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Know the Laws: North Carolina

UPDATED August 17, 2016

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Below is information about state gun laws in North Carolina.  A domestic violence protective order or a criminal conviction may make it illegal for an abuser to have a gun. However, in addition to these state-specific laws, there are also federal gun laws that could apply. To fully understand all of the legal protections available, it is important that you also read the Federal Gun Laws pages.

WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get in touch with a domestic violence advocate in your community for more information on gun laws in your area. Go to the NC Where to Find Help page to find domestic violence organizations and legal help in your area.

More Information and Where to Get Help

back to topI do not have a DVPO against the abuser and s/he has not been convicted of a crime. Can s/he have a gun?

There can be other reasons (aside from criminal convictions and being the respondent on a protection order) that can make it illegal for someone to possess a gun.  Under North Carolina law, a person has to first apply for a permit before legally owning a firearm.  The following people should be denied the permit according to the law and, therefore, cannot legally possess a firearm:

  • someone who was found not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity;
  • someone who was determined to not have the mental capacity to proceed in a criminal case;*
  • someone who is an illegal drug user or an addict;
  • someone who has been found to be mentally incompetent by a judge or has been committed to any mental institution;
  • an illegal immigrant in the United States or someone who has renounced his/her U.S. citizenship; or
  • someone who has been discharged from the armed forces under dishonorable conditions.**

If none of these situations apply, you can still make a plan for your safety. See our Staying Safe page for more information. You can also contact your local domestic violence organization for additional help.

For additional information on gun laws in North Carolina, you can go to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence website.

* NCGS § 14-415.3(a)
** NCGS § 14-404(c)

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back to topIf the abuser is a law enforcement officer or other government official, do the state firearm laws still apply?

Maybe.  If the abuser has not been convicted of a crime, and you have a DVPO against him, the abuser may still be able to use the gun for work purposes, but not for personal use.* You can ask the judge at your DVPO hearing to order that the abuser cannot have a gun for work purposes . If the judge decides to check this box, the abuser cannot use a gun at work or for personal use. To see a copy of the DVPO order online, go to our NC Download Court Forms page.

If you are confused or not sure whether the abuser can still use his/her gun for work purposes, you can talk to a domestic violence advocate in your area or call the National Center on Full Faith and Credit to find out more information.

* NCGS § 50B-3.1(k)

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back to topI read through all of this information, and I'm still confused. What can I do?

Trying to understand both federal and state laws can be confusing, but there are people who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law. You can:

Did you find this information helpful?

Thank you to the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence for assistance with this page.

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