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West Virginia Gun Rights

An Overview of Firearms Laws in the Mountain State

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Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms?

Yes. A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home, and state, and for lawful hunting and recreational use.

Concealed Carry

West Virginia is a shall-issue state, meaning authorities are required to issue carry permits to qualified applicants. To qualify, an applicant must be at least 21 years old and a resident of the county where the application is filed, successfully complete a handgun training course and undergo a criminal background check.

Persons denied carry permits in West Virginia include anyone addicted to alcohol or drugs, convicted felons, persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence or misdemeanor crimes involving the use of a firearm, persons on probation for any misdemeanor and persons judged mentally incompetent.

Application is made through county sheriff’s offices. Permits are issued within 45 days at a cost of $90, and are valid for five years.

West Virginia’s carry permits are honored by the following states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

West Virginia honors carry permits from the states of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Castle Doctrine

West Virginia has a self-defense law based on the castle doctrine, and is a “stand your ground” state, meaning persons under attack do not have a duty to retreat before using physical or deadly force.

The state’s statute specifies that deadly force can be used within the home or in any place a person has a legal right to be. However, the force must be proportionate and there must be a belief that the attacker or intruder may kill or cause serious bodily harm to oneself or others. Within the home, physical or deadly force can also be used, proportionately, to prevent a felony from being committed.

Pro-Gun Provisions

Open carry is permissible in West Virginia.

West Virginia has a preemption law that prevents cities and counties from enacting gun laws that are more restrictive than state law. However, there were some exemptions that were “grandfathered” in when the preemption law was passed. In those cities, which include Charleston, Dunbar and South Charleston, gun possession is restricted in some areas.

West Virginia also has a law extending protection to gun firing ranges.

Restrictions

Gun bans: None

Waiting periods for gun purchases: None.

License or permit to purchase guns: None.

Registration of guns: None.

Places in Washington where it is illegal to carry a gun, with or without a permit, include:

  • Jails
  • Schools
  • School events
  • Courthouses
  • The State Capitol Complex
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