Ammunition Regulation in West Virginia

West Virginia prohibits a person or company from knowingly selling, renting, giving or lending ammunition to a person who is prohibited from possessing it under state or federal law.1 West Virginia law, unlike federal law, does not prohibit anyone from possessing ammunition.

West Virginia prohibits any person from publicly displaying or offering for sale or rent ammunition where a passerby on a street, road or alley can see it.2

See the section entitled Firearms Trafficking in West Virginia regarding a law aimed at the trafficking of ammunition.

West Virginia does not:

  • Require a license for the sale of ammunition;
  • Require sellers of ammunition to maintain a record of the purchasers;
  • Require a license to purchase or possess ammunition; or

See our Ammunition Regulation policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. W. Va. Code §61-7-10(d). ⤴︎
  2. W. Va. Code § 61-7-10(a). ⤴︎

Background Checks in West Virginia

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

West Virginia is not a point of contact state for NICS. West Virginia has no state law requiring firearms dealers to initiate a background check prior to transferring a firearm. In West Virginia, all firearms transfers by licensed dealers are processed directly through the FBI, which enforces the federal prohibitions referenced above.1

Firearms transfers by private sellers (non-firearms dealers) are not subject to background checks in West Virginia, although federal and state purchaser prohibitions still apply. See the West Virginia Private Sales section.

See our Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

 

Notes
  1. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map. ⤴︎

Child Access Prevention in West Virginia

West Virginia has no statute that directly penalizes someone for allowing a child to access a firearm. However, West Virginia obligates any parent, guardian or custodian of a child less than 18 years of age, who knows that the child is in possession of a firearm or any other deadly weapon in or on any property of a public or private primary or secondary education institution in violation of state law, or who has reasonable cause to believe that such a violation is imminent, to immediately report knowledge or belief of the possession violation to the appropriate school or law-enforcement officials.1

For age requirements for the purchase or possession of firearms in West Virginia, see the West Virginia Minimum Age to Purchase / Possess section.

See our Child Access Prevention policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. W. Va. Code § 61-7-11a(f)(1); see also W. Va. Code § 61-7-11a(b)(1). ⤴︎

Concealed Weapons Permitting in West Virginia

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.1

Individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 must possess a permit, however, to carry a handgun.2 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:3

 

    • Is 21 years of age or older (individuals between the ages of 18 and 21 may apply for a provisional permit to carry4;

 

    • 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.5

 

    • 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.6

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.7 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.8

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.9 License revocation information is also provided by statute.10

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.11

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.12

Duration & Renewal

A West Virginia concealed deadly weapons license is valid for five years.13 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.14

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.15 The Superintendent shall maintain a registry of all persons who have been issued concealed weapons licenses.16

Reciprocity

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.17 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.18

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.19

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.20

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.

 

Notes
  1. W. Va. Code § 61-7-3. ⤴︎
  2. W. Va. Code § 61-7-4a. ⤴︎
  3. W. Va. Code § 61-7-4(f). ⤴︎
  4. W. Va. Code § 61-7-4a as enacted by WV H 4145. ⤴︎
  5. See W. Va. Code §§ 61-2-28, 61-2-9(b), (c). ⤴︎
  6. W. Va. Code § 61-7-4. ⤴︎
  7. W. Va. Code § 61-7-4(b). ⤴︎
  8. Id. ⤴︎
  9. See W. Va. Code § 61-7-4. ⤴︎
  10. See W. Va. Code § 61-7-5. ⤴︎
  11. W. Va. Code § 61-7-4 (d) as amended by 2016 WV H 4145. ⤴︎
  12. Id. ⤴︎
  13. W. Va. Code § 61-7-4(g). ⤴︎
  14. W. Va. Code § 61-7-4(a)(9). ⤴︎
  15. W. Va. Code § 61-7-4(m). ⤴︎
  16. Id. ⤴︎
  17. W. Va. Code § 61-7-6(8). The law enacted in 2016 allowing 18 to 21 year-old non-residents to carry with valid out-of-state permits subjects these individuals to the provisions of W. Va. Code § 61-7-6a which specifies that in order for an out-of-state permit to be recognized in West Virginia, the permit-holder must be at least 21 years of age. Despite its apparent contradiction with section 61-7-6, this provision of 61-7-6a was not repealed or amended by 2016 WV H 4145.). ⤴︎
  18. W. Va. Code § 61-7-6a. ⤴︎
  19. W. Va. Code § 61-7-6a(d). ⤴︎
  20. W. Va. Code § 61-7-6a(f). ⤴︎

Dealer Regulations in West Virginia

West Virginia does not require firearms dealers to obtain a state license. However, firearms dealers are subject to state laws governing gun sales generally. See the West Virginia Private Sales section for further information.

Pursuant to the Brady Act, federally licensed firearms dealers must conduct background checks on prospective purchasers each time the dealer transfers a firearm. See the West Virginia Background Checks section.

