West Virginia has the least restrictive gun laws in the country. The State mandates any individual to carry a firearm with a permit as per the federal law requirements. To carry a concealed carry firearm, the applicant may apply for a Provisional CHL license. The State legalizes any individual over the age of 18-years-old to possess or purchase a handgun or rifle. But, to get a permit, the individual must be above the age of 21-years-old. Individuals with charges against committing any felony may not be issued with a license to carry handguns.
The gun laws in the State mandate the applicants to complete a firearm safety course before applying for the permit. All the applications may be submitted at the local sheriff's office and are usually processed within 45 days from the submission of the application. West Virginia's permit is honored by 36 states across the State, while West Virginia honors licenses from 34 other states. The State follows an unrestricted Shall Issues based license issuing policy. The permit is issued to the legal citizens, residents, and military personnel.
West Virginia CCW Process
Here are the basic eligibility criteria to obtain a handgun permit:
• The individual must be a minimum of 18 years of age to purchase or possess a firearm.
• Must have completed the firearms training recently before applying for the permit.
• Must be a legal resident of the state of West Virginia.
• Must be the legal US resident or citizen.
• Must not be receiving any benefits due to mental disability.
• Shall not be convicted of any charges against any felonies related to drug addiction in the past 5 years.
• Shall not be hospitalized in an asylum or mental treatment-related institutions in the past 5 years.
List of documents required along with application form:
• Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residency
• Proof of full SSN
• West Virginia State driver license
Following are the steps to be followed to complete the application to get a permit:
- Complete the firearm training course and certification.
- Download the application form from the county website or get the application form from the nearest county office.
Submit the following documents along with the completed application form.
- Firearms course completion certificate
- State-issued driver's license and ID card.
- Passport-sized photo
You may opt to get any one of the two types of licenses that are issued
- Provisional license - For individual's aged between 18 and 21. The license is valid for a period of 3 years.
- Optional License - The regular license issued for a period of 5 years.
West Virginia state does not issue permits to non-residents of the state.
To renew your license, please refer to the steps provided below:
- Download and complete the application form.
- Submit your completed and notarized application form to the Sheriff's office of the county in which you reside.
- Bring the following documents:
- Passport-sized photo
- Driver's License
- Application Fee
- The Sherriff will conduct an investigation relative to the information provided in the application. Upon completion of the investigation and if your application to carry a concealed pistol/revolver is approved, you will be requested to pay an additional $25.
- The result of the investigation will be forwarded to the State Police.
- You will be contacted when your license is ready for pick-up.
Cost of optional CHL: USD 75 (for both new and renewal)
Cost of provisional CHL: USD 25 (new permit)
For background verification: USD 25 (optional CHL) and USD 15 (provisional CHL)
West Virginia CCW Basics
Must Notify Officer
As per West Virginia Gun laws, there are no indications that direct an individual to inform the officials when approached for an inquiry regarding the possession of a firearm. But it is a must to carry the firearm permit along with you all times if you are carrying the firearm with you. It is a right to possess a firearm with an appropriate permit. If an officer approaches you and requests you to display the weapon and permit, you may do so.
No Weapon Signs Enforced
When a “No Firearm” sign is displayed, it does not have the force of law, but when it is over any property which purposefully indicates that it is a state law and it is an offence to carry firearms.
There are no legal penalties when you enter private areas with no firearm sign displayed, but it is not advisable to do so.
YES - WITHOUT A LICENSE
West Virginia gun laws permit any individual with a valid permit to carry the firearm in the vehicle. If it is a long gun, it is a must to unload the gun and keep them visible in the vehicle, while in case of short guns; they must be unloaded and enclosed inside a case. You may carry a firearm, in your vehicle without the need to carry a permit at all times.
As per West Virginia gun laws, any individual possessing a valid permit can legally carry weapons and firearms openly in hand, vehicle or to the place of work for safety purposes.
West Virginia Gun Forms & Supporting Documentation
Purchase and Possession
In the state of West Virginia it is illegal to facilitate the use, purchase, loan or renting of any firearm to any person who is explicitly forbidden from owning a firearm.
All private transactions of firearms are exempt from the mandatory background check but must submit to any and all state and federal prohibition laws and regulations.
The state of West Virginia does not demand any permit for the purchase of any handguns, shotguns or rifles of any kind.
The state of West Virginia does demand any permit for the possession of any handguns, shotguns or rifles of any kind. There are, however, several factors that may disqualify a person from ownership of a firearm. These include:
- A conviction of any offense in any court of law that results in a sentencing of at least one year.
- A dishonorable discharge from the United States Military
- A non-legal residency status
- An exhibited tendency to habitually or frequently consume alcoholic beverages to the point of intoxication or any illegal substance. Addiction to any alcoholic or illegal substance can also disqualify a resident.
