West Virginia Gun Laws

West Virginia Gun Laws You Need To Know in 2022

For anyone who is thinking about possessing firearms in West Virginia, it would be a good idea to understand the West Virginia gun laws first and this is the right place for it. In this guide, you will explore the relevant gun laws in West Virginia and with it, you will be able to stay out of legal trouble.


West Virginia gun laws are one of the least strict in the United States. It is also one of the many constitutional carry states that don’t require you to have a permit to carry a firearm. However, you do need to be at least 18 years old to be legally entitled to carry and possess a firearm under state and federal law.

If you want to conceal carry without a license, be sure that you are 21 years or older. If you are between 18 to 20 years old and want to conceal carry, you will need to obtain a Provisional concealed handgun license (CHL). But, you will be allowed to open carry even with or without a provisional license.

How Reciprocity Works in West Virginia

The state of West Virginia has a valid reciprocity agreement with many other states and West Virginia honors non-resident and resident CCW licenses from states that are on the state’s reciprocity list.

However, it is only valid if the permit holder is twenty-one years old and above. The honoring of out-of-state CCW licenses is no longer relevant in West Virginia as it is a permitless carry state.

There are many state’s concealed carry licenses that West Virginia will honor and likewise, there are many states that honors a West Virginia permit too.

However, there are some states like California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington, that have stricter laws so a West Virginia license will not be honored.

West Virginia Concealed Handgun License

Even though West Virginia is a constitutional carry state, it still issues concealed carry permits to those who apply for it. There are two types of licenses issued by West Virginia and they are:

  • Provisional license. This is for any person aged between 18 to 21 and it remains valid for 3 years and it will expire when the licensee turns 21 years old.
  • Optional license. This is issued for 5 years to any person that meets the requirements and has a minimum age of 21.

You should also be aware that West Virginia does not issue concealed handgun permits to non-residents and only to residents of the state and members of the United States Military posted to the state.

License requirements

To obtain a West Virginia concealed carry license, you will need to meet the following criteria:

  • You need to be at least twenty-one years of age.
  • You are a legal resident in the state of West Virginia on the date of the application and are required to provide a valid driver’s license or other state-issued photo identification showing residency.
  • You are not a person who is addicted to alcohol, a controlled substance, or a drug and isn’t an unlawful user of the said substances within the three years immediately prior to the application.
  • You have not been convicted of a felony, unless the conviction has been expunged or set aside.
  • You have not been convicted of misdemeanor crimes.
  • You are not under an emergency or temporary domestic violence protective order.
  • You are not adjudicated to be mentally incompetent or involuntarily committed to a mental institution.
  • You have successfully gone through a firearm training course.

License applications

In order to get a West Virginia concealed carry license, you will need to go through the following steps:

  1. Go through firearm training.
  2. Download the application form online.
  3. Provide the following documents:
    • Completed application form
    • Firearm course successful completion certificate
    • State drivers license/ID card

Once those steps have been completed, you can file your application at the sheriff’s office in the county that you are staying in. The county sheriff will inform you when your permit is ready to be collected.

License renewals

For renewal applications of your permit, you will need to prepare your existing permit and West Virginia license. In addition, you are required to sign the renewal application in front of a notary. Finally, a NICS background check will be conducted for all renewals.


To obtain a concealed handgun permit in West Virginia, you will need to pay a fee. For an optional CHL, the application will cost you $75 while the renewal for this permit is $75 too. On the other hand, a provisional CHL will cost you $25 and no renewal fees because this permit is not renewable.

Do note that there will be an additional fee for background checks that are required to be paid when you collect your permit. This will cost you $25 and $15 for the optional and provisional CHL respectively.

Places Off-Limits For Concealed Carry in West Virginia

West Virginia might be a constitutional carry state, but that doesn’t mean that you can conceal or open carry anywhere. Here are the places in West Virginia that you can’t conceal or open carry:

  • You are not allowed to conceal or open carry in the State Capitol Complex. However, permittees are allowed to keep a firearm in their motor vehicle as long as it’s locked and the weapon is out of sight.
  • You are prohibited from possessing or carrying firearms in regional jails, detention facilities, or State Division of Corrections facilities.
  • You cannot conceal or open carry in county courthouses or any facility housing a court of the West Virginia state.
  • You are not allowed to conceal or open carry in a school bus or any public primary or secondary education building, structure, facility, or grounds. This means that you are also not allowed to conceal or open carry in a vocational education building, structure, facility, or areas where secondary vocational education programs are conducted or at a school-sponsored function, or in or on a private primary or secondary education facility, structure or building.
  • You are prohibited by the West Virginia law to conceal or open carry in any building or area limited by municipal code. Do note that some municipalities may have further handgun restrictions. Before you carry a handgun in a West Virginia municipality, be sure to ask about such laws with the appropriate city attorney’s office.
  • You cannot conceal or open carry in a property where firearms are prohibited by the owner, the person leasing or charged with the care, custody, and control of the real property.
  • You are not allowed to conceal or open carry at places with signs posted indicating weapon restrictions.

