Yes it is a legal requirement to register any handgun ( this rule does not apply to long guns unless they are machine guns) within Durham. The original law was written into House Bill 566 in 1935, Chapter 157. The rule seemed a little vague as to whether it requires you be a resident or just have possession to be affected by the statue. You must register within 10 days of your purchase or taking ownership. If you sell the item the new buyer is required to register in their name. Failure to do so is considered a misdemeanor.
On the idea that if you open carry do you need the permit with you. It depends on whether you would like to let local Law Enforcement hold your firearm for 10 days until you appear before them with the registration. The law allows them to confiscate your firearm if you have no proof of registration for a period of ten days, after which they "shall destroy the same within a the year" if you can not produce proof of registration.
The Clerk can in writing require that you present your firearm for registration ( The clerk of the superior court may in his discretion require that the pistol.........be presented to him for registration")
DO NOT SHOW UP AT THE COURTHOUSE WITH YOUR FIREARM. IF THEY WANT TO SEE IT THEY WILL SEND YOU A REQUEST IN WRITING!
With regards to the law being struck down or invalid I have found no proof of that. The "Shephard's North Carolina Citations" show no records of case law regarding this statute. Therefore I assume that it has not been tested in a court of law.
With regards to the 14-409.40 Uniformity Laws it is clearly stated that "Unless otherwise permitted by statute, no county or municipality, by ordinance, resolution or other enactment, shall regulate 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.".
Durham has been given the authority to require registration per the 1935 HB 566 Chapter 157. For clarification I spoke with John J. Aldridge III (Special Deputy Attorney General) last week and he assured me that this is still a valid law. Attorney General Roy Coopers document "North Carolina Firearms Laws" revised December 2007 also states on page 34 clearly that this is the Attorney Generals understanding.