See our Dealer Regulations policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Disarming Prohibited Persons in West Virginia

West Virginia law authorizes an arresting officer to seize all weapons that are possessed in violation of a valid protective order, subject to the requirements of the state and federal Constitutions.1 See the West Virginia Domestic Violence & Firearms section for further information.

Once an individual has been adjudicated as a mental defective or involuntarily committed to a mental institution, he or she “shall be duly notified” that they are to immediately surrender any firearms in their ownership or possession; provided, however, that the mental hygiene commissioner or circuit judge must first make a determination of the appropriate public or private individual or entity to act as conservator for the surrendered property.2

West Virginia does not have any other laws mandating the surrender or removal of firearms.

Notes
  1. W. Va. Code § 48-27-1002(e)(3). ⤴︎
  2. W. Va. Code § 61-7-7(a)(4). ⤴︎

Domestic Violence & Firearms in West Virginia

West Virginia does not establish a procedure for the removal of firearms from domestic abusers at the time they become prohibited from possessing firearms.

Firearm Prohibitions for Domestic Violence Misdemeanants

No person may possess a firearm who has been convicted of a misdemeanor offense of domestic assault or domestic battery under West Virginia law.1 This prohibition also applies to a person who has been convicted of a federal or state domestic violence statute “with the same essential elements” in which the victim was:

  • A current or former spouse;
  • A current or former sexual or intimate partner;
  • A person with whom the defendant has a child in common;
  • A person with whom the defendant cohabits or has cohabited;
  • A parent or guardian;
  • The defendant’s child or ward; or
  • A member of the defendant’s household at the time of the offense.2

Firearm Prohibitions for Persons Subject to Domestic Violence Restraining/Protective Orders

No person may possess a firearm who is subject to a domestic violence protective order that:

  • Was issued after a hearing of which such person received actual notice and at which such person had an opportunity to participate;
  • Restrains such person from harassing, stalking or threatening an intimate partner or such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and
  • Either includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child, or by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury.3

Furthermore, under a law West Virginia enacted in 2012, a domestic violence protective order must prohibit the respondent from possessing firearms or ammunition.4 The protective order must inform the respondent that he or she is prohibited from possessing any firearm or ammunition and that possession of a firearm or ammunition while subject to the court’s protective order is a criminal offense under state and federal law, notwithstanding the fact that the respondent might otherwise have a right to possess a firearm.5

Upon the filing of a petition for a protective order, the magistrate court may enter an emergency protective order ex parte (without notice and a hearing) upon good cause shown.6 If the court enters an emergency protective order, the order must prohibit the respondent from possessing firearms.7

“Domestic violence” means certain acts of violence between “family or household members.”8 “Family or household members” is defined broadly.9

Under another law West Virginia enacted in 2012, a court that is issuing a temporary “personal safety order” (an order issued against any person who has committed a sexual offense, attempted sexual offense, stalking, or harassment against a victim) may, in its discretion, prohibit the respondent from possessing a firearm if:

  • A weapon was used or threatened to be used in the commission of the offense;
  • The respondent has violated any prior personal safety order; or
  • The respondent has been convicted of an offense involving the use of a firearm.10)

The firearm prohibition is also available in an ex parte personal safety order under the same conditions, if there is reasonable cause to believe the respondent has committed the offense.11
For general information on the background check process and categories of prohibited purchasers/possessors, see the West Virginia Background Checks and West Virginia Prohibited Purchasers Generally sections.

Removal or Surrender of Firearms from the Scene of a Domestic Violence Incident

As necessary for the protection of the officer or other persons, the arresting officer must seize all weapons that are alleged to have been involved or threatened to be used in the commission of domestic violence, and may seize any weapon that is in plain view of the officer or that was discovered pursuant to a consensual search, whenever any person:

  • Is arrested for committing domestic violence pursuant to West Virginia law;
  • Has violated the terms of a protective order issued during divorce, annulment or separation proceedings;12 or
  • Has violated the terms of a protective order issued to protect an individual from abuse.13

See our Domestic Violence and Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

 

Notes
  1. W. Va. Code § 61-7-7(a)(8). See W. Va. Code § 61-2-28. ⤴︎
  2. W. Va. Code §§ 61-2-9(b), (c), 61-7-7(a)(8). ⤴︎
  3. W. Va. Code § 61-7-7(a)(7). ⤴︎
  4. W. Va. Code § 48-27-502(b). ⤴︎
  5. W. Va. Code § 48-27-502(c). ⤴︎
  6. W. Va. Code § 48-27-403(a). ⤴︎
  7. Id. ⤴︎
  8. W. Va. Code § 48-27-202. ⤴︎
  9. W. Va. Code § 48-27-204. ⤴︎
  10. W. Va. Code § 53-8-7(d)(1)(F ⤴︎
  11. W. Va. Code § 53-8-5.(a)(1)(F). ⤴︎
  12. See W. Va. Code § 48-5-509. ⤴︎
  13. W. Va. Code § 48-27-1002(e). See also W. Va. Code § 48-5-608. ⤴︎