Places Where Concealed Carry is Allowed in West Virginia

While there are places that don’t allow you to conceal or open carry, there are still places that allow it and you can feel free to do so. Here are the places in West Virginia that allow you to conceal or open carry:

  • State parks
  • State and national forests
  • Roadside rest areas
  • Private vehicle
  • Restaurants and bars that don’t have signage prohibiting the possession of firearms
  • Everywhere else that is not listed as off-limits

Handgun Laws To Know

With a better understanding of the concealed firearm permit in West Virginia, it is time to explore more about the West Virginia gun laws.

Vehicle Carry

You are not required to have a CHL in order to carry a concealed firearm in a private vehicle, but you do need to be at least twenty-one years old, a United States citizen, and are not restricted from possessing firearms under state and federal laws.

If you are a member of the military and are aged 18 and above, then you may carry in a vehicle with just your military ID.

Must Notify Law Enforcement Officer

There isn’t a law in West Virginia that requires you to inform law enforcement officers that you possess firearms even when the West Virginia state police or law enforcement officers are approaching on official business. There is also no law that states you must carry your valid concealed carry permit with you at all times.

Open Carry

It is legal in West Virginia to open carry even without a state permit, but not allowed in places that the law prohibits. Municipalities are also allowed to enforce local ordinances to ban the open carry of firearms in a municipally-owned recreation facility.


Now that you’ve come to the end of this guide, we believe that you are well aware of the local laws regarding the carry and use of firearms. Be sure to oblige every law in order to stay out of legal trouble.


What kind of training do I need to complete?

If you want to apply for an optional or provisional CHL, you must provide proof that you have successfully gone through one of the following courses:

  • Any official National Rifle Association (NRA) handgun safety or training course.
  • Any handgun training or safety course or class available to the general public offered by an official law enforcement organization, community college, junior college, college or private or public institution or organization or handgun training school utilizing instructors duly certified by the institution.
  • Any course or class conducted by a handgun instructor certified by the State or by the NRA.
  • For optional concealed weapons permits, any proof of handgun qualification received from or class or course conducted by any branch of the United States military, reserve, or National Guard.
  • For provisional CHLs, any proof of current or former service in the United States armed forces, reserves, or National Guard.

Applicants must also provide a photocopy of a certificate of course completion, an affidavit from the instructor, or some form of document that verifies they have successfully completed the required course to obtain a permit.

The document must come with the instructor’s name, signature, and NRA or state instructor identification number, if applicable.

What is the processing time for my CHL?

It will usually take about 45 days for the CHL in West Virginia to be processed.

Can a CHL be revoked?

Yes. If you violate any law or the application requirements then your CHL can and will be revoked.

Is there a red flag law in WV?

No, there aren’t red flag laws in the state or the issuance of extreme risk protection orders.

Is there a state preemption gun law in WV?

Yes. The state law supersedes any law enacted by local municipalities and the municipalities are not allowed to have ordinances that clash with the gun law statutes.

Am I allowed to open carry knives in WV?

Yes. It is legal for the open carry of knives in the state, as long as you don’t have the intention of attacking someone or committing a crime with it.

Is concealed carry of knives legal in West Virginia?

Yes. Like the open carry of knives, it is also legal to conceal carry knives in West Virginia. Other weapons like switchblades, butterfly knives, dagger, and stiletto that have blades longer than three and a half inches are also legal to conceal carry.

But, if you are restricted to possess firearms or don’t meet the age requirements, then it will be illegal to conceal or open carry knives. It is also illegal to carry bowie knives in a city hall or on private property.

Is West Virginia a castle doctrine state?

Yes. West Virginia has a castle doctrine law with a stand your ground policy. This means that you have no duty to retreat from your residence and any place where a person has legal rights to be.

Is the use of deadly force permitted for self-defense in West Virginia?

Yes. The use of deadly force is permitted for the purpose of self-defense or to prevent an attack that could lead to severe injury or imminent death. The law in West Virginia will grant immunity against civil liability for using deadly weapons in a defensive situation.

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