What you need to know about owning a gun in West Virginia

Many West Virginia residents own guns. However, if you are a gun owner, it's essential to follow state and federal weapons laws. Our state has the unfortunate distinction of having supplied more guns used in crimes per capita than all but one other state, so those laws are taken seriously by law enforcement officials and prosecutors.

Not everyone is allowed to possess a gun. Those prohibited from having one include anyone who:

-- Is the subject of a protective order based on allegations of domestic violence, or who has been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge

-- Has been found mentally incompetent by a court

-- Has been convicted of a felony

-- Is in this country illegally

Not all types of guns are legal to own. Under both state and federal law, a person can't possess fully automatic weapons, machine and sub-machine guns or silencers.

There are also laws regarding the possession of guns on school property or around school buses. Violations of these laws can carry a prison term of up to a decade as well as a fine of as much as $5,000.

People over 21 in West Virginia are allowed to carry concealed weapons as long as they have a license to do so. The only exception to that age requirement is for people working in law enforcement.

If you've been charged with violating any weapons laws, it's essential to take the charge seriously, because it can have a significant impact on your life. Wheeling criminal defense attorneys can provide guidance and help protect your rights.

Source: FindLaw, "West Virginia Gun Control Laws," accessed Sep. 09, 2016

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