certain type of firearm the possession of which is not prohibited by law.3

See our Machine Guns policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-409(b). Subsection (a) of the same statute defines “machine gun” or “submachine gun” as “any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. The term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting a weapon into a machine gun, and any combination of parts from which a machine gun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.” ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎
  3. N.C. Gen. Stat. §14-409.41(b). ⤴︎