Gun laws in West Virginia
|Subject/Law||Long Guns||Handguns||Relevant Statutes||Notes|
|Permit to purchase required?||No||No|
|Owner license required?||No||No|
|Carry permits issued?||No||Yes||WV Code §61-7-4||West Virginia is a "shall issue" state for concealed carry.|
|Open carry permitted?||No||Yes||Open carry is generally permitted, but some local restrictions are grandfathered in.|
|State preemption of local restrictions?||Yes||Yes||Local laws in place before June 1, 1999 are valid. Pursuant to The Enrolled Public Act of Senate Bill 317 by The West Virginia Legislature, as Signed into Law by Governor Tomblin, The Amended Provisions of West Virginia Code Section 8-12-5a(a) Preempt and Preclude Municipalities from Regulating: '...The Carry[ing] of any Revolver, Pistol, Rifle, or Shotgun'. As a Result, a Municipality may no longer Prohibit Open Carry of a Firearm within its Jurisdictional Limits.|
|Assault weapon law?||No||No|
|NFA weapons restricted?||No||No|
|Shall Certify?||Yes||Yes||§61-7-16||Shall certify within 30 days.|
The Constitution of West Virginia protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. West Virginia preempts local regulation of several aspects of firearms, though local regulations which were in effect prior to 1999 were grandfathered. Further, State agencies and institutions are not precluded from enacting laws which regulate firearms. Charleston, Dunbar, and South Charleston are known to have grandfathered local ordinances which prohibit weapons on city property and in city buildings. The City of Martinsburg is known to have a local ordinance that was passed after 1999, which prohibits weapons in city buildings, that is not grandfathered.
There are no firearms known to be prohibited by State law. Prohibited places include correctional facilities, primary and secondary school property; buses; and events, courthouses, the State Capitol Complex and grounds, private property where posted, certain areas in Charleston, Dunbar, and South Charleston. There are age restrictions on the possession of firearms and some people are prohibited from possessing firearms due to certain criminal convictions or naturalization status. Private sales of firearms, including handguns, are legal and do not require the seller to perform a background check; however, it is unlawful to sell a firearm to a prohibited person.
Open carry of a handgun without a permit is legal in West Virginia at age 18, withstanding other applicable laws. Concealed carry of a handgun is prohibited except for persons who hold a valid license or who hold certain positions. West Virginia shall issue a license to carry a concealed handgun to applicants over 21 years of age; or 18 years of age if required for employment; provided that they meet certain safety training requirements and do not have any disqualifying criminal convictions.
- "West Virginia State Law Summary", Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
- "State Gun Laws: West Virginia", National Rifle Association – Institute for Legislative Action. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
- West Virginia Constitution – Article III, §3–22. Right to keep and bear arms.
- "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives – State Laws and Published Ordinances – Firearms" (PDF). Retrieved November 23, 2011.
- §8-12-5a. Limitations upon municipalities' power to restrict the purchase, possession, transfer, ownership, carrying, transport, sale and storage of certain weapons and ammunition.
- West Virginia Citizens Defense League – Proposed Legislation – 2. Strengthen the state preemption law
- West Virginia Citizens Defense League – Charleston City Council Presentation
- West Virginia Citizens Defense League – Martinsburg City Council Presentation
- West Virginia Citizens Defense League – Places Off Limits While Carrying
- Porterfield, Mannix (2008-04-10). "Manchin signs 'Castle Doctrine' bill". The Register-Herald. Retrieved 2008-04-27.