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Thread: Car carry in WV

  1. #1
    Regular Member pro2A's Avatar
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    I'm I correct in assuming that I can carry in a car in WV without a permit as long as it's visible?

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    pro2A wrote:
    I'm I correct in assuming that I can carry in a car in WV without a permit as long as it's visible?
    Short answer: No. There are two statutes in place which prohibit ANY transport of a loaded firearm in a vehicle except with a valid CHL while the firearm is concealed. Bolded sections are mine.

    §20-2-5. Unlawful methods of hunting and fishing and other unlawful acts.

    Except as authorized by the director, it is unlawful at any time for any person to:

    (9) Have in his or her possession a crossbow with a nocked bolt, a loaded firearm or a firearm from the magazine of which all shells and cartridges have not been removed, in or on any vehicle or conveyance, or its attachments, within the state, except as may otherwise be provided by law or regulation. Except as hereinafter provided, between five o'clock postmeridian of one day and seven o'clock antemeridian, eastern standard time of the day following, any unloaded firearm or crossbow, being lawfully carried in accordance with the foregoing provisions, shall be so carried only when in a case or taken apart and securely wrapped. During the period from the first day of July to the thirtieth day of September, inclusive, of each year, the foregoing requirements relative to carrying certain unloaded firearms are permissible only from eight-thirty o'clock postmeridian to five o'clock antemeridian, eastern standard time: Provided, That the time periods for carrying unloaded and uncased firearms are extended for one hour after the postmeridian times and one hour before the antemeridian times established above if a hunter is preparing to or in the process of transporting or transferring the firearms to or from a hunting site, campsite, home or other place of abode;

    §20-2-6a. Carrying a concealed handgun.
    (a) Notwithstanding any provision of this code to the contrary, a person licensed to carry a concealed weapon pursuant to the provisions of section four, article seven, chapter sixty-one of this code who is not prohibited at the time from possessing a firearm pursuant to the provisions of section seven, article seven, chapter sixty-one of this code or by any applicable federal law may carry a handgun in a concealed manner for self defense purposes while afield hunting, hiking, camping or in or on a motor vehicle.


    Granted these are in the Natural Rescources section of the WV Code which deals with hunting, fishing and trapping. However there is case law to back up the no loaded firearms in a vehicle, Here is the relevant case. This too focuses more on the hunting aspect, but several passages lean toward a more general prohibition of carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle. These passages specifically:

    The State has a legitimate police power interest in protecting its citizens from the dangers of transporting loaded firearms. Prohibiting the vehicular transportation of loaded firearms is the only manner in which citizens can be protected from the potential discharge of loaded firearms in vehicles.
    As noted above, the only manner in which to protect individuals from the accidental discharge of loaded firearms transported in vehicles is to require all such weapons to be unloaded. Thus, we hold that the provisions of W. Va. Code 20-2-5(10) prohibiting the vehicular transportation of a loaded firearm do not violate the right to keep and bear arms for lawful hunting purposes enunciated in W. Va. Constitution Article III, Section 22.
    The National Rifle Association of America [NRA] recognizes the dangers involved in transporting a loaded firearm in a vehicle and specifically recommends against this practice. See, e.g., NRA Hunter Services Division, National Rifle Association of America, Firearm Safety and the Hunter (n.d.) (cautioning "[w]hen a gun is being carried in a vehicle . . . follow these rules of safe gun handling: e sure the gun is unloaded"; also advising hunters to "[a]lways unload your gun before entering your vehicle").

    Unless you are interested in being the test case which answers the question of carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle I would advise against open carrying in a vehicle. If you have your LTCF (*and there is absolutely no reason not to!) then once you pass through Maryland, stop at the rest area, strap up and pull your shirt over it while you are driving. When you get out of your car, tuck your shirt in.

    While I don't suggest doing this, it would be completely possible to open carry while you are driving and if you are pulled over simply slip your shirt over your gun before he reaches your car.

    If I ever win the lottery and have more money than I can spend, then perhaps I'll be willing to be the test case. But as long as I have to work for a living I think I'll just cover it up until we can get the law fixed.

