I’m seeing more and more confusing regarding West Virginia’s gun laws as of 2019. Here is a quick rundown of some important things every West Virginian should know:
West Virginia recognizes the right of United States Citizens, or Legal Residents of the United States, who are 21 years of age or older, and who are not otherwise prohibited under state or federal law from possessing a firearm, to carry a concealed weapon in West Virginia without first obtaining a concealed carry license. This is known as “Constitutional Carry,” in this, as well as other freedom-loving states.
This allows qualified persons to carry any “deadly weapon,” not just a pistol/revolver, like the old permit process allowed. What can be carried concealed under constitutional carry?
A “deadly weapon” is generally deemed as “an instrument which is designed to be used to produce serious bodily injury or death or is readily adaptable to such use.” W. Va. Code § 61-7-2(9). It includes, but is not limited to, knives, switchblades, metallic knuckles, pistols, revolvers, and blackjacks. W. Va. Code § 61-7-2. Other items will be considered a “deadly weapon” for purposes of this statute where the circumstances of a particular case demonstrate that the weapon was “dangerous or deadly.” See Syl. Pt. 5, State v. Choat, 178 W. Va. 607, 363 S.E.2d 493 (1987).
What is the definition of “concealed” under the law?
“Concealed,” for purposes of W. Va. Code § 61-7-1, et seq., means:
hidden from ordinary observation so as to prevent disclosure or recognition. A deadly weapon is concealed when it is carried on or about the person in such a manner that another person in the ordinary course of events would not be placed on notice that the deadly weapon was being carried. For purposes of concealed handgun licensees, a licensee shall be deemed to be carrying on or about his or her person while in or on a motor vehicle if the firearm is located in a storage area in or on the motor vehicle.
- West Virginia’s constitutional carry law applies only to persons physically within the State of West Virginia. It does not authorize any person to carry in another state.
- It does not apply to persons under the age of 21, even if they are otherwise eligible to possess a firearm.
18-21 year olds:
Just how is freedom denied to 18-21 year olds who have fought and died in foreign wars for the politicians who restricted their God-given rights?
- WV residents from 18-20 years of age who are not otherwise prohibited by law may obtain a “Provisional License” to carry a concealed pistol/handgun (ONLY- no nunchucks,etc.) for a total cost of $40.00. It will be valid until the person turns 21.
- NOTE: The provisional license only applies to pistols or revolvers. Other concealed deadly weapons (such as brass knuckles, knives longer than 3.5″, clubs, ASPs, etc…) may result in arrest, fine, and jail time. An 18-20 year old who carries any concealed deadly weapon without a license will face a year in jail and a $1000 fine, and could find themselves disqualified for firearms ownership in the future. The same penalty applies to an 18-20 year old who carries a concealed deadly weapon other than a handgun, even if they have a provisional license. 21+ persons are allowed to carry deadly weapons other than firearms concealed, provided that weapon is legal to possess, and that they are not prohibited by law from possessing firearms. Disqualified persons (felony convictions, etc..) who carry concealed deadly weapons of any kind face severe criminal penalties.
- 18-20 year old members of the United States Armed Forces, Reserves, and National Guard may carry concealed handguns without a license. NOTE: This does not cover deadly weapons other than handguns. Knives with blades longer than 3.5″, switchblades, dirks, ASPs, etc… are NOT covered under this section. Handguns only. See: §61-7-6.
Persons between the ages of 18 and 21 in lawful possession of a rearm are not prohibited from carrying an unconcealed rearm (“open carry”) without a provisional license as long as the person obeys all other applicable laws and restrictions.
“Prohibited Persons” from owning a firearm under West Virginia law:
Under West Virginia law, individuals falling within the following categories are prohibited from possessing a firearm:
– Has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year;
– Is habitually addicted to alcohol;
– Is an unlawful user of or habitually addicted to any controlled substance;
– Has been adjudicated to be mentally incompetent or who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution
– Is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States;
– Has been discharged from the armed forces under dishonorable conditions;
– Is subject to a domestic violence protective order (provided the DVP prohibits possession of firearms/ammunition; note that an emergency, ex parte domestic violence protective order must prohibit the respondent from possessing a firearm);
– Has been convicted of a misdemeanor offense of assault or battery either under state or federal law which the victim was a current or former spouse or sexual or intimate partner, person with whom the defendant has a child in common, person with whom the defendant cohabits or has cohabited, a parent or guardian, the defendant’s child or ward or a member of the defendant’s household at the time of the offense or has been convicted in any court of any jurisdiction of a comparable misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.
W. Va. Code 61-7-7(a)(1)-(8) (2016).
Temporary Personal Safety Orders:
West Virginia also recently enacted W. Va. Code Section 53-8-5, which provides for “temporary personal safety orders”, which are essentially domestic violence protective orders for petitioners who are not related to the respondents. PSOs are available where the respondent alleges sexual offenses, stalking (W. Va. Code Section 61-2-9(a)), or repeated credible threats of bodily injury (W. Va. Code Section 53-8-4). A PSO may prohibit the respondent from possessing a firearm if a weapon was used or threatened to be used in the commission of the offense; or the respondent has violated any previous order; or the respondent has been convicted of an offense involving the use of a firearm. See W. Va. Code Section 53-8-5. These orders can be in effect up to two years.
For more information, see the Attorney General’s handbook: