This is a guest post by Katey Hart
This week we will be comparing West Virginia and Florida gun laws. West Virginia and Florida both score high on gun rights. West Virginia comes out on top due to its repeal of concealed weapon permits in 2016 and no waiting period on purchases. Restricted weapons in both states are machine guns however the wording in each state makes it possible to possess inoperable ones in Florida but not in West Virginia.
In both West Virginia and Florida background checks are required for all federally licensed dealers but not private sellers. Florida is a point of contact state, which means they have their background checks run through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). Wet Virginia is not a point of contact state so all background checks are run through the FBI. Additionally Florida prevents licensed dealers from handing over a firearm to anyone (except another licensed dealer) before receiving an approval number and date from the FDLE.
The other major difference in purchasing firearms in Florida and West Virginia is the West Virginia doesn’t impose a waiting period on delivery of handguns but Florida does. In Florida there is a three-day waiting period on all handgun purchases except for purchases made by people with a concealed weapons permit or handgun trade-ins. For more details about the waiting period restrictions in Florida see Fla. Const. art. 1, 8 and Fla. Stat 790.0655.
Neither state has any restrictions on the number of firearms an individual may purchase at one time.
Concealed Carry Permits
West Virginia is unarguably the better state to be in if you want to carry a concealed weapon because as of June 5th 2016 individuals over twenty-one do not need a permit to carry a concealed, or open, handgun. West Virginia continues to offer a concealed carry permit for people aged 18-20 who want one and also for those who travel out of state frequently and want to travel with their handgun. Of course this only applies to states with reciprocity agreements. Thankfully most do recognize West Virginian concealed weapons permits. For more information about carrying handguns in West Virginia see W. Va. Code 61-7-3.
Florida is a shall-issue state so while obtaining a concealed weapon carry permit is required for handguns in theory as long as you can meet the requirements you wont be denied your right to one. These requirements are fairly standard, matching what other states also require except for the requirement to demonstrate competence with a firearm (Fla. Stat. 790.06). This requirement can be met through several methods including various forms of firearm safety training classes or military or law enforcement experience.
Neither West Virginia nor Florida have laws regulating assault style weapons. However both states prohibit the sale or transfer of ammunition to people who are not allowed firearms. Generally though Florida and West Virginia do not heavily regulate ammunition otherwise. To see ammunition regulation laws see W. Va. Code 61-7-10 for West Virginian laws and Fla. Stat. 790.23 for Florida laws. When it comes to machine guns West Virginia outright prohibits them except for when the individual obtains them through federal provisions. Laws for this can be viewed in W. Va. Code 61-7-9. Whereas Florida prevents the possession of readily made operable ones and also allows ones that are obtained through federal law provisions. Both states also allow antique machine guns (generally those made prior to 1986 in West Virginia).
Katey Hart is a Canadian writer who recently moved to the US. She is new to the gun debate, which is basically a non-starter in her home country, and is fascinated by all the vastly different gun laws in each state. While she does not have a lot of experience in the area, due to her recent move she hopes to clear up some misinformation and myths other newcomers may also have by comparing gun laws in from different states.
This article is part of a weekly series comparing basic gun laws in different States. Like all laws these are subject to change. There may also be county and city laws not covered in this article that change your ability to carry, transport and otherwise possess and store your firearm.