    *personal opinion there

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    Open carry in a vehicle in WV .....IS legal as long as it is "for the purpose of self defense only." HOWEVER.....if it is WV DNR that pulls you over , your "self-defense" handgun better not have an exceptionally long barrel or a scope as these 'distinctions' are cited by DNR as someone that may be poaching/taking game illegally. Please refer to WV DNR website for these distinctions.....information below is copied straight from the WV State Police Website.


    Q. Is it lawful to carry weapons (e.g. rifles, shotguns, and pistols) in my vehicle when I travel in West Virginia?

    A. Individuals who possess a valid concealed carry permit may carry a concealed handgun in a motor vehicle for purpose of self defense only. West Virginia permits anyone who can lawfully possess a handgun to carry an unconcealed handgun. If you choose to carry an unconcealed handgun in your vehicle and are stopped by a law-enforcement officer, you must understand that that the weapon will immediately attract the attention of the police officer. The presence of the weapon may lead to action by the officer to ensure his or her safety such as the drawing of his or her weapon, ordering you from the vehicle, and/or performing a pat-down search. Weapons intended for hunting must be unloaded and in a case when transported in a vehicle. It is strongly recommended that, if you do not have a valid concealed carry permit, while traveling in a vehicle, that all firearms be unloaded and cased in a location in the vehicle that is not readily accessible to any of the occupants. Any ammunition should be stored in a separate location from the firearm.

    ***Underline*** by myself to point out specific relevant information regarding posted topic.


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    Maverick wrote:
    Open carry in a vehicle in WV .....IS legal as long as it is "for the purpose of self defense only." HOWEVER.....if it is WV DNR that pulls you over , your "self-defense" handgun better not have an exceptionally long barrel or a scope as these 'distinctions' are cited by DNR as someone that may be poaching/taking game illegally. Please refer to WV DNR website for these distinctions.....information below is copied straight from the WV State Police Website.


    Q. Is it lawful to carry weapons (e.g. rifles, shotguns, and pistols) in my vehicle when I travel in West Virginia?

    A. Individuals who possess a valid concealed carry permit may carry a concealed handgun in a motor vehicle for purpose of self defense only. West Virginia permits anyone who can lawfully possess a handgun to carry an unconcealed handgun. If you choose to carry an unconcealed handgun in your vehicle and are stopped by a law-enforcement officer, you must understand that that the weapon will immediately attract the attention of the police officer. The presence of the weapon may lead to action by the officer to ensure his or her safety such as the drawing of his or her weapon, ordering you from the vehicle, and/or performing a pat-down search. Weapons intended for hunting must be unloaded and in a case when transported in a vehicle. It is strongly recommended that, if you do not have a valid concealed carry permit, while traveling in a vehicle, that all firearms be unloaded and cased in a location in the vehicle that is not readily accessible to any of the occupants. Any ammunition should be stored in a separate location from the firearm.

    ***Underline*** by myself to point out specific relevant information regarding posted topic.

    The contention is whether statutes contained in 20-2-5 & 6a apply only when hunting or not. The way the statue reads it is an unlawful act to carry a loaded gun unless you posses a concealed carry license and the gun is carried in a concealed manner. It is spelled out very clearly, from my point of view. Specifically "may carry a handgun in a concealed manner for self defense purposes while afield hunting, hiking, camping or in or on a motor vehicle...." lists 4 things that you may not do while carrying a firearm openly. It doesn't say "While hunting from while in or on a motor vehicle" it says specifically "in or on a motor vehicle". Nor does it give limitations such as "within state game lands, parks or hunting, hiking or camping areas".

    To my understanding the police are not limited in which areas of the law they may enforce. Nowhere, to my knowledge, does it say Sheriff Deputies may not enforce laws pertaining to Natural Resources. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that since a) the prohibition of openly carrying a loaded firearm in or on a motor vehicle is specifically spelled out and backed by case law interpreting the statute and b) that the police may enforce all illegal activities, regardless of their location in the state code, one may not openly carry a loaded firearm in or on a motor vehicle. Also the only lawful manner of carrying a loaded firearm in or on a motor vehicle is for that firearm to be concealed and the carrier to be in possession of a Concealed Handgun License.

