Gun laws in West Virginia

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Gun laws in West Virginia regulate the sale, possession, and use of firearms and ammunition in the U.S. state of West Virginia.[1][2]

Summary table[edit]

Subject/Law Long Guns Handguns Relevant Statutes Notes
State permit required to purchase? No No
Firearm registration? No No
Owner license required? No No
License required for concealed carry? N/A No §61-7-4


As of May 24, 2016,[3] West Virginia became a constitutional carry state. Any person 21 years or older who is legally able to own a handgun may carry the weapon concealed without the need of obtaining a permit. A permit is required for individuals 18-20 years old who wish to carry a handgun concealed. Carry permits are still issued on a "shall issue" basis to anyone who would like one for reciprocity purposes. As of October 2016, there are 37 states that recognize WV permits for those 21 years or older, and of those 35 states, 16 recognize WV permits issued to persons 18 years or older. Note: 2 of the 37 states don't officially recognize the WV permit, but are constitutional carry states, so no permit is required.[4][5]
License required for open carry? No No Open carry is generally allowed without a permit.
State preemption of local restrictions? Yes Yes §8-12-5a 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.
Background checks required for private sales? No No
Location of West Virginia in the United States

The Constitution of West Virginia protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms.[6] West Virginia preempts local regulation of several aspects of firearms, though local regulations which were in effect prior to 1999 were grandfathered.[1][2][7] Further, State agencies and institutions are not precluded from enacting laws which regulate firearms.[8] 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.[9][10][11]

There are no firearms known to be prohibited by State law. Prohibited places include correctional facilities, primary and secondary school property (excluding firearms within a vehicle);[12] buses; and events, courthouses, the State Capitol Complex and grounds, private property where posted, certain areas in Charleston, Dunbar, and South Charleston.[13] 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.[1][2]

Open carry of a handgun without a permit is legal in West Virginia at age 18, withstanding other applicable laws. No permit is necessary for concealed carry of a handgun for any individual over the age of 21 who is legally allowed to own a handgun. A permit is required for individuals 18-20 to carry a concealed handgun assuming they are otherwise legally allowed to own the firearm.

West Virginia enacted the castle doctrine on April 10, 2008.[14]


  1. ^ a b c "West Virginia State Law Summary", Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "State Gun Laws: West Virginia", National Rifle Association – Institute for Legislative Action. Retrieved January 2, 2013.
  3. ^ NRA-ILA. "NRA-ILA | West Virginia: Permitless Carry Went Into Effect on May 24!". NRA-ILA. Retrieved 2016-06-01.
  4. ^ "States Recognizing West Virginia Concealed Handgun Licenses". Retrieved 2016-10-07.
  5. ^ NRA-ILA. "NRA-ILA | West Virginia: Attorney General Morrisey Announces Expanded Concealed Handgun Recognition". NRA-ILA. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
  6. ^ West Virginia Constitution – Article III, §3–22. Right to keep and bear arms.
  7. ^ "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives – State Laws and Published Ordinances – Firearms" (PDF). Retrieved November 23, 2011.
  8. ^ §8-12-5a. Limitations upon municipalities' power to restrict the purchase, possession, transfer, ownership, carrying, transport, sale and storage of certain weapons and ammunition.
  9. ^ West Virginia Citizens Defense League – Proposed Legislation – 2. Strengthen the state preemption law
  10. ^ West Virginia Citizens Defense League – Charleston City Council Presentation
  11. ^ West Virginia Citizens Defense League – Martinsburg City Council Presentation
  12. ^ NRA-ILA. "NRA-ILA | West Virginia: Governor Signs Pro-Gun Bills into Law". NRA-ILA. Retrieved 2017-04-27.
  13. ^ West Virginia Citizens Defense League – Places Off Limits While Carrying Archived 2017-01-29 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Porterfield, Mannix (2008-04-10). "Manchin signs 'Castle Doctrine' bill". The Register-Herald. Retrieved 2008-04-27.