08-04-10-woman-with-gun.gifBuying a handgun is a big decision to make. It’s not as easy as going down to your local gun store and picking your favorite. There are legal steps that you must complete, and there are safety steps that you should take before you take a weapon into your home.

First and foremost, in order to purchase a handgun in the State of North Carolina, you must apply for a gun permit. The permit request must be placed at the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office in the Special Services Office. Pistol permits are $5. You can download the application at www.ccsonc.org/specialservices.htm.

The permit requires you answer personal question such as your address, height, weight, Social Security number and distinguishing marks. The second section of the permit serves as a background check. Those who have been convicted of a felony, dishonorably discharged from the military, renounced their citizenship, or convicted of domestic violence charges will not be able to receive a gun permit.

After the permit is filed at the Special Services Office, the staff will run a background check, which will include a criminal history check. If it can be established that you are of good moral character and that you desire the gun for the “protection of the home, business, person, family or property, target shooting, collecting or hunting” your permit will be issued.

Your permit may be denied for good cause, and if it is denied, you should receive a written statement of the reason of denial within seven days. The license must be approved or disapproved within 30 days.

After your permit is approved, you should go to a licensed gun shop and try several fi rearms before you purchase one. If the sales staff does not seem knowledgeable about the types and selections of guns on hand, you should try another store. Once you determine the type of weapon you like, you should try it on a range before you purchase it. Guns, even of the same caliber, handle differently. You should find a gun that you feel comfortable with, and that you can handle with a degree of skill.

If you are not familiar with guns, you should take a basic gun course. Many types of these classes are offered in the community. A Google search will give you a wide number to choose from. Ensure that the instructor is a certified firearm’s instructor and ask about the content of instruction.

North Carolina is an open carry state, so you can carry your weapon in public as long as it is in the open. There are some places, like schools, parks and bars, where weapons of any kind are not permitted. Know the law. Carrying your gun in your purse or in the console of your car does not meet the law. It must be visible.

If you do not want to open carry, then you must apply for a Concealed Carry Permit. Concealed Carry Permits may also be obtained at the Special Services Office. The application is also on the website. There is a $90 fee. You must complete a Concealed Carry class in order to obtain the permit.

Once you get your permit, there are some things you should know:

1. Your permit to carry a concealed handgun must be carried along with valid identification whenever the handgun is being carried concealed.

2. When approached or addressed by any officer, you must disclose the fact that you have a valid concealed handgun permit and inform the officer that you are in possession of a concealed handgun. You should not attempt to draw or display either your weapon or your permit to the officer unless and until he directs you to do so. Your hands are to be kept in plain view and you are not to make any sudden movements.

3. At the request of any law enforcement officer, you must display both the permit and valid identification.

4. You may not, with or without a permit, carry a concealed weapon while consuming alcohol or while alcohol or any controlled substances are in your blood, unless the controlled substance was obtained legally and taken in therapeutically appropriate amounts.

5. You must notify the sheriff who issued the permit of any address change within thirty (30) days of the change of address.

6. If a permit is lost or destroyed, you must notify the sheriff who issued the permit and you may receive a duplicate permit by submitting a notarized statement to that effect along with the required fee. Do not carry a handgun without it.

7. Even with a permit, you may not carry a concealed handgun in the following areas:

a. Any law enforcement or correctional facility

b. Any space occupied by state or federal employees

c. A financial institution

d. Any premise where the carrying of a concealed handgun is prohibited by the posting of a statement by the controller of the premise

e. Educational property

f. Areas of assemblies, parades, funerals, or demonstrations

g. Places where alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed

h. State occupied property

i. Any state or federal courthouse

j. In any area prohibited by federal law

k. Any local government building if the local government had adopted an ordinance and posted signs prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons

8. If you are in a vehicle and stopped by a law enforcement officer, you should put both hands on the steering wheel, announce you are in possession of a concealed handgun and state where you have it concealed, and that you are in possession of a permit. Do not remove your hands from the wheel until instructed to do so by the officer.

If you meet all of the legal requirements, there are still some things you need to know. North Carolina is a Castle Doctrine state and has a stand-your-ground law. In short, this law permits the use of deadly physical force against an intruder in your home. The law, N.C. General Statute 14-51.1 reads: Use of deadly physical force against an intruder. (a) A lawful occupant within a home or other place of residence is justified in using any degree of force that the occupant reasonably believes is necessary, including deadly force, against an intruder to prevent a forcible entry into the home or residence or to terminate the intruder’s unlawful entry (i) if the occupant reasonably apprehends that the intruder may kill or inflict serious bodily harm to the occupant or others in the home or residence, or (ii) if the occupant reasonably believes that the intruder intends to commit a felony in the home or residence. (b) A lawful occupant within a home or other place of residence does not have a duty to retreat from an intruder in the circumstances described in this section. (c) This section is not intended to repeal, expand, or limit any other defense that may exist under the common law.

It is important that you understand what is considered deadly force. This type of information can be gained in your gun classes.

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