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West Virginia Gun Control Laws

West Virginia’s state motto is Montani Semper Liberi or “Mountaineers are always free.” Depending on who you ask, gun ownership may be considered a part of what makes this a free country. Some say that the Constitution protects the right to have guns and West Virginia is doing an excellent job of upholding that protection. Or, conversely, others claim that West Virginia is doing a terrible job controlling guns, and because of that has supplied the second highest number of guns involved in crimes compared to other states per capita.

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.

Code Section West Virginia Code Chapter 61, Article 7: Dangerous Weapons
Illegal Arms Federal law prohibits certain guns, including machine guns, sub-machine guns, fully automatic weapons, and silencers. Therefore, residents in West Virginia can’t have those guns or accessories lawfully either.
Waiting Period West Virginia has no waiting period when buying guns.
Concealed Carry Adults at least 21 years old in West Virginia can apply for a license to carry a concealed pistol or revolver. Adults between 18 and 21 can apply if the concealed carry is an employment requirement, an exception essentially created for law enforcement.

Persons visiting West Virginia who have concealed carry permits in their own state can carry their guns lawfully in West Virginia, if at least 21 years old and carrying the permit or license.
Who’s Prohibited from Owning Guns? Several different types of people can’t own guns:
  • Convicted of a felony
  • Dishonorably discharged from the military
  • Has been found legally mentally incompetent
  • Undocumented person (“illegal alien”)
  • Addicted to drugs or alcohol or unlawful user of drugs
  • Minors under 18
  • Without parental permission
  • Has a domestic violence protective order restraining them from harming an intimate partner or child
  • Convicted of misdemeanor assault or battery of a current or former spouse, partner, cohabitant, parent, child, or other household member

Having a conviction expunged or pardoned will get your gun rights restored in West Virginia.

Law Prohibiting Firearms On or Near School Grounds It’s a felony offense to possess a gun or other deadly weapon on a public or private school property, school bus, or secondary vocational programs. However, there are exceptions for:
  • Law enforcement officers
  • the WVU Mountaineer or Parkersburg South High School Patriot mascots
  • When a person leaves an unloaded gun locked in his or her car in the school parking lot
  • When an unloaded gun is displayed for a school raffle

Violating this law can result in 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

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.

Note: State laws change regularly; please contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify these firearm laws.

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