See our Carrying Concealed Weapons policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue. Please note, some of the laws discussed on this page were enacted in 2016 and may not yet be in effect.
In 2016, West Virginia repealed a law requiring a person to have a permit to carry a hidden, loaded weapon in public.
Individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 must possess a permit, however, to carry a handgun. Individuals 21 years of age and over may also apply for a permit if they desire to carry in a state that grants reciprocity to West Virginia concealed carry permits.
West Virginia is a “shall issue” state, meaning that local law enforcement must issue a concealed deadly weapon license if the applicant meets certain qualifications. Any person wishing to obtain a concealed deadly weapon license must apply to the sheriff of his or her county pursuant to West Virginia law and shall be issued a license if the applicant:
- Is 21 years of age or older (individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 may apply for a provisional permit to carry;
- Is a bona fide United States citizen or legal resident, and resident of the state and of the county in which the application is made and has a valid driver’s license or other state-issued photo identification showing the residence;
- Is not addicted to alcohol or a controlled substance or drug, and is not “an unlawful user thereof,” as evidenced by either of the following within the three years immediately prior to the application: 1) Residential or court-ordered treatment for alcoholism or alcohol detoxification or drug treatment; or 2) Two or more convictions for driving while under the influence or driving while impaired;
- Has not been convicted of a felony, (unless the conviction has been expunged or set aside or the applicant’s civil rights have been restored or the applicant has been pardoned for the offense);
- Has not been convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,” as defined under federal law (this provision was added in 2012);
- Has not been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of violence within the five years immediately preceding the application;
- Has not been convicted of a misdemeanor offense of assault or battery under state law (or has not been convicted of a misdemeanor offense with similar essential elements of these crimes in another jurisdiction outside West Virginia) in which the victim was a: 1) current or former spouse; 2) current or former sexual or intimate partner; 3) person with whom the defendant cohabits or has cohabited; 4) a parent or guardian; 5) defendant’s child or ward; or 6) member of the defendant’s household at the time of the offense.
- Is not under indictment for a felony offense or is not currently serving a sentence of confinement, parole, probation or other court-ordered supervision imposed by a court of any jurisdiction, or is the subject of an emergency or temporary domestic violence protective order, or is the subject of a final domestic violence protective order entered by a court of any jurisdiction;
- Has not been adjudicated mentally incompetent or involuntarily committed to a mental institution, unless the person presents a court order reflecting that the person is no longer under the disability and the applicant’s right to possess or receive a firearm have been restored;
- Is not otherwise prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm by state or federal law; and
- Has completed a training course in the handling and firing of a handgun that meets the requirements of state law.
For both initial and renewal applications, the sheriff must conduct an investigation including an inquiry of the NICS database, the West Virginia criminal history record responses, and the National Interstate Identification Index, and the sheriff must review the information received in order to verify that the applicant’s required information is true and correct. A license may not be issued unless the issuing sheriff has verified through NICS that the available information does not indicate that receipt or possession of a firearm by the applicant would be in violation of West Virginia or federal firearm prohibition statutes.
In 2012, West Virginia removed a requirement that the applicant be “physically and mentally competent to carry such weapons.” Additional application and background check requirements are provided by statute. License revocation information is also provided by statute.
Firearm Safety Training
All persons applying for a license to carry a concealed deadly weapon in West Virginia must complete a training course in the handling and firing of a handgun. In 2016, the state added a requirement that the training include live firing exercises. Any course meeting the following criteria are deemed acceptable:
- Official National Rifle Association handgun safety or training courses;
- Handgun safety or training courses or classes available to the general public offered by an official law-enforcement organization, community college, junior college, college or private or public institution or organization or handgun training schools utilizing instructors duly certified by the institution;
- Handgun training or safety courses or classes conducted by a handgun instructor certified as such by the state or by the National Rifle Association; or
- Handgun training or safety courses or classes conducted by any branch of the United States Military, Reserve or National Guard.
A photocopy of a certificate of completion of any of the courses or classes or an affidavit from the instructor, school, club, organization or group that conducted or taught said course or class attesting to the successful completion of the course or class by the applicant or a copy of any document which shows successful completion of the course or class shall constitute evidence of qualification under this section.
Duration & Renewal
A West Virginia concealed deadly weapons license is valid for five years. Renewal applicants are not required to complete a training course in the handling and firing of a handgun if the applicant previously completed such a course.
Disclosure or Use of Information
The issuing sheriff is required to furnish the Superintendent of the West Virginia State Police with a certified copy of any approved license applications and, when requested, a certified list of all licenses issued in the county. The Superintendent shall maintain a registry of all persons who have been issued concealed weapons licenses.
Because in 2016 West Virginia repealed its law requiring an individual obtain a permit to carry a hidden, loaded gun in public, non-residents over the age of 21 do not need a permit to carry a concealed weapon in the state.
For 18 to 21 year-old non-residents, West Virginia will recognize valid out-of-state concealed carry permits. West Virginia also requires the holder of an out-of-state permit to:
- Have the permit or license in his or her immediate possession; and
- Not be a resident of West Virginia.
The West Virginia Attorney General shall seek to obtain recognition of West Virginia concealed handgun licenses and enter into and execute reciprocity agreements on behalf of the State of West Virginia with other states for the recognition of concealed handgun permits.
Every 12 months, the Attorney General must inquire of the concealed handgun permitting authorities in each other state whether a West Virginia concealed weapons licensee may carry a concealed handgun in their state and whether a West Virginia resident may carry a concealed handgun in that state based upon having a valid West Virginia concealed handgun permit, pursuant to the laws of that state or by the execution of a valid reciprocity agreement between the states.
For a list of states with which West Virginia has signed formal reciprocity agreements, see the West Virginia Permit Reciprocity page, maintained by the West Virginia Attorney General.