West Virginia

“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.”


West Virginia is a shall-issue state. There is no permit, background check, waiting period or registration required when buying from a private individual. WV is a constitutional carry state. Open carry is legal at 18. Conceal carry is legal at 21. WV honors all out-of-state concealed carry permits. WV is a Castle Doctrine state and has a “stand your ground” law. There is no duty to retreat. The justified use of force constitutes a full defense to any civil action brought by an intruder or attacker.

Reciprocal Carry

West Virginia allows anyone 21 or older to carry a handgun without a permit, concealed or openly. West Virginia now allows adults between the ages of 18-20 to apply for a provisional concealed carry permit, which requires applicants to undergo firearms training, unless applicants are 21 and up.

By statute, West Virginia will recognize another state’s license to carry if that state recognizes West Virginia’s license.

Anyone contemplating reciprocal carry should check with the official list maintained by the West Virginia AG at the point in time the reciprocal carry is to occur. West Virginia’s reciprocity agreement can be viewed online.

Duty To Notify Police Officer

While carrying a firearm, You must have your license/permit in Your immediate possession and must display it upon request from a LEO.

Carrying Firearms In Vehicles

West Virginia permits anyone who may legally possess a firearm to carry it unloaded in a motor vehicle, provided it is clearly visible from the outside. From July 1 to September 30 each year, unloaded guns must also be secured in a case when carried during certain times of the day.

Constitutional Carry

As of 5/24/16, West Virginia now permits anyone who is at least 21 years old and not prohibited from owning a firearm to carry a handgun without a permit, openly or concealed. Possession and open carry of handguns is legal at age 18, but adults between the ages of 18 and 21 must obtain a permit in order to carry a concealed firearm. Persons under the age of 18 may carry on family premises or on other property with permission of the owner or lessee.

NFA Items

West Virginia permits ownership of all NFA items, provided they are legally obtained pursuant to federal law. It is legal to use suppressors for hunting. CLEOs are required to sign an application for the transfer of any item regulated under the NFA within 30 days if the applicant is not prohibited by law from receiving it.

Self-Defense Laws

West Virginia has both Castle Doctrine and SYG laws. There is no duty to retreat from anywhere You have a legal right to be. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, or to stop the unlawful & forcible entry into Your dwelling if You reasonably believe the intruder intends to harm an occupant or commit a felony inside the dwelling.

Carry In Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

West Virginia has no law prohibiting the carrying of a firearm into establishments that serve alcohol. However, if the owner or manager of the establishment requests that You disarm or leave, You must do so. Failure to obey such signs or verbal warnings constitutes trespass.

Do “No Gun Signs” Have The Force Of Law?

“No Firearms” signs in West Virginia do not have the force of law unless they are posted on property that is specifically mentioned in state law as being off limits to those with a permit/license to carry. However, as a possessor with a real property interest, a retailer, has the right to limit, and qualify the right to enter the property, subject to not carrying a handgun. It would be improper to enter, and the licensee would be subject to ejection for possession of a handgun thereat. Failure to leave once requested would subject the licensee to criminal charges.

Open Carry

Open carry is legal. A permit to carry is available, but is not required to carry a handgun either openly or concealed. The minimum age for open carry is 18.

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However, the GLBSG was not researched and/or written by attorneys as a specific legal guide to rely upon. Instead, it is a starting point for your own research. In addition, all laws are always subject to reasonable, but different, legal interpretation as to meaning and application.

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