West Virginia is one of the constitutional carry states in the USA.

There are location restrictions for the use of firearms, and types of weapons not permitted in the state.

To open carry in West Virginia, you must be familiar with gun statutes that relate to possession of firearms.

West Virginia Gun Laws Summary

West Virginia issues concealed handgun permits for the possession of firearms in the state.

The sheriff’s office of a local county is responsible for the issuance of firearm permits, and the state has a shall-issue policy.

There are purchase permits to buy firearms, but it is compulsory to complete a criminal record background check except if an individual is buying from a private dealer or has a firearm permit.

West Virginia permit is not available for non-residents of the state, and the age requirement for the permit is twenty-one years old.

Is Open Carry Legal In West Virginia?

Yes. You can open carry if you are eighteen years old or more, and you have no prohibition against possessing firearms.

Open Carry Laws In West Virginia?

West Virginia is a permissive open carry state, and there is no need for a permit to use firearms in the state openly.

There are no ammunition restrictions in West Virginia, but the state prohibits machine guns and semi-automatic firearms in the state.  

West Virginia Open Gun Law Quick View

Law/PolicyLong GunsHandgunsComments
State permit for open carry.NoNoYou do not need a permit to open carry firearms in West Virginia.
Firearm registrations for open carry.NoNoThere are no requirements to register firearms for open carry in the state.
Assault weapon for open carry.NoNoWest Virginia prohibits the manufacture, possession, and use of assault weapons such as machine guns and semi-automatic firearms.
Magazine limitNoNoThere are no magazine limits for ammunition in firearms use in West Virginia.
License for the owner of a firearm.Not requiredNot requiredThere are no requirements to own a license for a firearm in West Virginia.
Red flag lawNoNoWest Virginia does not have red flag laws for the issuance of extreme risk protection orders in the state.
Castle doctrine lawYesYesWest Virginia is a castle doctrine state, and you can stand your ground in your home of residence or anywhere you have legal rights to be.
Background check for private dealersNoNoPrivate dealers of firearms are not under any requirement to run a background check before selling guns in the state.
PreemptionYesYesWest Virginia is a preemption gun law state, with the government reserving all rights to regulate firearms in the state.
Concealed carry permit.NoYesYou can conceal carry with your West Virginia firearm permit.
Concealed carry in personal vehicleNoYesConcealed carry in a vehicle is legal if you have your permit.
Open carry in SchoolsNoNoIt is a prohibition to open carry in schools, colleges, universities, and technical institutions in the state.

Where Is It Legal To Open Carry In West Virginia?

Open carry of firearms is not illegal in the following parts of the state:

  • Restaurants and bars: You can open carry in restaurants areas that do not have signage prohibiting the possession of firearms.
  • Private car: You can open carry or possess firearms in your vehicle or another person’s private vehicle if they give you consent.
  • Roadside areas: You can open carry in roadside areas of West Virginia.
  • State national parks and forests: You can open carry in parks and forests as well as wildlife management of the state.

Where Is It Illegal To Open Carry In West Virginia?

Open carry and possession of firearms are not allowed in the following areas of the state:

  • Schools: It is a prohibition to open carry or possess firearms in schools, primary and secondary, colleges, universities, and other vocational institutions in the state.
  • Courthouses: You cannot open carry and possess firearms in courthouses of the state or other political subdivisions.
  • State capitol building: You cannot open carry or possess firearms in state capitol premises.
  • Prisons: You cannot open carry in prisons, jails, or any other detention facility in the state.
  • Limited buildings: You cannot possess firearms or open carry in any building limited by the state or municipal laws.
  • Private properties: You cannot open carry or possess firearms in private properties that have posts prohibiting the possession of weapons in the state.
  • Prohibited areas: You cannot open carry in any area of the state prohibited by federal or state gun laws.

FAQs About Open Carry West Virginia

Some of the most frequently asked questions about open carry in West Virginia include the following:

Do I Need A Permit To Open Carry In West Virginia?

No, the state does not issue any permit for the open carry of firearms.

Do I Need A Permit For Concealed Carry Of Firearms In West Virginia?

Yes. West Virginia issues firearm licenses to conceal carry in the state.

What Is The Age Requirement For Open Carry In West Virginia?

To open carry in West Virginia, you must be at least eighteen years old.

At What Age Can I Conceal Carry In West Virginia?

The regular age requirement for concealed carry in West Virginia is twenty-one years old.

What Is The Age Requirement To Apply For Firearm License In West Virginia?

To apply for a concealed firearm license in West Virginia, you must be at least twenty-one years old.

However, residents of the state within the age range of eighteen to twenty years old, that wish to conceal carry in the state can apply for a provisional license.

Does West Virginia Have A Red Flag Law In The State?

No. The state gun statutes do not mention red flag laws or the issuance of extreme risk protection orders.

Is West Virginia Firearms Licenses Available To Non-residents Of The State?

No. West Virginia only issues firearm licenses to residents of the state and members of the United States Military posted to the state.

However, non-residents can make use of permits from their states to possess firearms in West Virginia.

