West Virginia Gun Law Summary

Rifles and
Shotguns Handguns

Permit to Purchase  No No
Registration of Firearms  No No
Licensing of Owners  No No
Permit to Carry  No Yes

STATE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION 
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. Art. 3, Sec. 22. 

PURCHASE 
It is unlawful for any person to sell, give, rent or lend a 
firearm to a person prohibited from possessing a firearm. 
No state permit is required to purchase a rifle, shotgun or 
handgun. 

POSSESSION 
No state permit is required to possess a rifle, shotgun or 
handgun. 
Possession is denied to: 
Persons convicted in any court of a crime punishable 
by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year. 
Individuals discharged from the Armed Forces under 
less than honorable conditions. 
Individuals adjudged mentally incompetent or 
involuntarily committed to a mental institution. 
Illegal aliens. 
Addicts or unlawful users of alcohol or controlled 
substances. 
Individuals subject to a domestic violence protective 
order that:
a. was issued after a hearing on which such 
person receives actual notice and an opportunity to 
participate;
b. restrains such person from harassing, stalking 
or threatening an intimate partner of such person or 
child of such intimate partner or engaging in other 
conduct that would place an intimate partner in 
reasonable fear of bodily injury; and
c. includes a finding that such person represents 
a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate 
partner or child by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, 
attempted use or threatened use of physical force.

CARRY 
It is unlawful for anyone to carry any handgun concealed 
on or about the person without a license to carry. 
Exceptions. No license is required for: 
Any person carrying any firearm upon his own 
premises. 
Carrying any firearm, while unloaded, between home, 
residence or place of business; from place of purchase 
or to place of repair; while hunting in a lawful manner 
or while traveling to or from a hunting site and home, 
residence or place of business. 
A member of a properly organized target shooting club 
authorized by law to obtain firearms from the United 
States, to transport a handgun, while unloaded, from 
place of target practice to or from home, residence or 
place of business. 
Law enforcement officers, correction employees while 
on duty, members of the Armed Forces of the United 
States and the state Militia while on duty. 
Circuit judges, prosecuting attorneys and their 
assistants, and investigators employed by a prosecuting 
attorney. 
Any resident of another state who has a carry 
concealed license issued by a state that has entered 
into a reciprocity agreement with West Virginia.  The 
governor may execute reciprocity agreements for West 
Virginia with states that have similar gun permitting 
laws and that recognize West Virginia licenses.
Application for a license to carry is made to the sheriff 
of the county where one resides. The application filing fee is 
$75.00. 
The applicant must: 
Be a citizen or lawful resident of the United States and 
a resident of the state and county in which application 
is made. 
Be over the age of 21 years. Those under 21 who 
already have a license to carry a concealed weapon 
shall be able to keep their licenses. 
Not be addicted to or an unlawful user of alcohol or 
controlled substances. 
Not have been convicted of a felony or an act of 
violence involving the misuse of firearms or deadly 
weapons. 
Be physically and mentally competent to carry such 
weapon. 
Have no criminal charges pending and currently not 
serving a sentence of confinement, parole or probation 
because of a charge of domestic violence; and is not 
the subject of a restraining order as a result of domestic 
violence. 
Not have been adjudicated to be mentally 
incompetent. 
The applicant has qualified under minimum 
requirements for handling and firing a pistol or revolver. 
Persons applying for a license must have completed a 
training course in handling and firing a handgun. The 
successful completion of any of the following courses 
fulfills this training requirement: 
a) any official National Rifle Association 
handgun safety or training course; 
b) any handgun safety or training course or 
class available to the general public offered 
by an official law-enforcement organization, 
community college, junior college, college or 
private or public institution, organization, or 
handgun training school utilizing instructors 
duly certified by such institution; 
c) any handgun training or safety course or class 
conducted by a handgun instructor certified 
as such by the state or by the National Rifle 
Association; 
d) any handgun training or safety course or class 
conducted by any branch of the United States 
military, reserve or national guard. 
The training requirement is waived in the case of a renewal 
applicant who has previously qualified.
The sheriff shall issue or deny the license within 45 days 
after the application is filed if the background checks have been 
completed. Any person denied a license may file, in the circuit 
court in which the application was made, a petition seeking 
review of the denial. This petition shall be filed within 30 days 
of the denial and the applicant may be represented by counsel. 
If this review upholds the denial, an appeal may be filed to the 
supreme court of appeals. 
An additional fee of  $15 is required when the license is 
approved and issued.  The license is good for five years, unless 
revoked. The sheriff furnishes a copy of the license application 
to the Superintendent of the State Police. 
All licensees must carry with them a state issued photo 
identification card with the concealed weapons license whenever 
the licensee is carrying a concealed weapon. 
The license is deemed revoked when the licensee becomes 
unable to meet the criteria for initial licensure. 

MACHINE GUNS 
It is unlawful to carry, transport or possess any machine 
gun or sub-machine gun or fully automatic weapon unless 
properly federally licensed. 

MISCELLANEOUS
Persons under the age of 18 may not carry or possess 
firearms unless on family premises or on other property with 
permission of the owner or lessee. Also excepted is lawful 
hunting or traveling to or from a hunting site. 
It is unlawful to publicly display firearms for sale or rent, 
in such a manner as a passerby on a street, road or alley may 
see them. It is unlawful to sell or rent firearms to anyone who 
is prohibited from possessing them. 
It is unlawful to brandish a weapon, whether licensed to 
carry or not, in such a manner as to cause or threaten a breach 
of the peace.
Carrying or possessing firearms on the property of another 
is unlawful when prohibited by the owner, lessee or other person 
charged with the care, custody and control of real property. When 
requested by the owner, lessee or other person, the individual 
carrying or possessing the firearm must either relinquish 
possession or leave the premises.    Municipalities may 
not restrict the right to purchase, possess, transfer, own, carry, 
transport, sell or store firearms, ammunition, or ammunition 
components. The municipalities’ laws in effect prior to June 3, 
1999 remain in effect.  The authority to bring suit and the right 
to recover against any firearms or ammunition manufacturer, 
seller, trade association or dealer of firearms by or on behalf of 
any county or municipality in the state for damages, abatement 
or injunctive relief resulting from or relating to the design, 
manufacture, marketing, or sale of firearms or ammunition to 
the public is reserved exclusively to the state.  This does not 
prohibit a county or municipality from bringing an action for 
breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition 
purchased by the county or municipality.
A hunting law requires that firearms in a motor vehicle be 
unloaded. In addition, firearms must be cased or taken apart 
and securely wrapped during the evening and night hours.  
Exempt from this requirement are persons properly licensed to 
carry a concealed weapon and who are lawfully carrying their 
pistol or revolver concealed for self defense purposes while 
hunting or while in a motor vehicle.  There is also an exception 
for holders of the Class Q special hunting permit for disabled 
persons to hunt from a vehicle under specified circumstances.
It is unlawful to possess a firearm on any school bus, any 
public or private primary or secondary school or grounds thereof, 
or at any school-sponsored function. This shall not apply to a 
law enforcement officer, or while conducting programs with a 
valid educational purpose with permission from the board of 
education or principal, or possession of an unloaded firearm in 
a locked motor vehicle. 

Citation: West Virginia Code §§8-12-5a; 20-2-5; §20-2-46e; 
55-18-1 through 2, 61-7-1 et seq.
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