This week on Gun Laws Weekly we will be looking at West Virginia. Generally speaking it is a nice place to be a gun owner. It doesn’t require a permit to purchase or possess any type of firearm and as of May 26th 2016 West Virginia became a constitutional carry state which means people of age, 21 in West Virginia, are allowed to carry handguns concealed or openly without needing a concealed carry permit. Though one is still available if you would like to obtain one. More on that later. Secure weapon storage accompanying sales is only necessary because of the federal and there are no state statutes that require gun owners to lock up their firearms.
In West Virginia you have to be 18 to purchase and possess a firearm though there are a few exceptions including possession for hunting, on private property with permission of a parent or guardian, or travel between lawful possession sites. For more information on age restrictions see W. Va. Code 61-7-2.
West Virginia prohibits, generally, there are exceptions, people from possessing a firearm who:
- Are habitually addicted to alcohol or any other controlled substance.
- Has been committed to a mental institution.
- Are illegally in the United States
This is not an exhaustive list of restrictions, there are more state and federal restrictions that may hinder your ability to purchase a firearm. Please see both federal law and W. Va. Code. 61-7-7 for more information.
While the minimum age to purchase is only 18 the minimum age for concealed carry in West Virginia is 21. On May 26th 2016 West Virginia became a constitutional carry state, which made carrying firearms both concealed and openly legal as long as you are over the age of 21 and are otherwise allowed to possess a firearm in West Virginia. People between the age of 18 and 21 however still need a concealed carry permit to carry a hidden handgun. Individuals may still apply for and get a concealed carry permit in the state. This is mostly useful to people who travel out of state frequently with their firearms.
In order to get a concealed carry permit one must not be convicted of any crime or misdemeanor, be drug free and complete a training course on the safe handling of handguns (W. Va. Code 61-7-4).
West Virginia does not regulate assault style weapons but it does ban the possession, carry and transportation of:
- Machine guns.
- Submachine guns.
- Any fully automatic weapon unless the individual has complied with all federal laws.
Va. Code 61-7-9.
West Virginia has no laws regulating large capacity magazines, fifty caliber rifles, non-powder guns or junk/unsafe firearms.
This article is part of a weekly series over-viewing basic gun laws in different States. Like all laws, these are subject to change. There may also be county and city laws not covered in this article that change your ability to carry, transport and otherwise possess your firearm.