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West Virginia Gun Laws and How They Compare Nationally

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By    |   Friday, 17 Apr 2015 04:27 PM

Gun laws vary greatly from sate to state and what may be lawful in West Virginia may be unlawful in another state. If you're traveling with a firearm, it's important to become familiar with such laws.

The laws regarding carrying of a firearm either openly or concealed, including carrying in a vehicle, can be different depending if a person has a permit. The regulations governing how a permit is issued will also vary greatly from state to state.

West Virginia is one of 29 other states nationally that have open carry allowances for handguns, although specific laws are dependent on the state. In West Virginia, a permit is not required to carry a handgun openly provided that a person is 18 years of age or older, may lawfully possess the firearm, and obeys all applicable laws.

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West Virginia is leading the way in regards to conservative gun legislation for permission to carry a handgun openly without a permit, although there are some municipalities that have open carry bans in municipally owned or operated buildings.

A resident of West Virginia who wants to carry a handgun concealed must obtain a concealed handgun license (CHL) by applying through the Sheriff's Office in the county in which they reside.

The applicant must be at least 21 years of age (although a person who is 18 years of age is eligible if employed in a job requiring carrying a concealed handgun). West Virginia does have mandated training for the permit.

To fulfill the training requirement, the applicant must successfully complete a handgun safety course (which includes firing a handgun) conducted by a handgun instructor certified by the state or National Rifle Association, or have received training in the United States Military. A background check on the applicant is conducted as well.

The permit will allow a resident to carry a loaded firearm concealed on or about their person provided that it remains hidden from ordinary observation. There are specific prohibited carry locations which the permit holder should be familiar with.

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Places off-limits even with a permit may differ from state to state, as does the recognition of the permit in states outside the resident state in which the permit was issued.

Specific to a motor vehicle, a West Virginia resident with a permit may carry a loaded, concealed handgun for defensive purposes. If a resident does not have a permit, the defensive handgun must be in plain view and unloaded.

The term "unloaded" in West Virginia includes having a loaded magazine not in or attached to the firearm. A person should be mindful that if they are carrying an unconcealed handgun and are stopped by a law enforcement officer, the presence of the handgun may attract attention.

To avoid attention, it may be better to choose to comply with the Federal law of having the unloaded firearm in a locked container not readily accessible by any of the occupants (excluding the glove box or console) such as the trunk, completely separated from ammunition.

Compared nationally, there are 35 other states that recognize the West Virginia CHL. West Virginia only honors permits from other states that also recognize the validity of their resident’s permits. Wisconsin only recognizes permits issued after June 8, 2012.

This article does not constitute legal advice. Check the current gun laws before purchasing or traveling with a firearm.

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Gun laws vary greatly from sate to state and what may be lawful in West Virginia may be unlawful in another state. If you're traveling with a firearm, it's important to become familiar with such laws.
west virginia gun laws, compare, nationally
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2015-27-17
Friday, 17 Apr 2015 04:27 PM
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