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News State / Region North Carolina gun laws

With so many news headlines focusing on the the nationwide debate of gun laws, many places throughout the country have seen the sale of ammunition and firearms increase substantially. Many North Carolinians are not fully aware of the state's laws concerning firearms and what they can and cannot do.

In N.C., there are few laws that restrict rifles and shotguns and none that demand owners of any type of gun to register them, including handguns. According to federal law, convicted felons may not own a firearm, therefore making it illegal in N.C. as well.

There may also be questions concerning assault rifles. The North Carolina Rifle and Pistol Association describes assault rifles as select-fire battle rifles that are only available to military and law enforcement. The term “select-fire” refers to a firearm that can be switched from semi-automatic (one shot per pull of the trigger) to fully automatic which would resemble a burst of rounds each time the trigger is pulled. These weapons are considered machine guns and are illegal for private citizens to own in accordance to a federal ban in 1934. There are also rifles that resemble these assault rifles cosmetically, but are not actually machine guns, only firing one shot at a time and are legal in N.C. Concealed Carry Permit & Permit to

Purchase a Handgun

According to James Lau, Public Information and Administrative Officer for the Macon County Sheriff's Department, to obtain a Concealed Carry Permit, an applicant must first complete a safety course conducted by a third party. Upon completion of the course, the person seeking the permit should provide the original certificate of completion along with an application that can be obtained at the Macon County Law Enforcement Center to the Sheriff’s Department. Once these steps have been completed, the applicant will pay a $90 fee and submit to fingerprinting at the Sheriff's Department. Upon completion of a background check, the office will send the request to Raleigh, which will then return it to the Sheriff’s Office for pick up.

During the process an applicant must also sign an affidavit concerning one's mental health. If the applicant has ever been involuntarily institutionalized and found to be mentally incompetent by a judge, the permit will be denied. A person who has committed themselves will not have a record showing the commitment and hypothetically could still be issued a permit.

Once a permit has been obtained, the citizen may carry a concealed handgun out of site from the public, but must adhere to certain guidelines according to the North Carolina Department of Justice. Despite lawfully being allowed to carry a concealed firearm, some places in the state still outlaw their presence.

For example, according to N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper, concealed handguns may not be carried:

• In law enforcement or correctional facilities such as a prison;

• In any space occupied by state or federal employees, including state and federal courthouses;

• In schools or on school grounds;

• In areas of assemblies, parades, funerals or demonstrations;

• In any place where alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed (such as some restaurants);

• In any area where concealed handguns are prohibited by federal law;

• In any place of business that has posted a sign banning concealed weapons on its premises;

• By any person while consuming alcohol or while under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substances (unless obtained legally and taken as directed by a physician).

When in situations that would legally allow a person to carry concealed, the person must carry the permit and a valid form of identification at all times. If approached or addressed by any law enforcement officer in N.C., the person must disclose the fact that they have a valid concealed handgun permit, inform the officer that they are in possession of a concealed handgun, and present both the permit and identification at the request of the officer.

The act of concealing may also become blurred when transporting a firearm in a vehicle. If an individual does not possess a concealed carry permit, extreme care must be taken so as not to violate North Carolina statutes.

“The person's accessibility to the weapon is of prime importance,” says Cooper. “It is for these reasons, that when transporting a weapon in a vehicle, even greater care must be exercised to ensure that the weapon is not concealed and within the ready access to an occupant of the vehicle.”

Most states honor N.C.'s concealed handgun permits, but it is important to know each state's individual laws concerning them since they may differ. States that do not honor the permit are:

Oregon; California; Minnesota; Illinois; New York; Maine; Massachusetts; Connecticut; Rhode Island; New Jersey; Maryland; District of Columbia; Hawaii.

When buying a handgun, said buyer must obtain a permit in order to purchase the firearm regardless of whether the gun is sold by a dealer or a private party according to the NCRPA. To obtain the purchase permit, an applicant is not required to attend a training course, however the applicant must complete a form with his/her information on it. There is also an Affidavit attached that must be completed and notorized. The affidavit has most of the questions that are listed on the Concealed Handgun Permit stating that the applicant is qualified to obtain the permit to purchase. These permits cost $5 each and an individual is limited to five permits per application. Anybody seeking a permit may be denied by the Sheriff under the “Good Moral Character” clause as authorized under N.C. General Statute 14-404(a) (2) which states:

Upon application, the sheriff shall issue the license or permit to a resident of that county once,

(2) Fully satisfied himself or herself by affidavits, oral evidence, or otherwise, as to the good moral character of the applicant.

“As long as an individual has a good moral character and does not have anything that would prevent them from purchasing a gun then they can be issued one,” said Sheriff Robert Holland.

Some disqualifying factors may be whether the person has a past that involves domestic violence, alcohol or drug abuse, as well as an attached list of offenses that can be located on the third page of the initial application found at the Sheriff's Department. These factors are separate from the federally imposed law denying possession of firearms to people who have been convicted of felonies in the past.

In 2012, from Jan. 1 until March 11, there were 176 Gun Purchase Permits issued. The department saw that number increase significantly in 2013 during the same time period by 202 totaling 378 permits issued.

According to Lau, of the crimes that have been committed in Macon County, the only ones that involved a firearm are the few homicides that the area has seen.

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