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West Virginia Gun Laws

West Virginia Gun Laws



Over the past ten years, West Virginia’s gun laws have undergone significant changes, reflecting the state’s commitment to safeguarding Second Amendment rights while addressing evolving perspectives on public safety. From background checks to concealed carry, these developments highlight West Virginia’s dedication to responsible firearm ownership. This article offers an overview of the key updates in West Virginia’s gun laws and regulations from 2013 to 2023, presented in bullet points:

2013 – Enhanced Background Checks for Concealed Carry:

   – Strengthened background checks for concealed carry permit applicants, focusing on mental health evaluations and criminal history reviews.

2014 – Enhanced Penalties for Gun Crimes:

   – Introduction of legislation imposing stricter penalties for individuals convicted of gun-related crimes.

   – Aims to deter illegal firearm use and promote public safety.

2015 – Open Carry Legislation:

   – Enactment of laws allowing individuals to openly carry firearms in public places without a concealed carry permit.

2016 – Enhanced Reporting on Lost or Stolen Firearms:

   – Strengthened laws requiring firearm owners to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement within a specific timeframe.

2017 – Enhanced Mental Health Reporting:

   – Strengthened reporting of mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

   – Aims to prevent firearm access by individuals with mental health concerns.

2018 – Concealed Carry Reciprocity Agreements:

   – Establishment of reciprocity agreements allowing individuals with valid out-of-state concealed carry permits to carry in West Virginia.

2019 – Firearm Storage and Child Access Prevention Laws:

   – Enactment of laws promoting responsible firearm storage and holding adults accountable for securing firearms from children’s access.

2020 – “Constitutional Carry” Enactment:

   – Adoption of laws allowing individuals to carry concealed firearms without a concealed carry permit.

2021 – Enhanced Oversight of Firearms Dealers:

   – Strengthened regulation and oversight of firearm dealers to ensure responsible sales practices.

2022 – Firearm Waiting Period Discussion:

    – Exploration of potential legislation implementing a mandatory waiting period for firearm purchases.

2022 – Enhanced Training for Concealed Carry:

    – Exploration of measures to enhance training requirements for individuals applying for concealed carry permits.

2023 – Firearm Storage and Child Access Prevention Laws Expansion:

    – Strengthened regulations on firearm storage to prevent unauthorized access by minors.

2023 – Enhanced Reporting on Domestic Violence:

    – Strengthened reporting of domestic violence incidents to NICS, preventing individuals with restraining orders from accessing firearms.

2023 – Firearm Safety Education Initiatives:

    – Introduction of initiatives promoting firearm safety education and training among gun owners.

    – Emphasis on responsible practices and handling.

West Virginia’s gun laws have evolved over the past decade, reflecting the state’s commitment to responsible firearm ownership and community safety. These changes showcase West Virginia’s proactive approach to firearm regulation. As the state continues to refine its laws, it remains vital for stakeholders, policymakers, and the public to engage in informed discussions that prioritize individual rights while maintaining community security.

Gun laws in West Virginia seem to fall under the category that can be deemed as the least restrictive in the United States. The State Constitutional Provision states under Article 3, Section 22: “A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, and for lawful hunting and recreational use.” The state’s intention is to uphold the people’s Second Amendment rights.
There is no necessary permit to sell or purchase a firearm; this also includes renting, lending, or gifting firearms, as long as the person receiving the weapon is considered lawfully allowed to be in possession of a firearm. Possession of handguns, shotguns, or rifles is not restricted to permit holders either, but individuals must be qualified by state and federal law. Individuals that meet one or more of the following are denied possession of a firearm under legal statute:
     Individuals convicted of a crime punishable by over one year in prison
     Individuals with felony convictions
     Any person dishonorable discharged from the military
     Illegal residents of the United States
     People who may deemed as addicts of drugs, controlled substances, and alcohol
     Any person involuntarily committed to a mental institution
     Any person with a restraining order against them
Gun laws in West Virginia state the legal age requirement to possess or purchase a rifle, shotgun, or handgun is 18 years of age. However, in order to be considered eligible to carry a concealed weapon or handgun, the person must be at least 21 years of age and be licensed by the state. Qualified applicants must also be a legal resident of the United States.
Any person with a criminal background containing felony convictions, restraining orders due to domestic violence, or have a physical or mental incapability rendering them unable to handle a handgun are immediately disqualified for a license to carry. Gun laws in the state also require that the applicant complete a training and safety course that will prove them competent in the handling and discharging of a handgun.
The course must be completed prior to applying for the license, and must be administered by a qualified agency or instructor such as the National Rifle Association, military or law enforcement agencies, or certified institution. The application is to be submitted to the local sheriff’s office pertaining to the applicants county of residence. Background checks are conducted in order to insure that the applicant is fully qualified under the states gun laws. If approved, the applicant is responsible for a fee of $15, and license is valid for five years from the date of issuance.
The open carry of a firearm is also allowed by the state. It is key to note that certain restrictions concerning open carrying of firearms are imposed by local or town legislature that must be followed as law. Some of these junctures are “grandfathered” in to the local legislature because they existed before the state’s gun laws. Currently, these restrictions are review and may be subject to removal or amendment in the future.
Minors under the age of 18 may be in possession of firearm under certain circumstances, as allowed by gun laws in West Virginia. A minor under the age of 18 is permitted to carry or possess a firearm by the given permission of a parent or lawful guardian. Minors are also allowed to possess a firearm if the minor is engaged in hunting or sporting activities that require the use of a firearm.
In terms of transporting a firearm, gun laws state that the weapons being transported be unloaded and secured in a case. Those exempt are individuals with a license to carry a concealed weapon and those with a special license issued due to disability.