Does West Virginia Accept Constitutional Carry In The State?

Yes, West Virginia is a constitutional carry state with the possession of firearms unrestricted in most parts.

Is West Virginia A Preemption Gun Law State?

Yes. The state government gun law supersedes any law enacted by local municipalities. And Municipalities cannot have ordinances that clash with the gun law statutes.

Does West Virginia Allow The Open Carry Of Knives In The State?

Yes. Open carry of Knives is legal in West Virginia as long as you do not have the intention of attacking someone or committing a crime with it.

Is Concealed Carry Of Knives Legal In West Virginia?

Yes, you can legally conceal carry knives and other weapons such as switchblades, butterfly knives, dagger, and stiletto that have blades longer than three and a half inches.

However, if you have any prohibition from possessing firearms in the state or you are less than twenty-one years old, you cannot open carry knives.

Knives or similar weapons with blades less than three and a half inches are illegal in locations off-limit for the possession of firearms in the state.

Local municipalities may also have ordinances for the possession of firearms. An example is Charleston that prohibits switchblades.

Also, bowie knives are illegal in city halls and properties.

Does West Virginia Restrict Firearms In The State?

Yes. You cannot manufacture, buy, or possess firearms like machine guns and semi-automatic weapons in the state, except you are a law officer or a member of the United States Armed Forces.

Does West Virginia Issue A Purchase Permit To Buy Firearms In The State?

No, you do not need a purchase permit to buy firearms in West Virginia.

Is Criminal Record Background Check Compulsory For Firearm Purchase In West Virginia?

It is compulsory to complete a criminal record background check if you are buying a firearm from a federal or state-licensed dealer.

However, private dealers are not under any requirement to complete the check before selling firearms.

Another exemption is those that have the West Virginia concealed firearm permits.

When Will West Virginia Concealed Firearm License Expire?

The validity period of the license is five years, after which you have to apply for a renewal permit.

How Long Will It Take To Process My West Virginia Concealed Firearm License?

The processing period for the firearm permit in West Virginia is forty-five days.

Do I Have A Duty To Inform Law Enforcement Officers About My Possession Of Firearms In West Virginia?

No, you are under no requirement to notify or inform an officer of the law about your possession of firearms when you come across one.

Is West Virginia A Castle Doctrine State?

Yes, the state has castle doctrine law with a stand your ground policy and no duty to retreat in the home of residences and any place where a person has legal rights to be.

Is The Use Of Deadly Force Permitted For Self-defense In West Virginia?

Yes, you can make use of deadly force to prevent an attack that could lead to severe injury or imminent death.

West Virginia law will provide immunity against civil liability for cases of deadly force during self-defense in the state.

Is Firearm Training A Requirement For Obtaining A Firearm Permit In West Virginia?

It is compulsory to complete a firearm training class before you apply for West Virginia permit, except you have passed a similar training as a law enforcement officer or member of the military.

The training must be a licensed one and conducted by a state-certified instructor.

Is It Compulsory To Register Firearms After Purchase In West Virginia?

No. West Virginia gun laws do not have a statute that requires the registration of firearms after purchase in the state.

What Is The Age Requirement For Firearm Possession In West Virginia?

You must be at least eighteen years old before you possess or transport firearms in the state.

Do I Need A West Virginia Concealed Firearm Permit To Possess Firearms In Private Properties?

Except you are in your personal property or building, you must take consent from a landowner before you conceal carry on their property.

Relevant Open Carry Law And Legislature In West Virginia

Gun laws in West Virginia that concern open carry and any other related possession of firearms include the following:

Preemption Gun Laws

West Virginia has preemption gun laws, with the state having the authority to regulate the use of firearms.

However, local laws can regulate the use of firearms in the following places:

  • Possession of firearms in state buildings in the municipality.
  • Enforce the prohibition of firearms in off-limits locations, except the legal concealed carry of weapons in places that are not restricted.
  • Possession of firearms in buildings owned and used by municipalities except for recreational areas.

West Virginia extended the preemption law on the twenty-fourth of June, twenty-twenty to limit local ordinances that restrict the purchase, storage, possession, transfer, and transportation of firearms or similar weapons that conflict with West Virginia gun laws.

Brandishing Of Firearms

It is illegal to brandish firearms in such a way that threatens or causes fear to another person.

It does not matter if the person possesses a firearm legally or if it is loaded or unloaded.

However, this does not include situations of self-defense or the legal use of firearms by law enforcement officers in the state.

Open Carry Of Firearms While Hunting

You can open carry and possess a firearm while hunting or taking part in related activities such as fishing, camping, or hiking.

However, you can only make use of the firearm if you are licensed to do so. For bow hunting, you can only make use of archery equipment.

West Virginia has hunters’ harassment laws in the state.

It is illegal to deliberately disturb or interfere with a licensed hunting activity in the state or related practices like fishing and trapping.

Additional Resources

West Virginia Gun Laws
West Virginia Concealed Carry Laws
West Virginia Gun Permit Laws

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