While many adults in West Virginia are eligible to own and possess a firearm, some people lose their right to gun ownership if certain circumstances warrant it. It is important to understand what state law says about people who cannot own a firearm. If law enforcement catches you with a gun when the law forbids you to have it, it could result in serious legal consequences.

West Virginia law bans firearm possession in a number of different scenarios. A person who suffers from an alcohol or drug addiction loses their right to own a firearm. The law bars firearm possession for individuals confined to a mental institution or otherwise deemed mentally incompetent. Illegal aliens also cannot have firearms. Additionally, a person dishonorably discharged from the military may not possess a firearm.

Criminal backgrounds or judicial proceedings may also cause someone to lose the right to have a gun. These include people who have served over a year in prison. Additionally, the law bars people under domestic violence protective orders whom a court determines to be credible threats to family members. People who have committed felonies, such as acts of violence or drug possessions, also lose their gun rights.

Some people may not understand that even pleading guilty to a crime may cause the loss of their gun rights. Entering into a plea bargain for a lesser charge or sentence may still result in you pleading guilty to a crime that causes you to become a “prohibited person,” someone who cannot possess a firearm in West Virginia. For this reason, some people choose to fight charges in court instead of accepting a bargain that could restrict their rights.