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 Application Process for Handgun & Crossbow Purchase Permits

(Application can be downloaded from our forms menu on the left)

  1. Applications for a pistol purchase permit can be obtained, by Orange County Citizens, at the Sheriff's Office, on 106 East Margaret Lane, in Hillsborough, 27278. Come to the Sheriff's front desk and request a "Pistol Purchase Permit Application".

  2. After picking up your application, complete and return it to the Sheriff's front desk. Background checks will be conducted to satisfy this Office's requirements for good moral character. The Application contains four forms for your Orange County references, who need to be residents of Orange County, but not relatives. These forms/affidavits need to be returned with the Application, having all been signed by your References, in the presence of a Notary Public.

  3. If you know any Orange County law enforcement officers, please list them on the notarized forms/affidavits.  Please return the index card, addressed to you, with the appropriate postage, with the Application. This index/post card will be sent to you, notifying you that your application has been approved.  

  4. Your application, the three notarized affidavits and the self-addressed, stamped index/post card must be submitted together, to the Sheriff.

    • Please allow us at least 30 days to process your application. If you have an urgent need for the permit, you may call and ask if your permit is ready.  However, we prefer you give us at least 30 days to process your application.  Please do not call to ask if your permit has been approved.

    • Only you can pick up the permit, between the hours of 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

    • A $5.00 fee will be charged at pickup.

  • Pistol purchase permits are issued to citizens for the following four reasons:

  1. Protection of the home

  2. Target shooting

  3. Weapons collecting

  4. Hunting

  • Before a permit can or will be issued to anyone:

  1. You must be 21 years of age.

  2. You must currently be a resident of Orange County.

  3. You must have been a resident of Orange County for at least one year prior to the date of application.

NOTE: If you are a student and reside for only part of the year in Orange County, you should obtain a permit to purchase a pistol from the Sheriff's Office in your county of legal residence.


  1. You have any criminal charges pending or criminal convictions of Assault, or Threats With Weapons or otherwise, whether Felony or Misdemeanor.

  2. You are under the authority of Domestic Violence Protective Order or Ex Parte Order.

  3. You are a fugitive from justice.

  4. You have any criminal charges pending or criminal convictions of Marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or other controlled substance.

  5. You have been adjudicated mentally defective or have been committed to a mental institution.

  6. You have been discharged from armed forces under any condition other than Honorable.

  7. You are in the United States illegally.

  8. You have renounced your US citizenship.

  9. You have one or more convictions for DWI within three years of date of application.

  • If you submit the application, further background checks will be conducted to satisfy the requirements of good moral character.

  • The Sheriff will review any prior criminal charges or convictions. It is within the Sheriff's discretion to deny or approve pistol purchase.

NOTE: On August 11th, 2004, the Governor signed into law that citizens with a CCW (Concealed Carry Weapons Permit) can purchase handguns through dealers, using their CCW. It is no longer necessary for these citizens, who have already been approved to carry a concealed weapon and have been fingerprinted, to come to the Sheriff's Office to obtain a Pistol Purchase Permit. 

14-403. Permits issued by sheriff; form of permit; expiration of permit.

  14‑403.  Permit issued by sheriff; form of permit; expiration of permit.

The sheriffs of any and all counties of this State shall issue to any person, firm, or corporation in any county a license or permit to purchase or receive any weapon mentioned in this Article from any person, firm, or corporation offering to sell or dispose of the weapon. The license or permit shall expire five years from the date of issuance. The license or permit shall be in the following form:

North Carolina ,

______________ County .

I, ______________, Sheriff of said County, do hereby certify that I have conducted a criminal background check of the applicant, ______________ whose place of residence is ______________ in ______________ (or) in ______________ Township, ______________ County, North Carolina, and have received no information to indicate that it would be a violation of State or federal law for the applicant to purchase, transfer, receive, or possess a handgun. The applicant has further satisfied me as to his, her (or) their good moral character. Therefore, a license or permit is issued to ______________ to purchase one pistol from any person, firm or corporation authorized to dispose of the same.

