West Virginia Constitutional Carry
West Virginia is known for its permissive gun laws, especially when it comes to the concept of constitutional carry. In this article, we will explore the details of West Virginia’s gun laws, including the provisions for open carry and concealed carry, the places where firearms are prohibited, the application process for a gun permit, and the requirements for obtaining one. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor to the Mountain State, understanding its gun laws is essential for responsible firearm ownership.
Constitutional Carry Explained
What is Constitutional Carry?
Constitutional carry, also known as permitless carry, allows individuals to carry a firearm openly or concealed without the need for a government-issued permit. In West Virginia, the state recognizes constitutional carry, granting residents the right to possess a firearm without a license.
Open Carry in West Virginia
Possession of Firearms
West Virginia allows open carry without a gun license, as long as the individual is at least eighteen years old and has no federal or state prohibitions against firearm possession. However, it’s important to note that certain locations within the state restrict the open carry of firearms.
While open carry is generally allowed in West Virginia, it is prohibited in specific places, such as schools, courtrooms, prisons, and state capitol buildings. If caught carrying a firearm in these restricted areas, individuals may face legal consequences.
Concealed Carry Laws
Concealed Carry for Residents
Residents of West Virginia, who are at least twenty-one years old and have no disqualifications, can carry concealed firearms without a permit.
Non-Resident Concealed Carry
As of July 6, 2021, non-residents can also apply for a concealed carry permit in West Virginia. However, they must possess a valid gun license from their home state.
Gun Permit in Private Vehicles
West Virginia requires a gun permit for the possession of firearms in private vehicles, except for those who are at least twenty-one years old or military members aged eighteen and above with legal rights to possess firearms.
Possession of Firearms in Specific Areas
Firearms in Parks and Wildlife Areas
Firearm possession in West Virginia parks and wildlife areas is generally allowed, except in areas where specific posts prohibit possession.
Gun Policies in Hotels
Hotels in West Virginia can set their own gun policies, allowing or disallowing the possession of firearms on their premises.
Employer-Employee Firearm Possession
According to West Virginia gun laws, employers cannot prohibit employees from possessing firearms legally in their vehicles while parked at work. This provision also applies to invited guests on the property.
Places Where Firearms are Prohibited
Firearms in Schools
Firearms are strictly prohibited on primary and secondary school premises in West Virginia. The only exception is locking away an unloaded firearm in a vehicle while on school grounds.
Firearms in Court Buildings
Possession of firearms is not allowed in buildings or facilities used for court sessions in West Virginia.
Firearms in Prisons and Jails
Firearms are prohibited in prisons, jails, detention centers, and other correctional facilities within the state.
Firearms in State Capitol Buildings
Unless individuals possess a concealed handgun license, they cannot carry firearms within state capitol buildings. Firearms must be safely stored in vehicles away from public view.
Application Process for West Virginia Gun Permit
To obtain a West Virginia concealed carry permit, individuals must follow these steps:
- Complete a state-certified firearm training course for concealed carry.
- Download and fill out the application form from an online portal.
- Notarize the completed application at the local county sheriff’s office.
- Submit necessary documents, including a firearm training certificate, passport photograph, and identification.
- Pay the required fee.
- The application will be investigated, and if approved, it will be processed by the West Virginia State Police.
- The processing period typically takes forty-five days.
- The permit will be valid for five years and must be renewed after expiration.
Requirements for West Virginia Gun Permit
Before applying for a West Virginia gun permit, applicants must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least twenty-one years old, or between eighteen and twenty years old for a provisional license.
- Complete a West Virginia concealed carry permit course for firearm training.
- Be a legal citizen or resident of the United States.
- Reside in the county from where the application is being made.
- Not have any substance addiction or drug-related court orders in the past three years.
- Not have multiple convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol.
- Not have any felony convictions, unless pardoned or expunged by a court.
- Not have any convictions for misdemeanor crimes or domestic assault as per federal law.
- Not have any convictions for violent crimes for at least five years before applying.
- Not be convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence involving a spouse, partner, cohabitant, parent, guardian, child, or household member.
- Not have any convictions with an active sentence, parole, or probation.
- Not have any court order restricting firearm possession.
- Not be mentally unstable or a patient of a mental institution without a court order stating otherwise.
- Not have any protection orders or red flags from any court in the state.
- Meet all federal law requirements for gun permit applications.
West Virginia stands as a constitutional carry state, allowing its residents to possess firearms without the need for a government-issued license. However, there are certain restrictions and prohibited areas that gun owners must be aware of to comply with the law fully. For those interested in concealed carry, obtaining a permit requires meeting specific requirements and undergoing a state-certified training course. Remember, responsible gun ownership is essential for ensuring safety and adhering to the laws that govern firearm possession.
1. Can I carry a firearm without a permit in West Virginia?
Yes, West Virginia is a constitutional carry state, which means you can carry a firearm without a permit as long as you meet all state requirements and have no disqualifications.
2. Can non-residents carry concealed firearms in West Virginia?
Yes, non-residents can carry concealed firearms in West Virginia if they have a valid gun license from their home state.
3. Are there places where firearms are prohibited in West Virginia?
Yes, firearms are prohibited in places such as schools, court buildings, prisons, and state capitol buildings, among others. Always check local laws and regulations to ensure compliance.
4. What are the requirements for obtaining a West Virginia gun permit?
To obtain a West Virginia gun permit, applicants must be at least twenty-one years old (or between eighteen and twenty for a provisional license), complete a certified firearm training course, and meet other eligibility criteria, including no felony convictions and not being mentally unstable.
5. How long is a West Virginia gun permit valid?
A West Virginia gun permit is valid for five years. After the permit expires, it must be renewed, and the renewal permit will also be valid for five years.