Character references as I know of in Durham county (and they asked for 5), were for PURCHASE PERMITS not CONCEALED HANDGUN PERMITS. Which was another prime reason for me to get one in this ambiguous Open Carry state.
As I know of (cause I know I didn't give them any), character references for the NCCHP don't have to be adhered to once you take your NCCHP firearms course & pay your money to the Sheriff so they can ascertain your background status, which is what they are going to do anyways.
My take? Sounds like another small county thinking they have the power of opinion enforcement, not law enforcement, and you had too much intelligence & savvy to back down to that backwater nonsense. They just can't merge requirements for one type of permit with another. And doing a little research into the permits as I've seen on the net from the local county government sites, it is ONLY (from what I've seen) the PISTOL PURCHASE PERMIT, not the CONCEALED HANDGUN PERMIT that REQUIRES references. Now, as it seems, if that county wanted to add on references, sure, okay, but NOT LEGALLY UNDER STATE LAW. Once again, opinion enforcement, not law enforcement.
Good thing this is a shall-issue state, huh?
The link for my search results.