Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2023 ‘Preemption of Local Laws in North Carolina.’ Other Laws & Policies. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 3 December
Local Authority to Regulate Firearms in North Carolina
North Carolina's preemption statute, North Carolina General Statutes § 14-409.40, declares the regulation of firearms to be a general, statewide concern, and precludes all local regulation except as specified in the statute.
Section 14-409.40(b) specifically prohibits all local governments from regulating "in any manner the possession, ownership, storage, transfer, sale, purchase, licensing, or registration of firearms, firearms ammunition, components of firearms, dealers in firearms, or dealers in handgun components or parts" unless otherwise permitted by statute. The exceptions to this statute are as follows:
- With respect to firearms sales, cities and counties may enact non-discriminatory regulations or prohibitions of such sales at locations if there is a "lawful, general, similar regulation or prohibition of commercial activities" at the location.);
- Cities and counties may enact general zoning plans that prohibit commercial activity within a fixed distance of a school or other educational institution without a special use permit issued for a commercial activity found not to pose a danger to the public health and safety of those attending that school or institution.);
- Cities and counties may apply the authority they are given under certain specified state statutes to regulate or prohibit possession of firearms in, or on the grounds or in the parking areas of, publicly owned buildings, public parks, or recreation areas. Section 14-409.40(f). Persons are not prohibited by section 14-409.40(f) from lawfully storing firearms within a motor vehicle when the vehicle is in any of these public locations;
- A local government may adopt an ordinance to prohibit, by posting, the carrying of a concealed handgun on a municipal and county playground, athletic field, swimming pool, or athletic facility, although a concealed handgun permittee may still secure a handgun within the trunk, glove box, or other enclosed compartment or area of a locked vehicle. Local governments are expressly prohibited from enacting other ordinances, rules, or regulations concerning legally carrying a concealed handgun.;
- Cities and counties may regulate the transportation, carrying, and possession of firearms by their employees in the course of that employment.);
- Cities and counties continue to have emergency powers as specified by statute.;
- Counties may regulate or prohibit the discharge of firearms at any time or place except when lawfully used to take animals or in defense of person or property.;
- Cities may regulate or prohibit the discharge of firearms at any time or place except when used in defense of person or property.;
- Cities and counties may regulate the display of firearms on public roads, sidewalks, alleys or other public property.);
- Cities and counties may regulate or prohibit the sale, possession or use of pellet guns.); and
- Cities and counties may levy privilege license taxes on firearms dealers.).
Local governments may not regulate firearms shows with restrictions more stringent than those imposed on shows of other types of items. There are no published cases interpreting section 14-409.40 or its exceptions.
A sport shooting range that is operated and is not in violation of existing law at the time of the enactment of an ordinance and that was in existence on September 1, 1994 shall be permitted to continue in operation even if the operation of the range at a later date does not conform to the new ordinance or an amendment to an existing ordinance, provided the current primary use of the range still represents the activity previously engaged in at the range. This provision and the remaining provisions of the Sport Shooting Range Act of 1997, N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-409.45 - 14-409.47 do not prohibit a local government from regulating the location and construction of a sport shooting range…
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