West Virginia Gun Laws

Gun Laws in West Virginia

Residents of West Virginia are not required to have a permit before purchasing any kind of long gun or handgun. Registration is also not required of residents for long guns or handguns. West Virginia does not have an assault weapons law for either long guns or handguns. Owners are not required to be licensed to have rifles, handguns, or shotguns.

West Virginia LawsResidents in the state of West Virginia are not required to have permits to carry long guns but are required to have permits to carry handguns. This includes revolvers and pistols. Concealed weapons permits are not necessary to carry revolvers or pistols in a personally owned home or place of business.

West Virginia allows each city to create local restrictions for firearms that overshadows state law and federal laws for firearms. This is allowed for both handguns and long guns. No NFA weapons are restricted in this state, and all federal peaceable journey laws are observed.

West Virginia is surrounded by Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia. Due to the positioning of the state, it is often included in multiple regions of the U.S., including the South and the Mid-Atlantic. Open carry is legal in West Virginia at age 18 even without a license to carry.

West Virginia Possession Laws

In order to possess a concealed weapons permit, individuals must first pass a required exam. Concealed weapons permits are issued through the county sheriff in the county of residency. This exam will insure that the carrier is aware of the federal laws, the state laws, and the local laws in regards to firearms as well as the competency for handling firearms.

Open carry is also allowed in West Virginia. Some local governments are allowed to restrict open carrying in each city, which will trump all other state and federal laws with regards to open carrying. The cities of Charleston and Dunbar have extra restrictions for open carry. The castle doctrine came into enactment as of the tenth of April 2008.

Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

West Virginia permits anyone who may legally possess a firearm to carry it unloaded in a motor vehicle, provided it is clearly visible from the outside. From July 1 to September 30 each year, unloaded guns must also be secured in a case when carried during certain times of the day.

Carry in Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

Yes. West Virginia has no law prohibiting the carrying of a firearm into establishments that serve alcohol. However, if the owner or manager of the establishment requests that You disarm or leave, You must do so. Failure to obey such signs or verbal warnings constitutes trespass.

Self-defense Laws

West Virginia has both Castle Doctrine and SYG laws. There is no duty to retreat from anywhere You have a legal right to be. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, or to stop the unlawful & forcible entry into Your dwelling if You reasonably believe the intruder intends to harm an occupant or commit a felony inside the dwelling.

Constitutional Carry

As of 5/24/16, West Virginia now permits anyone who is at least 21 years old and not prohibited from owning a firearm to carry a handgun without a permit, openly or concealed. Possession and open carry of handguns is legal at age 18, but adults between the ages of 18 and 21 must obtain a permit in order to carry a concealed firearm. Persons under the age of 18 may carry on family premises or on other property with permission of the owner or lessee.

Open Carry

Open carry is legal. A permit to carry is available, but is not required to carry a handgun either openly or concealed. Places as listed in the “Criminal Provisions” above apply to those who open carry. The minimum age for open carry is 18.

Reciprocal Carry

West Virginia allows anyone 21 or older to carry a handgun without a permit, concealed or openly. West Virginia now allows adults between the ages of 18-20 to apply for a provisional concealed carry permit, which requires applicants to undergo firearms training, unless applicants are 21 and up.

By statute, West Virginia will recognize another state’s license to carry if that state recognizes West Virginia’s license:

“A holder of a valid out-of-state permit or license to carry a concealed handgun, as issued by another state with which the State of West Virginia has executed a reciprocity agreement, shall be recognized as valid in this state, if the following conditions are met: (1) The permit or license holder is 21 years or older; (2) The permit or license is in his or her immediate possession; (3) The permit or license holder is not a resident of the State of West Virginia; and, (4) The State of West Virginia has executed a valid and effective reciprocity agreement with the issuing state pertaining to the carrying and verification of concealed handgun licenses and permits issued in the respective states. (b) A holder of a valid permit or license from another state who is authorized to carry a concealed handgun in this state pursuant to provisions of this section is subject to the same laws and restrictions with respect to carrying a concealed handgun as a resident of West Virginia who is so permitted, and must carry the concealed handgun in compliance with the laws of this state.” [http://gunla.ws/wv3]

Anyone contemplating reciprocal carry should check with the official list maintained by the West Virginia AG at the point in time the reciprocal carry is to occur. West Virginia’s reciprocity agreement can be viewed online.

Firearms Felony Laws

Submachine guns, machine guns, and fully automatics weapons are illegal inside West Virginia state lines. No waiting period is necessary for the purchase of firearms. Those who possess or carry firearms in the proximity of school grounds will be charged with felony offenses. Though it is by constitutional right that United State citizens have the right to bear arms, some individuals can lose these rights. Those that lose their rights to bear arms are deemed safety hindrances due to their personal history.

Certain restrictions apply for who is permitted to possess firearms. An individual who have been convicted of a felony offense is not permitted by state law to possess or own a firearm. Individuals who have been dishonorably discharged from any of the armed forces are not permitted to own or possess any form of firearm.

Those who have been deemed mentally incompetent, either through commitment to a mental institution or otherwise, are also ineligible from owning or possessing firearms. Individuals who have habitual use of narcotics, illegal drugs, or alcohol are ineligible from this privilege. Individuals convicted of domestic violence offenses, both misdemeanors and felonies, are ineligible. The last of those who are not eligible to possess or own firearms are those who are under the age of eighteen and are named as minors.

Criminal Provisions

Under West Virginia law, a license to carry a handgun is not valid in any of the following places or circumstances:

  • Brandish or use a firearm in a way or manner to cause, or threaten, a breach of the peace
  • On any school bus
  • State capital complex
  • Courthouse
  • Jails, detention facilities or State Division of Corrections facilities
  • A public or private elementary or secondary education building, grounds, structure, or facility, or at any school-sponsored function, unless carry is necessary for a valid educational purpose with permission from the board of education or principal or if You are dropping off or picking up students (firearm must not leave the vehicle)
  • Where the owner, or lessee of private property has prohibited the carrying of any firearm

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