- A court or psychiatric judgment of mental incompetency or insanity.
- Any instance of coercive commitment to a mental institution.
- Any civil or criminal court order of domestic violence protection in which the person bound by the order must refrain from stalking, harassing, threatening or approaching a former partner or acquainted party and any children of that party and in which the court concluded that the person posed a real and immediate physical threat to this party or children of this party.
Carrying a Firearm
West Virginia strictly prohibits the carrying of concealed handguns.This regulation does not apply to:
- Any person belonging to a lawfully established and properly regulated firearms club with the purpose of target shooting and training in target shooting while that person is transporting an loaded firearm to and from practice, competitive or recreational shooting at the aforementioned club.
- Any person carrying a firearm within the legal confines of his or her own property.
- Any person transporting any unloaded firearm between one’s residence or place of business and a gun repair shop or purveyor of firearms.
- Any person transporting any unloaded firearm between one’s residence or place of business and lawful hunting grounds where the person of question intends to participate in the trapping, hunting or killing of lawful game.
- Any member of the United States Military or National Guard, law enforcement agencies, or guards and employees of correctional institutions, given that the person in question is on duty at the time of carrying.
- Any prosecuting attorney, attorney’s assistant or judge of a circuit court.
- Any person who claims residency in another state and who possess a permit to carry a concealed firearm so long as the person’s original state of residence maintains a reciprocity agreement with the state of West Virginia.
It is the responsibility of the sheriff in the county of any applicant’s residence to distribute and receive applications for a lawful permit to carry a firearm in the state of West Virginia.
All applicants must be:
- Legal residents or lawful citizens of the United States and residents of the county and state in which the applicant is attempting to acquire a permit.
- Free from any addiction to or practice of habitually using alcohol or any illegal substance to the point of intoxication.
- Free from any felony conviction of a crime that involved the malicious use or misuse any firearm or weapon.
- 21 years of age or older unless previously receiving a lawful permit to carry from the state of West Virginia, prior to becoming 21.
- Competent in the safe handling of guns as well as mentally competent in their use.
- Free of any adjudication of mental incompetency.
- Clear of any and all pending criminal charges.
- Free from the constraints of incarceration or parole or probation for any offense of domestic violence.
- Able to prove the personal completion of any course, class or program that offers training in handgun and firearm safety and is facilitated by certified instructors. These include courses offered by the National Rifle Association, law enforcement agencies, colleges or other private institutions with instructors certified by valid entities, and the United States Military or National Guard. Renewal applicants with prior approval are exempted from this requirement.
Applicants shall have their license approved or receive notice of denial within 45 days of properly filing an application for a permit to carry a concealed firearm. Within a period of no more than 30 days following a permit denial, a citizen who feels that they have been unjustly denied a permit may file an appeal with an appropriate circuit court of West Virginia. In the event that this court upholds the permit denial, an applicant may seek to have their appeal moved to a supreme court of appeals.
In the event of a successful permit approval and issuance an additional fee of $15 is to be collected. This license is valid throughout the state of West Virginia for a period of no more than 5 years following the date of issuance. It is the responsibility of the county sheriff to forward a copy of all license applications to the office of the Superintendent of State Police.
When carrying a concealed firearm, permit holders must also carry their permit license and valid photo identification.
Should any permit holder violate any state or federal laws or regulations pertaining to the carrying of concealed firearms then that holder may have their license revoked by the state of West Virginia.
In the state of West Virginia it is illegal to possess, carry, transport or use any type of machine gun or submachine gun. This regulation does not apply to machine guns that are acquired lawfully and comply with all regulations and license requirements of the state and federal government.
Any person owning a property within the general vicinity of an established shooting range may not file a noise complaint with any governing or law enforcement body if that person acquired his or her property after the original establishment of the shooting range.
W.VA. CODE ANN. §61-6-23 (2011)
§ 61-6-23. Shooting range; limitations on nuisance actions
(a) As used in this section:
(1) “Person” means an individual, proprietorship, partnership, corporation, club or other legal entity;
(2) “Shooting range” or “range” means an area designed and operated for the use of rifles, shotguns, pistols, silhouettes, skeet, trap, black powder or any other similar shooting.
(b) Except as provided in this section, a person may not maintain a nuisance action for noise against a shooting range located in the vicinity of that person's property if the range was established as of the date of the person acquiring the property. If there is a substantial change in use of the range after the person acquires the property, the person may maintain a nuisance action if the action is brought within two years from the beginning of the substantial change in use of the range.
(c) A person who owned property in the vicinity of a shooting range that was established after the person acquired the property may maintain a nuisance action for noise against that range only if the action is brought within four years after establishment of the range or two years after a substantial change in use of the range.
