How to Sell a Gun in North Carolina?

Navigating the complexities of North Carolina guns laws can be challenging. The state has additional regulations that extend beyond the federal requirements to own certain types of firearms. This makes for a lengthy legal process that requires potential owners and those looking to buy or sell firearms through a private transaction or a federally licensed dealer to be informed of both state and federal laws on firearms.

The following information is compiled from North Carolina Firearms Laws publication through the official website of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association.

How to Buy and Sell a Firearm in North Carolina

Anyone purchasing a firearm from a licensed firearms dealer must complete a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms form 4473 (firearms transaction form). This form will be maintained by the dealer. A firearms purchaser must, under the permanent provisions of the Federal Brady Law, also undergo a National Instant Criminal Background Check System check, which will be performed by the firearms dealer.

The check will indicate to the dealer whether the purchaser’s background allows for the person to complete the purchase of the firearm. If the check disallows the sale for no warranted reason, there is an appeal process the purchaser can pursue to receive the necessary clearance to complete the purchase.

North Carolina uses pistol purchase permits for its residents. The state’s pistol permitting and concealed carry permit laws qualify as an alternative to the requirements of the Brady Law. Therefore, when a person desires to purchase a handgun from a federally licensed dealer, the person needs to comply solely with North Carolina’s pistol permit laws and present a valid permit to purchase a handgun or valid North Carolina-issued concealed carry permit. (Please note: Even if a NICS inquiry by a federally licensed dealer was done in this circumstance, it does not do away with the necessity for a pistol purchase permit.)

The Brady Law recognizes certain alternatives to the NICS checks. Since North Carolina handgun purchase permits qualify as an alternative to a NICS check, a firearms dealer may conclude a sale of a handgun or long gun without a NICS check, if the purchaser delivers a valid North Carolina-issued pistol purchase permit to the dealer.

Gen. Stat. § 14-409.12. The requirement of obtaining a permit prior to the receipt of a handgun does not apply to the purchase and receipt of “long guns,” such as shotguns and rifles.

How to Conduct a Private Sale of a Firearm in North Carolina

Under North Carolina law, it is unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to sell, give away, transfer, purchase, or receive, at any place in the State, any pistol, unless the purchaser or receiver has first obtained a license or permit to receive such a pistol by the sheriff of the county where the purchaser or receiver resides, or the purchaser or receiver possesses a valid North Carolina issued concealed carry permit. This requirement to obtain a permit prior to the transfer of a pistol applies not only to a commercial transaction, typically at a sporting goods store, but also between private individuals or companies throughout North Carolina.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-402(a).

Buying and Selling an Antique Firearm

Specifically exempted from the provisions of the pistol permit requirement is the transfer of antique firearms or historic-edged weapons. An “antique firearm” is one that was manufactured on or before 1898 and includes any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar ignition system. It also includes a replica thereof if the replica is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition. It also includes any muzzle loading rifle, muzzle loading shotgun, or muzzle loading pistol, which is designed to use black powder substitute, and which cannot use fixed ammunition. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-409(a).

However, the term “antique firearm” does not include any weapon which incorporates a firearm frame or receiver; is converted into a muzzle loading weapon; or is a muzzle loading weapon that can be readily convened to fire fixed ammunition by replacing the barrel, bolt, breechlock, or any combination thereof. A “historic-edged weapon” is defined to be a bayonet, trench knife, sword, or dagger manufactured during or prior to World War II, but no later than January 1, 1946. N.C.

Restrictions on Firearm Ownership North Carolina

In order to purchase a firearm legally, the buyer must be 18 years old to purchase rifles, shotguns and ammunition. Buyers looking to purchase handguns must be at least 21 years old.

A county sheriff is only authorized under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-402 to issue a permit to receive or purchase a handgun when an application is submitted by a person who is a resident of his/her particular county. The sole exception is that the sheriff may issue a permit to a non-resident when the purpose of the permit is for collecting. Prior to issuing a permit, the sheriff must fully satisfy him/herself by affidavits, oral evidence, or otherwise, that the applicant is of good moral character and that the person, firm, or corporation wants to possess the weapon for one of the following purposes:

  1. The protection of the applicant’s home, business, person, family, or property;
  2. Target shooting;
  3. Collecting; or
  4. Hunting.

For purposes of determining an applicant’s good moral character, the sheriff can only consider the applicant’s conduct and criminal history for the five year period prior to the date of the application.

Additionally, the sheriff must verify by a criminal history background investigation that it is not a violation of State or federal law for the applicant to purchase, transfer, receive, or possess a handgun. The sheriff shall determine the criminal history of any applicant by accessing computerized criminal history records as maintained by the State and Federal Bureaus of Investigation, by conducting a national criminal history records check, and by conducting a criminal history check through the Administrative Office of the Courts. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-404.

North Carolina law further specifies that a permit shall not be issued to the following:

  1. An applicant who is under an indictment, or information for, or has been convicted in any state, or in any court of the United States, of a felony (other than an offense pertaining to anti-trust violations, unfair trade practices, or restraints of trade). However, a person who has been convicted of a felony and is later pardoned may obtain a permit, if the purchase or receipt of the pistol does not violate the conditions of the pardon;
  2. The applicant is a fugitive from justice;
  3. The applicant is an unlawful user of or addicted to marijuana, any depressant, stimulant, or narcotic drug;
  4. The applicant has been adjudicated incompetent or has been committed to any mental institution;
  5. The applicant is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States;
  6. The applicant has been discharged from the U.S. armed forces under dishonorable conditions;
  7. The applicant, having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced his/her citizenship; or
  8. The applicant is subject to a court order that:

(1) Was issued after a hearing of which the applicant received actual notice, and at which the applicant had an opportunity to participate;

(2) Restrains the person from harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner of the person or child of the intimate partner of the person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and

(3) Includes a finding that the person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of the intimate partner or child, or by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-404.


  • Conviction (felony or misdemeanor) where the crime has a maximum imprisonment term exceeding 1 year (even if a buyer did not receive actual imprisonment exceeding 1 year).
  • Warrant (felony or out-of-state misdemeanor).
  • Felony pre-trial release.
  • Misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence restraining/stalking/protection order mental health adjudication or commitment.
  • Unlawful use or addicted to a controlled substance (including marijuana).
  • Dishonorable discharge from the armed forces.
  • Renounced U.S. citizenship.
  • Illegal alien.

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The information contained on this website has been prepared as a service to the internet community and is not intended to constitute legal advice. has used reasonable efforts in collecting, preparing, and providing quality information and material, but does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, completeness, adequacy, or currency of the information contained in or linked to this website. Users of information from this website or links do so at their own risk and should consult their local firearm law resources and/or an attorney when engaging in selling a firearm. The cited information in this article was obtained on 08/05/21 from