Open Carry in North Carolina

Cory Gurganus

New member
Im 19 and live in North Carolina. Ive been trying to do some research and only find vague answers. I want to open carry and not sure of the laws. I have found that federal OC age is 18, but not sure where/how to find if I can OC in the area I live in. I live in New Hanover county, and a criminal justice student at my local college. I want to exercise my rights to do so, but legally at the same time. Any helpful answers would be greatly appreciated.


New member
Open carry in NC is 'permitted' except where local laws prohibit the display of firearms. Open carry is not specifically legally permitted, actually, it just isn't specifically prohibited either, so the reason you find vague answers is that the law is rather vague.

Cary and Chapel Hill are two areas that prohibit display, but I only know of those since I live in the area, there may be more. State firearms laws can be found at the State Department of Justice website, Link Removed

See page 34, where it says "North Carolina law does not currently address specific age requirements for the purchase of weapons. Rather, it looks to the federal standards for such restrictions." Under federal law you cannot purchase a handgun from a Firearms Dealer at age 19. NC requires the sheriff of the county to issue a handgun purchase permit, however again from the NCDoJ website: "Therefore, while a pistol purchase permit can be issued to an individual 18 years of age or older, such persons aged 18, 19, and 20 could not use the permit to purchase a handgun from a federally licensed firearms dealer."

I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not sure exactly where that leaves you. To ME, that seems to mean you can legally possess a handgun (such as a gift or private purchase), you just can't BUY one from an FFL, but again, I'm not a lawyer. And if you can legally possess a handgun, you can, in theory, legally open carry. There are certainly some places that would cause more trouble than other places.

I am (very considerably) over 19, and sometimes I open carry in Raleigh suburbs (other than the town of Cary) and have gotten a few looks but no one freaked out and I've never been hassled by the police.

Edit: I should also note since you're a student (I'm faculty, so I'm familiar with the laws concerning campus) that you cannot open or concealed carry on any college campus, with or without a permit, although you may have a handgun (not a long gun) locked in your vehicle on campus if you have a Concealed Handgun Permit, but ONLY if you have the CHP.


New member
I live in Union County and I see people open carrying all the time. In fact, just this weekend there we a few people, some considerably younger than me OC at the Gander Mt store in Monroe. I called the sheriff's dept up a couple of weeks ago and spoke to a LT and he told me open carry was perfectly legal so long as it was not posted that it was not allowed or you start freaking people out with the site of a gun on your hip. With that in mind I started open carrying around my house and street to gauge how those immediately around me would react. So far so good and nothing negative to report.

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