What To Do If Your Pistol Purchase Permit Application Is Denied
Unlike other types of firearms, to buy a pistol in North Caroline you must first get a Pistol Purchase Permit. If the Sheriff’s department denies your application, which can be for a myriad of reasons, it is important to consult with an attorney to know what your options are going forward. This denial is not necessarily final—you can file what’s commonly known as a gun permit appeal in court to fight the Sheriff’s department’s decision.
There are two different types of gun permits in North Carolina: Pistol Purchase Permits and Concealed Carry Permits (“CCW Permits”). Each permit has its own requirements and factors that can disqualify you, and the method of appealing a denial is also different for each. For example, for Purchase Permits (governed by North Carolina General Statute § 14-404), the Sheriff can only look at your criminal record going back five (5) years from the date of your application in deciding whether to grant or deny your application. (However, it is important to note that if you have almost a felony conviction on your record, that will require a separate process to Restore Your Firearm Rights.) In addition, Pistol Purchase Permit appeals are filed in your local Superior Court, unlike CCW Permits which must be filed in the District Court.
Superior Court is much more formal than District Court. It is a higher court, and unlike District Court, it is a “court of record,” meaning that all hearings are transcribed by a court reporter. In addition, Purchase Permits have a “good moral character” requirement—and the meaning of that term is as vague as it sounds, which means the Sheriff has wide discretion in considering Pistol Purchase Permits. Fortunately, with the assistance of an attorney who handles gun permit denials, you stand a much better chance at proving to the court that the Sheriff’s decision was incorrect. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to appealing a gun permit denial, so discussing your case’s specific facts with an attorney is of the utmost importance so they can guide you through an individualized plan of action.