“If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” Many people in West Virginia know this saying; it is well-known and well-used by the National Rifle Association and gun owners across the nation. As the decades-long debate continues over gun control, it is important that gun owners and collectors know the laws in the Mountain State to avoid violations.

According to FindLaw, there is a federal ban on fully automatic weapons, silencers and machine guns that applies to West Virginia as well. Barring those types of weapons, this state is No. 2 in the nation in supplying guns used in crimes. Many who favor stricter gun laws would argue that this distinction is due, at least in part, to the fact that the state does not require a waiting period for those who buy guns.

State law allows anyone 21 and older to apply for a concealed-carry license for handguns. Those 18 to 21 can also seek a license if they have a job that requires a gun, specifically police officers. Those with concealed-carry licenses from other states may carry here as well.

Those who can’t carry, or even own, a gun in the Mountain State include anyone convicted of a felony, those with drug or alcohol addictions and minors. Also under the ban are:

  • Dishonorably discharged service men and women
  • Those found by law to be mentally incompetent
  • Undocumented persons (those illegally living in the U.S.)
  • Those with a protective order against them for domestic violence
  • Anyone with a misdemeanor conviction of battery or assault of another household member

Those with a gun on school grounds or buses can be charged with felony possession, which is punishable by 2-10 years in prison, as well as a fine up to the amount of $5,000. Exceptions are made for school resource officers and specific mascots, as well as unloaded guns used in a raffle display or that are kept locked in a car in the parking lot.

Those charged with a gun violation who wish to have their rights reinstated should speak with a criminal defense attorney. Rights can be restored to those who are successful in having their conviction expunged or pardoned.

This article on gun rights in West Virginia is informational. It is not meant to be considered legal advice.