Despite being considered tricky to understand, West Virginia knife laws are pretty liberal and straightforward than most people think them to be.
There are no legal limitations on the type of knives you can own in this state. In fact, you are free to open carry knives of any length. The only limitations come from the concealed carry of a knife, and this is what we are going to explore in this article.
West Virginia Knife Laws – An Overview
This southern US state happens to be the 38th most populous and 41st largest state in the country. Known for its rolling hills and mountains, there are significant coal mining and logging industries in this state, whose capital is Charleston.
The state of West Virginia allows you to own any type of knife you want and also has no restrictions on the open carry of these knives, as long as they are not used for harming anyone. However, when it comes to the concealed carry of these knives, the law puts you on hold.
You cannot conceal carry a knife whose blade is longer than 3.5” (8.89 cm) if you don’t have a permit for carrying concealed weapons.
In addition, due to the absence of pre-emption knife laws in the state, local governments have the authority to make the knife ordinances even stricter than the state law, although most of them imitate the law imposed by the state.
Nonetheless, if you are a resident of West Virginia, or are planning to move there soon, or travel there, you must make yourself acquainted with the knife laws of not only the state but also the county and municipality you will be living on or visiting.
Types of Legal Knives in West Virginia
West Virginia knife law states that it is legal to own any type of knife or bladed instrument without any limitations. We have prepared a list of the legal knives that you can own and openly carry in West Virginia. They are as follows:
- Bowie Knives
- KA-BAR Knives
- Sword Canes
- Lipstick Knives
- Hunting Knives
- Throwing Knives
- Throwing Stars
- Utility Knives
- Automatic Knives
- Gravity Knives
- Balisong Knives
- Ballistic Knives
It should be noted that ballistic knives, which are banned in many US states, can be legally owned, bought, possessed, manufactured, and sold in West Virginia. Remember, these aforementioned knives can be carried openly as long as they are not intended to hurt anyone.
Types of Illegal Knives in West Virginia
Speaking of the illegal knives in West Virginia, the first one that comes on the list is trench knives from World War I because there is a parallel ban of metal knuckles. These knives are identified by the metal finger rings on them.
Deadly Weapons in West Virginia
The West Virginia knife laws clearly define what a deadly weapon is. Knives with a blade length of less than 3.5” (8.89 cm) such as pocketknives, recreational knives, fishing knives, or hunting knives are not considered deadly weapons as long as they are being used for their appropriate purposes. You can carry these knives without a permit.
However, all other knives, whose blade length is more than 3.5” (8.89 cm) such as dirks, daggers, switchblades, stilettos, gravity knives, poniards, etc., are considered deadly weapons, and cannot be carried in a concealed form.
Limitations of the Length of Knives in West Virginia
As we have stated above, there are no restrictions or limitations on the length of knives that you can carry in an open state in West Virginia. The limitations arise when it comes to the concealed carry of these knives.
The West Virginia knife laws state that you can only carry knives in a concealed form as long as they are 3.5” (8.89 cm) or shorter.
Penalties for Violating the Limitations on the Length of Concealed Carrying of Knives
As per Section §61-7-3, anyone carrying a concealed weapon that is longer than 3.5” (8.89 cm) with a permit will be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction will be fined between $100-1,000 along with an imprisonment of up to 12 months if it’s a first-time offense.
If the same crime is committed as a second-time or subsequent offense, and he or she is guilty of the felony, then upon conviction, they may be imprisoned to a state correctional facility for a period of 1-5 years and fined between $1,000-5,000.
Restricted Places to Carry Knives in West Virginia
Legal knives can be carried anywhere openly around the state of West Virginia (unless the local ordinance state otherwise), as long as they are not used to harm or threaten anybody.
However, there are few restricted places wherein you can’t carry knives in any shape or form. They are as follows:
- School Grounds
- Certain Posted Government Buildings
Open Carry v/s Concealed Carry of Knives in West Virginia
There are no restrictions on the open carry of knives in West Virginia. In fact, West Virginia is one of the most liberal states when it comes to the open carry of knives.
However, coming to concealed carry of knives, you have to follow certain rules and regulations. You need to ensure that the length of the blade of your knife is not more than 3.5” (8.89 cm); else you will have to incur penalties, which have been already stated above in our ‘Penalties for Violating the Limitations on the Length of Concealed Carrying of Knives’ section.
As there is no pre-emption in this state, the different local ordinances can practice stricter or more liberal laws than the West Virginia knife law, although that’s a rarity.
Permit for Carrying Concealed Weapons
In order to carry a knife that is longer than the said size in a concealed form, one has to obtain a permit as stated in §61-7-4 of the West Virginia Code.
These permits can be given to only those who are 21 years of age or older. In addition, they must not have any addiction to any type of liquor or drugs and have no more than one DUI (Driving Under Influence) in the past three years; and have no felony misdemeanor or misdemeanor convictions in the last five years. You also must not have any record of involuntary admission or mental incompetence to a mental hospital. Lastly, you also have to go through and pass a criminal background check.
Valid for a period of five years, you have to pay $75 to the local sheriff’s office before meeting the aforementioned set of qualifications in order to obtain the permit.
West Virginia knife laws are pretty straightforward and in fact, one of the most liberal ones in the country. You are free to openly carry virtually all kinds of knives (except trench knives) here.
But, the concealed carry of weapons is only allowed for knives that have a blade length of 3.5” (8.89 cm) or shorter. Failure to follow through with this rule will eventually lead to a set of penalties that involve both monetary fines and imprisonment. For carrying blades that are more than the said size, you need to have a permit.
As with most other states, you can’t carry these knives (both in open or concealed form) in places such as school premises, courtrooms, and a few government-posted buildings.
The West Virginia knife laws don’t have pre-emption and the local governments have the authority to make the laws stricter or more liberal, although most of them keep it the same as the state laws. This is why a detailed knowledge of the law is needed for safeguarding one’s interest.