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West Virginia Gun Laws

Posted in Safety Tips on July 22, 2021

The right to bear arms comes with rules, regulations and limitations according to federal and state laws. Each state has unique firearm laws governing how, when and why a citizen may own this type of weapon. It is extremely important to understand West Virginia’s current gun laws if you wish to carry in the state. Violating a gun law could lead to significant criminal charges, such as fines and jail time. Violating a gun law could also lead to a serious personal injury.

General Firearm Laws in West Virginia

West Virginia Code Chapter 61, Article 7 contains the state’s main gun laws. West Virginia is relatively lax with its gun laws compared to other states. It is a constitutional carry state. An individual 18 or older may carry a firearm provided he or she does not fall under one of the exceptions to the rule. Qualified individuals do not need licenses to purchase or carry firearms openly.

  • Criminals with felony convictions
  • People with restraining orders against them for domestic violence
  • Criminals with misdemeanor convictions for the assault or battery of a household member
  • Ex-military members with dishonorable discharges
  • Someone who has been declared legally mentally incompetent
  • Undocumented immigrants
  • Anyone with a drug or alcohol use disorder

Violating the state’s firearm ownership laws is a misdemeanor in West Virginia. The penalties can range from $100 to $1,000 in fines and/or up to one year in jail for a first offense. A second or subsequent conviction increases the crime to a felony, punishable with up to five years in state prison and/or up to $5,000 in fines.

Concealed Carry Laws in West Virginia

If you wish to carry a concealed firearm in West Virginia, you must be 21 or older or have a license to do so. Someone 18 to 20 who wishes to conceal carry needs a provisional concealed pistol/revolver license. You may obtain this license if you need to conceal a pistol or revolver as part of your job. Lawmakers created this exception specifically for law enforcement officers, but it can apply to anyone who needs to carry a concealed weapon as an employment requirement.

Federal Gun Laws

As a firearm owner in any of the 50 states, you must also obey federal firearm laws. Several federal laws are in place to increase the safety of gun use in the U.S. To own a Type II weapon, for example, you will need a special license. You will also have to register the Type II gun. Type II weapons include machine guns, short-barreled shotguns and rifles, and antique guns. No gun owner may carry a firearm into a school zone, except for law enforcement. It is against federal law to own undetectable guns, or firearms that contain less than 3.7 ounces of metal.

Practice Firearm Safety

Being a smart and responsible gun owner in West Virginia requires several safety best practices. Have respect for what being a gun owner means. First, keep your firearm in a safe location if you are not the only person living in your household. You may want to invest in a gun safe or a holster that locks if you have kids at home. Be aware of the deadly risks that can come with firearms.

Treat your gun as if it is loaded, even if it is not. When using your gun, do not point at anything you do not intend to shoot. Check what lies beyond your target. Only touch the trigger of the gun if and when you are ready to shoot. Know how to safely operate, use, clean and store your firearm. Never handle your gun if you are angry, depressed or in an emotional state. Your emotions could impair your judgment and lead to disaster.

Do not mix firearms with alcohol or other substances. Do not hand your gun to anyone until after you have made sure it is unloaded. Leave the cylinder or action open when handing your gun to someone else. Obey all relevant gun laws for your state. They are there for everyone’s safety, including yours.