Most in Wheeling likely do not need to be reminded that the right to bear arms is constitutional. If there is any question about the legal implications of owning a firearm, state law makes that right very clear. In Section 67-7-1 of the West Virginia Code, it states that the state's citizenry overwhelmingly supports this right. At the same time, it is also recognized that the state needs to reasonably regulate this right. This means that while most local citizens are allowed to own guns, the state has imposed certain limitations to this right.
Those limitations are outlined in Section 61.7.7 of the state's law stipulating crimes and their punishment. According to this statute, the following people are prohibited from owning firearms:
- One who has been convicted of a crime punishable by a prison term of more than one year
- One who is shown to be habitually addicted to alcohol or a controlled substance
- One who has been judged to be mentally incompetent
- One who is in the United States unlawfully
- One who has been dishonorably discharged from military service
- One who is subject to a protective order related to domestic violence
Typically, if one whose situation is described in the aforementioned scenarios is arrested for weapons possessions, he or she will typically face a misdemeanor charge. However, there are certain scenarios where such an arrest could result in a felony conviction. People who have been previously convicted of a felony sexual offense or a felony crime against another, or of a felony offense involving a Schedule I, II or III controlled substance (according to the state's drug schedules) will face felony offenses if arrested while in possession of a deadly weapon.