When it comes to defending yourself with a firearm, one thing you’re going to have to put up with is lots and lots of laws. What it takes to carry concealed, where you can carry it, and most importantly, where you cannot.
Tasers are decent defensive tools that aren’t subject to nearly as many laws overall as firearms are, but the downside is that every state still has its own laws governing them. Worse yet, they still aren’t legal everywhere! How about West Virginia? Are Tasers legal in West Virginia?
Yes, tasers are completely legal to purchase, possess and carry in the state of West Virginia. You won’t need a concealed weapons permit either, and can take your taser with you as long as it is only for lawful purposes of self-defense.
That is definitely good news for anyone who might be better served by a taser than some other weapon. However you might feel about them, there is no denying that tasers offer unique defensive capability.
That said, many of the laws governing dangerous and deadly weapons still affect tasers and so you will need to know what they are. I’ll tell you all about them down below.
How are Tasers Classified in West Virginia?
Tasers and stun guns do not have a specific definition under West Virginia Code Chapter 61 Article 7 which covers dangerous weapons.
However, it’s certainly plausible that they fall under the definition found in 61-7-2 covering “deadly weapons,” which the State defines as “any instrument designed to be used in a way that will produce serious bodily injury or death, or anything that is readily adaptable to such use.”
Note that when you read the entire definition, abbreviated below, the definition is not limited to only what is listed in the paragraph…
Because tasers and stun guns alike can potentially both inflict death or serious injury it stands to reason that they can properly be construed as deadly weapons.
However, some of the state’s laws cover firearms specifically, not all deadly or dangerous weapons, and so tasers fall outside of the scope of those statutes.
As used in this article, unless the context otherwise requires:
(3) “Concealed” means hidden from ordinary observation so as to prevent disclosure or recognition. A deadly weapon is concealed when it is carried on or about the person in such a manner that another person in the ordinary course of events would not be placed on notice that the deadly weapon was being carried. For purposes of concealed handgun licensees, a licensee is considered to be carrying on or about his or her person while in or on a motor vehicle if the firearm is located in a storage area in or on the motor vehicle.
(5) “Deadly weapon” means an instrument which is designed to be used to produce serious bodily injury or death or is readily adaptable to such use. The term “deadly weapon” includes, but is not limited to, the instruments defined in subdivisions (1) through (8), inclusive, of this section or other deadly weapons of like kind or character which may be easily concealed on or about the person. (…) Additionally, for the purposes of 18A-5-1a of this code and 61-7-11a of this code, the term “deadly weapon” includes explosive, chemical, biological, and radiological materials. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the term “deadly weapon” does not include any item or material owned by the school or county board, intended for curricular use, and used by the student at the time of the alleged offense solely for curricular purposes. The term “deadly weapon” does not include pepper spray as defined in subdivision (12) of this subsection when used by any person over the age of 16 solely for self-defense purposes.
Are Stun Guns Legal in West Virginia?
Yes, stun guns are completely legal in West Virginia. This isn’t a matter of semantics, either: stun guns and tasers are actually two distinct devices even though they work similarly, but not every state cares enough to give them two separate definitions.
To clarify, tasers fire darts connected to the launcher by wires through which the electricity will flow to the target. Stun guns do not, having only fixed electrodes on the front of the unit which must be jabbed into the target manually.
Both are legal in West Virginia.
Can You Carry a Taser Openly in West Virginia?
Yes, it is. Tasers and stun guns alike are both legal to carry openly in West Virginia as long as you are 18 and carrying them only for legal self-defense use and not for the furtherance of any crime.
Note that you must still obey the laws concerning restricted areas, however, even if you are carrying openly.
Also, there are quite a few disqualifiers when it comes to the legal possession of tasers and stun guns in the state, and open carry does not allow you to carry one if you are otherwise banned from doing so. See the following sections.
Is it Legal to Concealed Carry a Taser in West Virginia?
Yes, you can, so long as you are 21 years old or older, not restricted from possessing the device, and are carrying it only for lawful purposes of self-defense.
No concealed weapons permit is required to lawfully carry a taser concealed as long as you meet the other requirements.
You can read more about the requirements for legal concealment and possession of deadly weapons in 61-7-7, abridged below. Make sure you read the entire statute for yourself, this is only an excerpt!
61-7-7. Persons Prohibited From Possessing Firearms; Classifications; Right of Nonprohibited Persons Over Twenty-One Years of Age to Carry Concealed Deadly Weapons; Offenses and Penalties; Reinstatement of Rights to Possess; Offenses; Penalties
(a) Except as provided in this section, no person shall possess a firearm, as such is defined in section two of this article, who:
(c) Any person may carry a concealed deadly weapon without a license therefor who is:
(1) At least twenty-one years of age;
(2) A United States citizen or legal resident thereof;
(3) Not prohibited from possessing a firearm under the provisions of this section; and
(4) Not prohibited from possessing a firearm under the provisions of 18 U. S. C. §922(g) or (n).
Are there Age Restrictions on Taser Ownership or Possession?
Yes, there are. You have to be at least 18 to carry a taser openly or otherwise possess one in the State of West Virginia, or 21 to carry one concealed, whether or not you have a permit.
61-7-8. Possession of Deadly Weapons by Minors; Prohibitions
Notwithstanding any other provision of this article to the contrary, a person under the age of 18 years who is not married or otherwise emancipated shall not possess or carry concealed or openly any deadly weapon: Provided, That a minor may possess a firearm upon premises owned by the minor or his or her family or on the premises of another with the permission of his or her parent or guardian and in the case of property other than his or her own or that of his or her family, with the permission of the owner or lessee of the property: Provided, however, That nothing in this section shall prohibit a minor from possessing a firearm while hunting in a lawful manner or while traveling from a place where he or she may lawfully possess a deadly weapon, to a hunting site, and returning to a place where he or she may lawfully possess the weapon.
A violation of this section by a person under the age of 18 years shall subject the child to the jurisdiction of the circuit court under the provisions of §49-4-701 through §49-4-725 of this code, and the minor may be proceeded against in the same manner as if he or she had committed an act which if committed by an adult would be a crime, and may be adjudicated delinquent.
How Can You Buy a Taser in West Virginia?
If you want to buy a Taser in West Virginia all you need to do is locate a dealer where they are sold. The same goes for stun guns. As long as you’re not a prohibited person as detailed in 61-7-7 above you can easily obtain one and then you’ll be all set to carry it.
Note that you’ll need to submit your personal information to a dealer if you are buying an actual taser, versus a stun gun, since they are serialized units and linked to the purchaser to help prevent criminal misuse.
Is Training Mandatory for Taser Ownership?
No. There is no mandatory training to either purchase or carry a taser or a stun gun in West Virginia. On the same note, since you don’t need a concealed weapons permit to carry one lawfully you won’t even need to undergo training for that.
Where Can You Carry a Taser in WV?
Tasers and stun guns can go anywhere that deadly and dangerous weapons are legally allowed, under the same conditions.
As a rule of thumb, you can never carry your taser into any secured area of an airport or other sensitive installation, into any government building or office, into a courtroom or courthouse, into any police station, correctional facility and so forth.
When Can You Use a Taser to Defend Yourself in West Virginia?
The only time you may lawfully use a taser to protect yourself in West Virginia is if you are genuinely in fear for your life or of great bodily injury due to a criminal attacker.
Although it’s easy to think of it tasers as non-lethal devices, ones that do not cause any permanent injury, the reality is very different…
Tasers do cause serious injuries and even death from time to time, and so using them in self-defense means that that level of force must always be proportionate to the force being used against you.
Doing otherwise means you could be criminally charged!
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.