    A FAQ on the state police website, in my opinion, does not trump established law. While it may be the case that a Trooper, Deputy or Officer may not choose to apply 20-2-5 & 6a if he sees a person openly carrying in or on a motor vehicle, it does not mean the officer cannot.

    What I would love to find is a case where Joe Smith was driving down Rt.9, was pulled over for a traffic violation, was also cited for openly carrying without a CHL and an eventual court dismissed the charge and clarified the existing statute on whether 20-2-5 & 6a applies to someone going about their daily business and not hunting, hiking, camping or in/on a motor vehicle.

    I've yet to find such a case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shallnotbeinfringed View Post
    Maverick wrote:
    The contention is whether statutes contained in 20-2-5 & 6a apply only when hunting or not. The way the statue reads it is an unlawful act to carry a loaded gun unless you posses a concealed carry license and the gun is carried in a concealed manner. It is spelled out very clearly, from my point of view. Specifically "may carry a handgun in a concealed manner for self defense purposes while afield hunting, hiking, camping or in or on a motor vehicle...." lists 4 things that you may not do while carrying a firearm openly. It doesn't say "While hunting from while in or on a motor vehicle" it says specifically "in or on a motor vehicle". Nor does it give limitations such as "within state game lands, parks or hunting, hiking or camping areas".

    To my understanding the police are not limited in which areas of the law they may enforce. Nowhere, to my knowledge, does it say Sheriff Deputies may not enforce laws pertaining to Natural Resources. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that since a) the prohibition of openly carrying a loaded firearm in or on a motor vehicle is specifically spelled out and backed by case law interpreting the statute and b) that the police may enforce all illegal activities, regardless of their location in the state code, one may not openly carry a loaded firearm in or on a motor vehicle. Also the only lawful manner of carrying a loaded firearm in or on a motor vehicle is for that firearm to be concealed and the carrier to be in possession of a Concealed Handgun License.

    A FAQ on the state police website, in my opinion, does not trump established law. While it may be the case that a Trooper, Deputy or Officer may not choose to apply 20-2-5 & 6a if he sees a person openly carrying in or on a motor vehicle, it does not mean the officer cannot.

    What I would love to find is a case where Joe Smith was driving down Rt.9, was pulled over for a traffic violation, was also cited for openly carrying without a CHL and an eventual court dismissed the charge and clarified the existing statute on whether 20-2-5 & 6a applies to someone going about their daily business and not hunting, hiking, camping or in/on a motor vehicle.

    I've yet to find such a case.
    Bro, you are paranoid. It is there in black and white... Print the FAQ out and keep it with you if you are worried.

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    Unfortunately, should things go wrong, the judge will not be reading from the WV State Police's FAQ page. I would suggest getting your permit for vehicle carry until this gets cleared up in the legislature.

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    Some of the case law -- tough read but worth your time:

    Petition for Writ of Prohibition

    Justice Mayarnd's Dissent

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    The fix is in, HB 2572. It is currently before the House Judiciary Committee for review with about 15 other pro gun bills. If you haven't called the house judiciary committee, and urged them to get this legislation on the floor for a vote please do.

    But back to the legality of OC in a vehicle in WV:

    1. You mention jurisdiction, I have never seen any law limiting a WVDNR officer's jurisdiction. Can anyone please cite code, court case, etc.?

    2. Code is code. It doesn't matter if it is cited in WVDNR hunting regulations or the WV State Police website. Both agencies are simply stating their interpretation of the law, and if you think the courts have it together then you did not read the "Writ of Prohibition" in my previous post.

    3. Something is not legal if it's only a "misdemeanor" offense. The question was is OC legal in a vehicle in WV, and I cannot in good conscience tell someone it is until it's 100% legal.

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    Chances are that it would not create a precedent as you might think. Chances are that it would be heard in magistrate court, and that is NOT a court of record, so the outcome will NOT help the next guy to see the same charges. I guess if you hired an attorney and wanted to spend major bucks, then you could get your precedent, but chances are it's not going to happen. And this topic was dead for almost 3.5 years.

    By all means, if you want to be the test case, go for it. I personally car carry, but I also have a permit, but did so before the permit also, playing the odds. But remember, to set a precedent or make case law, you will have to hire a lawyer and have it transferred to circuit court (you can self represent in circuit court, but that would be super foolish.)

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