Taken from North Carolina Firearms Laws, published by the NCDOJ.
According to this, they must do the NICS check. He does not have to have a carry permit or a purchase permit. The NICS check takes all of five minutes, not three to five days.D. Temporary Transfers of Firearms
The transfer of a pawned firearm from a licensed pawnbroker back to the owner of the firearm is subject to the requirements of the Brady Law. A NICS inquiry, or an alternative, must therefore be accomplished prior to the redemption of a pawned firearm. North Carolina law does not require the owner to procure a handgun permit when redeeming the firearm.
It sounds like the pawn shop is giving him the run around and refusing to return his pistol.. He should go there and demand, in no uncertain terms, that they conduct the NICS check and return his pistol. Either way, I wouldn't go back to that store.