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 from the sheriff of the county in which the person resides.1 Furthermore, it is unlawful for any person to receive a handgun in the mail (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
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.3 Applicants must undergo a background check to obtain a permit.4 See the North Carolina Licensing of Gun Purchasers or Owners section for more information. Once obtained, the permit to purchase a handgun is valid for up to five years and is good for the purchase of one handgun.5
Unlicensed sellers are also subject to general prohibitions governing the sale of firearms to prohibited persons and minors.
Sales and transfers of long guns by unlicensed sellers (non-firearms dealers) are not subject to background checks in North Carolina, although federal and state purchaser prohibitions still apply.
See our Universal Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.