Governor McCrory recently signed into law legislation updating the NC Pistol Purchase Permit process. As before, the Sheriff of the applicant’s county of residence remains in charge of applying NC law in conducting the required background check of the applicant before issuing a permit.

Following are the parts of the purchase permit process as defined by NC statutes.

  1. Criminal history background check. The Sheriff must determine that it is not a violation of State or Federal law for the applicant to purchase, transfer, receive, or possess a handgun. The law requires the Sheriff’s department to determine this by accessing the computerized criminal history records maintained by the:
    1. NC State Bureau of Investigation (SBI).
    2. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
    3. National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
    4. NC Administrative Office of the Courts.
  2. Reasons for refusal. The law directs the Sheriff to refuse to issue a permit to the following persons:
    1. Felony–One who is under indictment or has been convicted of a felony in any state.
    2. On the run or in hidingOne who is a fugitive from justice.
    3. Unlawful drug use–One who unlawfully uses or is addicted to marijuana or another illegal drug.
    4. Judicial finding of incompetence or a judicial involuntary commitmentOne whom a judge has ruled mentally incompetent or whom a judge has involuntarily committed to a mental institution. Note: This group does not include applicants merely being treated for a mental health condition, or applicants whose legal rights have been restored following a prior judicial finding of incompetence, or prior judicial commitment.
    5. Illegal alien:–One who resides in North Carolina or the United States illegally or unlawfully.
    6. Dishonorable dischargeOne who has been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces of the United States.
    7. Renounced citizenshipOne who is a citizen of the United States but has renounced his citizenship.
    8. Restraining orderOne who is under a court order restraining him or her from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of the intimate partner.
  3. Sheriff must be independently satisfied that the applicant is of “good moral character.” The Sheriff may only consider the applicant’s conduct and criminal history for a 5-year period preceding the application to make this determination.
  4. Pistol use requirements. The applicant must declare that the pistol(s) to be purchased is only to be used for: a) the protection of the home, business, person, family, or property; b) target shooting; c) collecting; or d) hunting; and the Sheriff must determine that this declaration is correct.
  5. Fee. The fee is $5 for each pistol purchase permit.

 A North Carolina citizen may alternatively legally purchase a pistol by using a valid North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permit.


Vance R. Parker, JD, MBA, is an avid North Carolina outdoorsman, and estate planning, elder law, and special needs attorney, who also works to protect rural landowners, and drafts firearms trusts for sportsmen and sportswomen.  He serves as Secretary of the North Carolina Rifle and Pistol Association (NCRPA.)  Vance R. Parker’s legal practice, Vance Parker Law, PLLC, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is A+ Rated by the NC Better Business Bureau.

Vance R. Parker also maintains the sportsmen’s and sportswomen’s law website NC Sportsmen’s Law News.