Pepper Spray Laws – West Virginia

West Virginia is a permissive state concerning civilian use and carry of self-defense sprays such as pepper spray.

Although sometimes reported as being strict against the use of defensive sprays thanks to a simple misunderstanding in the way certain statutes are interpreted, West Virginia is in reality extremely permissive with no major restrictions on formula, quantity or any other pertinent factor.

west virginia flag

So long as you do not use your self-defense spray to commit a crime or in furtherance of a crime committed by another you won’t have any issues.

Keep reading to get all the facts on West Virginia’s pepper spray laws and be sure to check out the most relevant statutes included after the conclusion.

Fast Facts

  • Citizens and visitors in West Virginia may carry any formula self defense spray they desire. Permitted formulations include OC, CN and CS sprays.
  • West Virginia does not restrict the size of the spray container or the capacity of said container. Citizens may carry as little or as much agent as is required for their purposes.
  • Self-defense sprays may be freely bought and sold inside West Virginia, and they may also be shipped into the state from elsewhere.

Overview

West Virginia is another sturdy proponent of the use of self-defense sprays by civilians. There really are no laws on the books concerning self-defense sprays of any kind, although it is sometimes reported that West Virginia is unknowingly harsh on such devices because they are (incorrectly) categorized as a drug or controlled substance.

An exact dissection of this text is not required: suffice it to say that that rumor is patently false and we have included the statute in question below with the pertinent section highlighted so you can read it for yourself.

Bottom line, pretty much all self-defense sprays of any formula and any size are permitted for civilian possession and use in self-defense. Note, specifically and only for use in self-defense.

If you commit a crime or through use further the commission of a crime by deploying your self-defense spray you have committed a crime, and can be charged.

In West Virginia you may choose from classic OC pepper spray, CN or CS tear gas formulations or a product that blends one or more standard formulas and you may carry any size canister with any amount of payload that you desire.

This is great news for preppers who might desire an extra large can for self-defense or dealing with societal unrest.

Conclusion

West Virginia is a highly permissive state regarding civilian possession and use of self-defense sprays. The state does not regulate typical formulation of any commercially available self-defense spray and further does not restrict civilians from carrying more than a certain amount.

You won’t want for choice of defensive spray in West Virginia, so if you are living or traveling to the state make sure you take advantage of it by equipping yourself accordingly.

Relevant State Statutes

61-7-2. Definitions

As used in this article, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) “Blackjack” means a short bludgeon consisting, at the striking end, of an encased piece of lead or some other heavy substance and, at the handle end, a strap or springy shaft which increases the force of impact when a person or object is struck. The term “blackjack” shall include, but not be limited to, a billy, billy club, sand club, sandbag or slapjack.

(…)

(3) “Knife” means an instrument, intended to be used or readily adaptable to be used as a weapon, consisting of a sharp-edged or sharp-pointed blade, usually made of steel, attached to a handle which is capable of inflicting cutting, stabbing or tearing wounds. The term “knife” shall include, but not be limited to, any dagger, dirk, poniard or stiletto, with a blade over three and one-half inches in length, any switchblade knife or gravity knife and any other instrument capable of inflicting cutting, stabbing or tearing wounds. A pocket knife with a blade three and one-half inches or less in length, a hunting or fishing knife carried for hunting, fishing, sports or other recreational uses or a knife designed for use as a tool or household implement shall not be included within the term “knife” as defined herein unless such knife is knowingly used or intended to be used to produce serious bodily injury or death.

(4) “Switchblade knife” means any knife having a spring-operated blade which opens automatically upon pressure being applied to a button, catch or other releasing device in its handle.

(…)

(9) “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” shall include, but not be 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. For the purposes of section one-a, article five, chapter eighteen-a of this code and section eleven-a, article seven of this chapter, in addition to the definition of “knife” set forth in subdivision (3) of this section, the term “deadly weapon” also includes any instrument included within the definition of “knife” with a blade of three and one-half inches or less in length. Additionally, for the purposes of section one-a, article five, chapter eighteen-a of this code and section eleven-a, article seven of this chapter, 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.

(10) “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 shall be deemed 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.

(11) “Firearm” means any weapon which will expel a projectile by action of an explosion.

(12) “Controlled substance” has the same meaning as is ascribed to that term in subsection (d), section one hundred one, article one, chapter sixty-a of this code.

(13) “Drug” has the same meaning as is ascribed to that term in subsection (1), section one hundred one, article one, chapter sixty-a of this code.

60A-1-101. Definitions

As used in this act:

(…)

(e) “Controlled substance” means a drug, substance or immediate precursor in Schedules I through V of article two of this chapter.

(…)

(m) “Drug” means: (1) Substances recognized as drugs in the official “United States Pharmacopoeia, official Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States or official National Formulary”, or any supplement to any of them; (2) substances intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease in man or animals; (3) substances (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or animals; and (4) substances intended for use as a component of any article specified in subdivision (1), (2) or (3) of this subdivision. It does not include devices or their components, parts or accessories.

(…)

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.

61-3E-1. Definitions

As used in this article, unless the context otherwise requires:

(a) “Destructive device” means any bomb, grenade, mine, rocket, missile, pipebomb or similar device containing an explosive, incendiary, explosive gas or expanding gas which is designed or so constructed as to explode by such filler and is capable of causing bodily harm or property damage; any combination of parts, either designed or intended for use in converting any device into a destructive device and from which a destructive device may be readily assembled.

“Destructive device” does not include a firearm as such is defined in section two, article seven of this chapter, or sparkling devices, novelties, toy caps, model rockets and their components or fireworks as these terms are defined in section two, article three-e, chapter twenty-nine of this code, or high power rockets and their components, as defined in this section.

(b) “Explosive material” means any chemical compound, mechanical mixture or device that is commonly used or can be used for the purpose of producing an explosion and which contains any oxidizing and combustive units or other ingredients in such proportions, quantities or packaging that an ignition by fire, by friction, by concussion, by percussion, by detonator or by any part of the compound or mixture may cause a sudden generation of highly heated gases. These materials include, but are not limited to, powders for blasting, high or low explosives, blasting materials, blasting agents, blasting emulsions, blasting fuses other than electric circuit breakers, detonators, blasting caps and other detonating agents and black or smokeless powders not manufactured or used for lawful sporting purposes. Also included are all explosive materials listed annually by the office of the State Fire Marshal and published in the State Register, said publication being hereby mandated.

(c) “High power rocket” means the term as defined in National Fire Protection Association Standard 1127, “Code for High Power Rocketry.”

(d) “Hoax bomb” means any device or object that by its design, construction, content or characteristics appears to be, or is represented to be or to contain a destructive device, explosive material or incendiary device as defined in this section, but is, in fact, an inoperative facsimile or imitation of such a destructive device, explosive material or incendiary device.

(e) “Incendiary device” means a container containing gasoline, kerosene, fuel oil, or derivative thereof, or other flammable or combustible material, having a wick or other substance or device which, if set or ignited, is capable of igniting such gasoline, kerosene, fuel oil, or derivative thereof, or other flammable or combustible material: Provided, That no similar device commercially manufactured and used solely for the purpose of illumination shall be deemed to be an incendiary device.

(f) “Legal authority” means that right as expressly stated by statute or law.

(g) “Model rocket” means the term as defined in National Fire Protection Association Standard 1122, “Code for Model Rocketry.”

(h) “Person” means an individual, corporation, company, association, firm, partnership, society or joint stock company.

(i) “Storage magazine” is defined to mean any building or structure, other than an explosives manufacturing building, approved by the legal authority for the storage of explosive materials.

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