(d) If there has been no shooting activity at a range for a period of two years, resumption of shooting is considered establishment of a new range for the purposes of this section.
West Virginia Concealed Carry Reciprocity
Places that are off-limits
- The State Capitol Complex
- Regional jails, detention facilities or State Division of Corrections facilities
- County courthouses or any facility housing a court of this state
- A school bus or any public primary or secondary education building, structure, facility or grounds including a vocational education building, structure, facility or grounds where secondary vocational education programs are conducted or at a school-sponsored function, or in or on a private primary or secondary education building, structure or facility
- Any building or area limited by municipal code. Certain municipalities may have further handgun restrictions in municipal code. Before carrying a weapon in a West Virginia municipality, it is recommended that you inquire as to such laws with the appropriate city attorney’s office
- Any property where firearms are prohibited by the owner, lessee or other person charged with the care, custody, and control of the real property
- Wherever signs are posted indicating weapon restrictions
- Places prohibited by Federal Law
Places that are allowed
- State parks
- State and national forests
- Roadside rest areas
- Other areas not mentioned above
Citizens under the age of 18 may not possess or carry any firearms. This regulation does not apply to underage citizens carrying firearms on family-owned property, on property in which the owner or lease holder has explicitly permitted a citizen to carry a firearm or during the transportation to and from or practice of lawful, supervised hunting.West Virginia prohibits:
- The public display of firearms for sale or rent in such a way that persons passing by on the street, alley or road may see them.
- The carrying or use of any weapon in a manner that threatens or disturbs the peace
- Carrying, transporting or using a firearm on the property of another citizen without their expressed consent. Persons caught doing so must either relinquish their firearm or remove themselves from the property upon the request of the owner or lease holder
- Carrying a firearm on the grounds of any public or private elementary, middle or high school, school bus or function specifically sponsored by the school. This regulation does not apply to law enforcement officers, persons carrying a firearm for an educational program approved by the school or persons with an unloaded firearm locked in their motor vehicle
The State of West Virginia reserves the right to bring suit or recover any damages against any dealer, purveyor, manufacturer or trader of firearms on behalf of any county or municipality within the state in cases pertinent to the abatement or injunctive relief resulting from the marketing, sale, production, or design of any firearms or ammunition. Counties and municipalities may, however, seek legal action against any of the above entities for breach of warranty or contract.All firearms in motor vehicles must remain unloaded while within that vehicle. This regulation does not apply to concealed firearm permit holders who lawfully carry their firearms in their vehicles or for the purpose of self-defense while hunting and persons who maintain a Class Q hunting permit with special accommodations for the disabled.
In evening hours all firearms must be properly sealed in cases or taken apart unless the guns owner is also lawfully carrying that gun with a license to carry a concealed firearm.
West Virginia Off Limits
§61-7-11A. - Possessing Deadly Weapons on Premises of Educational Facilities; Reports by School Principals; Suspension of Driver’s License; Possessing Deadly Weapons on Premises Housing Courts of Law and Family Law Courts
(a) The Legislature finds that the safety and welfare of the citizens of this state are inextricably dependent upon assurances of safety for children attending and persons employed by schools in this state and for persons employed by the judicial department of this state. It is for the purpose of providing assurances of safety that §61-7-11a(b), §61-7-11a(g), and §61-7-11a(h), of this code and §61-7-11a(b)(2)(I) of this code are enacted as a reasonable regulation of the manner in which citizens may exercise the rights accorded to them pursuant to section 22, article III of the Constitution of the State of West Virginia.
(b) (1) It is unlawful to possess a firearm or other deadly weapon:
(A) On a school bus as defined in §17A-1-1 of this code;
(B) In or on the grounds of any primary or secondary educational facility of any type: Provided, That it shall not be unlawful to possess a firearm or other deadly weapon in or on the grounds of any private primary or secondary school, if such institution has adopted a written policy allowing for possession of firearms or other deadly weapons in the facility or on the grounds thereof;
(C) At a school-sponsored function that is taking place in a specific area that is owned, rented, or leased by the West Virginia Department of Education, the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission, a county school board, or local public school for the actual period of time the function is occurring.
(2) This subsection does not apply to:
(I) Any person, 21 years old or older, who has a valid concealed handgun permit may possess a concealed handgun while in a motor vehicle in a parking lot, traffic circle, or other areas of vehicular ingress or egress to a public school: Provided, That:
(i) When he or she is occupying the vehicle the person stores the handgun out of view from persons outside the vehicle; or
(ii) When he or she is not occupying the vehicle the person stores the handgun out of view from persons outside the vehicle, the vehicle is locked, and the handgun is in a glove box or other interior compartment, or in a locked trunk, or in a locked container securely fixed to the vehicle.
