Confusion in North Carolina regarding Machine Gun Ownership

January 2, 2013
|

We have received numerous calls and emails regarding the December 2010 change in the laws in NC based on the poorly worded changes to NC:

NCGS Section 288.8 (b)(5) allows MG ownership for:

Persons who lawfully possess or own a weapon as defined in subsection (c) of this section in compliance with 26 U.S.C. Chapter 53, §§ 5801‑5871. Nothing in this subdivision shall limit the discretion of the sheriff in executing the paperwork required by the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for such person to obtain the weapon.

NCGS Section 14-409(b) provides in pertinent part:

a person who lawfully possesses or owns a weapon as defined by Subsection (a) of this section in compliance with 26 U.S.C. Chapter 53, §§ 5801‑5871. Nothing in this subdivision shall limit the discretion of the sheriff in executing the paperwork required by the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for such person to obtain the weapon.

The problem is that these provisions don't seem to allow acquisition, only continued ownership or possession. However, the statutes go on to say that sheriff can refuse to sign off to on the forms required to obtain ownership.

I have spoken to several NC lawyers about this, they all agree that the safest thing to do until further clarification develops is the have the sheriff sign off with the Machine Gun Permit which is different than the CLEO signature required for individual ownership of Title II firearms.

In addition, it appears that if the machine gun was lawfully purchased in another state, there would not be the need to obtain the sheriff's signature on a machine gun permit to purchase a machine gun as it was already owned.

This only applies to Machine Guns and not other Title II firearms. With the upcoming proposed changes to federal laws regarding assault weapons, it is still a good idea to transfer all existing firearms into a Gun Trust in states like NC that permit such transfers.