This license or permit expires five years from its date of issuance.

This ____ day of ____________, ________.



 (1919, c. 197, s. 2; C.S., s. 5107; 1959, c. 1073, s. 2; 1981 (Reg. Sess., 1982), c. 1395, s. 3; 1995, c. 487, s. 1; 1999‑456, s. 59.)

14-404. Issuance or refusal of permit; appeal from refusal; grounds for refusal; sheriff's fee.


14‑404.  Issuance or refusal of permit; appeal from refusal; grounds for refusal; sheriff's fee.

(a)        Upon application, the sheriff shall issue the license or permit to a resident of that county, unless the purpose of the permit is for collecting, in which case a sheriff can issue a permit to a nonresident, when the sheriff has done all of the following:

(1)        Verified, before the issuance of a permit, by a criminal history background investigation that it is not a violation of State or federal law for the applicant to purchase, transfer, receive, or possess a handgun. The sheriff shall determine the criminal and background history of any applicant by accessing computerized criminal history records as maintained by the State Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, by conducting a national criminal history records check, by conducting a check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), and by conducting a criminal history check through the Administrative Office of the Courts.

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

(3)        Fully satisfied himself or herself that the applicant desires the possession of the weapon mentioned for (i) the protection of the home, business, person, family or property, (ii) target shooting, (iii) collecting, or (iv) hunting.

(b)        If the sheriff is not fully satisfied, the sheriff may, for good cause shown, decline to issue the license or permit and shall provide to the applicant within seven days of the refusal a written statement of the reason(s) for the refusal. An appeal from the refusal shall lie by way of petition to the chief judge of the district court for the district in which the application was filed. The determination by the court, on appeal, shall be upon the facts, the law, and the reasonableness of the sheriff's refusal, and shall be final.

(c)        A permit may not be issued to the following persons:

(1)        One who is under an indictment or information for or has been convicted in any state, or in any court of the United States , of a felony (other than an offense pertaining to antitrust violations, unfair trade practices, or restraints of trade). However, a person who has been convicted of a felony in a court of any state or in a court of the United States and who is later pardoned may obtain a permit, if the purchase or receipt of a pistol or crossbow permitted in this Article does not violate a condition of the pardon.

(2)        One who is a fugitive from justice.

(3)        One who is an unlawful user of or addicted to marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, or narcotic drug (as defined in 21 U.S.C. section 802).

(4)        One who has been adjudicated mentally incompetent or has been committed to any mental institution.

(5)        One who is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States .

(6)        One who has been discharged from the armed forces under dishonorable conditions.

(7)        One who, having been a citizen of the United States , has renounced his or her citizenship.

(8)        One who is subject to a court order that:

a.         Was issued after a hearing of which the person received actual notice, and at which the person had an opportunity to participate;

b.         Restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of the person or child of the intimate partner of the person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and

c.         Includes a finding that the person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of the intimate partner or child; or by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury.

(d)        Nothing in this Article shall apply to officers authorized by law to carry firearms if the officers identify themselves to the vendor or donor as being officers authorized by law to carry firearms and state that the purpose for the purchase of the firearms is directly related to the law officers' official duties.

(e)        The sheriff shall charge for the sheriff's services upon issuing the license or permit a fee of five dollars ($5.00).

(f)         Each applicant for a license or permit shall be informed by the sheriff within 30 days of the date of the application whether the license or permit will be granted or denied and, if granted, the license or permit shall be immediately issued to the applicant.

(g)        An applicant shall not be ineligible to receive a permit under subdivision (c)(4) of this section because of involuntary commitment to mental health services if the individual's rights have been restored under G.S. 122C‑54.1.  (1919, c. 197, s. 3; C.S., s. 5108; 1959, c. 1073, s. 2; 1969, c. 73; 1981 (Reg. Sess., 1982), c. 1395, s. 1; 1987, c. 518, s. 1; 1995, c. 487, s. 2; 2006‑39, s. 1; 2006‑264, s. 4; 2008‑210, s. 3(a); 2009‑570, s. 7.)