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West Virginia Gun Control Laws

West Virginia has selective gun laws that allow for many freedoms when buying or carrying a firearm. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the right to have guns, but each state can make its own additional laws.

No matter where you stand on the right to bear arms, you should understand the law as it applies in your state.

West Virginia Gun Laws

The following table outlines the main gun control laws in West Virginia.

Relevant Statutes (Laws)

West Virginia Code Chapter 61, Article 7: Dangerous Weapons, Sections 61-7-1 through 61-7-17

Illegal Arms

West Virginia does not prohibit specific firearms. However, federal law does prohibit certain firearms and accessories.

Waiting Period

West Virginia has no waiting period requirement for the purchase of a firearm.

Who May Not Own

It is illegal for the following people to possess a firearm in West Virginia:
  • People who have been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year
  • People who are habitually addicted to alcohol
  • People who are unlawful users of or habitually addicted to any controlled substance
  • People who have been adjudicated to be mentally incompetent or who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution
  • People who are aliens illegally or unlawfully in the United States
  • People who have been discharged from the armed forces under dishonorable conditions
  • People who are subject to a domestic violence protective order
  • People who have been convicted of a misdemeanor offense of domestic assault or battery

License Required?

West Virginia does not require a license to own a firearm.

Concealed Carry License Required?

  • A concealed weapons license is not required for people 21 or older.
  • West Virginians older than 21 may obtain a concealed weapons license if they want to carry a concealed weapon in another state that has reciprocity with West Virginia.
  • It is illegal for a person under 21 years of age to carry a concealed deadly weapon without a state license.
  • Concealed weapons license may only be issued for pistols and revolvers.

Open Carried Allowed?

Open carry is legal in West Virginia. No license or permit is required for open carry.

Eligibility for a Concealed Carry License

A concealed weapons license is not required if you are older than 21, but you will need one if you want to carry a concealed weapon in a state with reciprocity with West Virginia. People between the ages of 18 and 21 can legally carry a concealed weapon if they obtain a provisional concealed weapons permit.The requirements for a concealed weapons license are:
  • The applicant must be 21 or older (18 to 21 for a provisional license)
  • The application must be a United States citizen or a legal resident with a valid government-issued ID
  • The applicant is not addicted to alcohol, a controlled substance, or a drug and is not an unlawful user as evidenced by, in the previous 3 years, residential or court-ordered treatment for alcoholism or alcohol detoxification or drug treatment or two or more convictions for driving while under the influence or driving while impaired
  • The applicant has not been convicted of a felony unless the conviction has been expunged or set aside, or the applicant's civil rights have been restored or the applicant has been unconditionally pardoned for the offense
  • The applicant has not been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of violence in the previous five years
  • The applicant has not been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or a misdemeanor offense of assault or battery, in which the victim was a current or former spouse, current or former sexual or intimate partner, person with whom the defendant cohabits or has cohabited, a parent or guardian, the defendant's child or ward or a member of the defendant's household at the time of the offense
  • The applicant is not under indictment for a felony offense or is not currently serving a sentence of confinement, parole, probation, or other court-ordered supervision imposed by a court of any jurisdiction, is the subject of an emergency or temporary domestic violence protective order, or is the subject of a final domestic violence protective order entered by a court of any jurisdiction
  • The applicant has not been adjudicated to be mentally incompetent or involuntarily committed to a mental institution.
  • The applicant is not prohibited from receiving, possessing, or transporting a firearm
  • The applicant has completed an approved training course for handling and firing the weapon
  • The applicant authorizes the sheriff of the county, or his or her designee, to conduct an investigation relative to the information contained in the application

Machine Gun Laws

It is illegal to carry, transport, or possess any machine gun, submachine gun, or any other fully automatic weapon unless a person has fully complied with all applicable federal statutes, rules, and regulations.

Penalties for Illegal Firearm Possession

  • Penalties for violating West Virginia's gun laws depend on the law that was violated and the offender's criminal record.
  • Possessing a gun despite being prohibited by law from possessing a gun is a misdemeanor punishable by 90 days to 1 year in jail and a fine of $100 to $1,000.
  • If the offender carries a concealed firearm, it is a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to 3 years and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • Possessing a gun when prohibited and the offender has a prior felony crime of violence, felony sexual offense, or felony drug offense is a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to 5 years and a fine up to $5,000.
  • If the offender carries a concealed firearm, it is a felony punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine up to $10,000.

Penalties for Illegal Possession on or Near School Grounds

It is illegal to possess a firearm or other deadly weapon on a school bus or on the grounds of any primary or secondary educational facility of any type.The exceptions include:
  • The facility has adopted a written policy allowing for possession of firearms or other deadly weapons.
  • At a school-sponsored function that is taking place in a specific area that is owned, rented, or leased by the West Virginia Department of Education, the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission, a county school board, or local public school for the actual period of time the function is occurring.
A person violating this law is guilty of a felony and faces imprisonment for a period of 2 to 10 years and a fine up to $5,000.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

Related Resources

Talk to a West Virginia Attorney

If you have questions about gun laws, whether you've been charged with violating the law or are hoping to get your gun rights restored, you should speak to an experienced local criminal defense lawyer.

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