(3) A person violating this subsection is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be imprisoned in a state correctional facility for a definite term of years of not less than two years nor more than 10 years, or fined not more than $5,000, or both fined and imprisoned.
§61-6-19. - Willful Disruption of Governmental Processes; Offenses Occurring at State Capitol Complex; Penalties
(b) It is unlawful for any person to bring upon the State Capitol Complex any weapon as defined in §61-7-2 of this code: Provided, That a person who may lawfully possess a firearm may keep a firearm in his or her motor vehicle upon the State Capitol Complex if the vehicle is locked and the weapon is out of normal view. It is unlawful for any person to willfully deface any trees, wall, floor, stairs, ceiling, column, statue, monument, structure, surface, artwork, or adornment in the State Capitol Complex. It is unlawful for any person or persons to willfully block or otherwise willfully obstruct any public access, stair, or elevator in the State Capitol Complex after being asked by a law-enforcement officer acting in his or her official capacity to desist: Provided, however, That, in order to preserve the constitutional right of the people to assemble, it is not willful blocking or willful obstruction for persons gathered in a group or crowd if the persons move to the side or part to allow other persons to pass by the group or crowd to gain ingress or egress: Provided further, That this subsection does not apply to a law-enforcement officer acting in his or her official capacity. Any person who violates this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than $100 or confined in jail not more than six months, or both.
(10) “Concealed” 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.
§8-12-5A. - Limitations Upon Municipalities
(a) Except as provided by the provisions of this section and the provisions of section five of this article, neither a municipality nor the governing body of any municipality may, by ordinance or otherwise, limit the right of any person to purchase, possess, transfer, own, carry, transport, sell or store any revolver, pistol, rifle or shotgun or any ammunition or ammunition components to be used therewith nor to so regulate the keeping of gunpowder so as to directly or indirectly prohibit the ownership of the ammunition in any manner
inconsistent with or in conflict with state law. (b) For the purposes of this section:
(1) "Municipally owned or operated building" means any building that is used for the business of the municipality, such as a courthouse, city hall, convention center, administrative building or other similar municipal building used for a municipal purpose permitted by state law: Provided, That "municipally owned or operated building" does not include a building owned by a municipality that is leased to a private entity where the municipality primarily serves as a property owner receiving rental payments.
(2) “Municipally owned recreation facility” means any municipal swimming pool, recreation center, sports facility, facility housing an after-school program or other similar facility where children are regularly present.
(c)(1) A municipality may enact and enforce an ordinance or ordinances that prohibit or regulate the carrying or possessing of a firearm in municipally owned or operated buildings.
(2) A municipality may enact and enforce an ordinance or ordinances that prohibit a person from carrying or possessing a firearm openly or that is not lawfully concealed in a municipally owned recreation facility: Provided, That a municipality may not prohibit a person with a valid concealed handgun permit from carrying an otherwise lawfully possessed firearm into a municipally owned
recreation facility and securely storing the firearm out of view and access to others during their time at the municipally owned recreation facility.
(3) A person may keep an otherwise lawfully possessed firearm in a motor vehicle in municipal public parking facilities if the vehicle is locked and the firearm is out of view.
(4) A municipality may not prohibit or regulate the carrying or possessing of a firearm on municipally owned or operated property other than municipally owned or operated buildings and municipally owned recreation facilities pursuant to subdivisions (1) and (2) of this section: Provided, That a municipality may prohibit persons who do not have a valid concealed handgun license from carrying or
possessing a firearm on municipally owned or operated property.
(d) It shall be an absolute defense to an action for an alleged violation of an ordinance authorized by this section prohibiting or regulating the possession of a firearm that the person: (1) Upon being requested to do so, left the premises with the firearm or temporarily relinquished the firearm in response to being informed that his or her possession of the firearm was contrary to municipal ordinance; and (2) but for the municipal ordinance the person was lawfully in possession of the firearm.
(e) Any municipality that enacts an ordinance regulating or prohibiting the carrying or possessing of a firearm pursuant to subsection (c) of this section shall prominently post a clear statement at each entrance to all applicable municipally owned or operated buildings or municipally owned recreation facilities setting forth the terms of the regulation or prohibition.
(f) Redress for an alleged violation of this section may be sought through the provisions of chapter fifty-three of this code, which may include the awarding of reasonable attorneys fees and costs. Where Cities/Municipalities May Ban Carry SB317 (2014 session) preemption made state law uniform. Cities may not ban carry on property in excess of what state law allows. This was a major win for firearms rights, as it removed a minefield where various cities had different laws. Places cities may ban carry:
- City Hall
- Convention Centers
- Administrative Buildings
- Other buildings used for the business of city government, not to include parks and garages
- Open carry without a CHL on city property
- Open carry without a license at a festival/fair/event where streets or sidewalks are blocked for the