West Virginia Gun Laws


West Virginia is surrounded by Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia. Due to the positioning of the state, it is often included in multiple regions of the United States, including, the South and the Mid-Atlantic.

A. State Constitution

Regarding the right to bear arms, the West Virginia Constitution states:

“A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, and for lawful hunting and recreational use.”


B. Scope of Preemption

The controlling language of West Virginia’s preemption statute is set forth as follows:

“Neither a municipality nor the governing body of any municipality may limit the right of any person to purchase, possess, transfer, own, carry, transport, sell or store any revolver, pistol, rifle or shotgun or any ammunition or ammunition components to be used therewith nor to so regulate the keeping of gunpowder so as to directly or indirectly prohibit the ownership of the ammunition.”


C. Reciprocal Carry

By statute, West Virginia will recognize another state’s license to carry if that state recognizes West Virginia’s license:

“A holder of a valid out-of-state permit or license to carry a concealed handgun, as issued by another state with which the State of West Virginia has executed a reciprocity agreement, shall be recognized as valid in this state, if the following conditions are met: (1) The permit or license holder is 21 years or older; (2) The permit or license is in his or her immediate possession; (3) The permit or license holder is not a resident of the State of West Virginia; and, (4) The State of West Virginia has executed a valid and effective reciprocity agreement with the issuing state pertaining to the carrying and verification of concealed handgun licenses and permits issued in the respective states. (b) A holder of a valid permit or license from another state who is authorized to carry a concealed handgun in this state pursuant to provisions of this section is subject to the same laws and restrictions with respect to carrying a concealed handgun as a resident of West Virginia who is so permitted, and must carry the concealed handgun in compliance with the laws of this state.”


Since there is no national carry license, as with the other states, some states are reciprocal with West Virginia and some are not. Anyone contemplating reciprocal carry should check with the official list maintained by the West Virginia Attorney General at the point in time the reciprocal carry is to occur. States add anddelete states with reciprocity agreements over time.  A list of states which Virginia has a reciprocal carry agreement with can be accessed at: [http://budurl.me/glbs188]

D. Criminal Provisions

Under West Virginia law, a license to carry a handgun is not valid in any of the following places or circumstances, whether it is issued by West Virginia, or a person is carrying pursuant to a reciprocity between his or her state of license and West Virginia:

  • Brandish or use a firearm in a way or manner to cause, or threaten, a breach of the peace
  • On any school bus
  • State capital complex
  • Courthouse
  • Jails, detention facilities, or State Division of Correctional Facilities
  • A public or private elementary or secondary education building, grounds, structure, or facility, or at any school-sponsored function
  • Where the owner, or lessee of private property has prohibited the carrying of any firearm