State ex rel. City of Princeton v. Buckner
In State ex rel. City of Princeton v. Buckner, 180 W. Va. 457, 377 S.E.2d 139 (1988), the Court struck down as unconstitutionally broad W. Va. Code 61-7-1 (1975) (Repl. Vol. 1989), which prohibited "the carrying of a dangerous or deadly weapon for any purpose without a license or other statutory authorization." Syl. pt. 2, in part, Buckner.
The Court determined that W. Va. Code 61-7-1 violated the Article III, Section 22 of the West Virginia Constitution because, "as a total proscription of the carrying of a dangerous or deadly weapon without a license or other authorization," it exceeded the Legislature's power to reasonably regulate the right to bear arms in that it prohibited "the carrying of weapons for defense of self, family, home and state without a license or statutory authorization." Id. at 462, 377 S.E.2d at 144.
Nevertheless, the Buckner Court emphasized that its holding "in no way meant that the right of a person to bear arms is absolute." Id. at 463, 377 S.E.2d at 145.
In this respect, the Court also held:
The West Virginia legislature may, through the valid exercise of its police power, reasonably regulate the right of a person to keep and bear arms in order to promote the health, safety and welfare of all citizens of this State, provided that the restrictions or regulations imposed do not frustrate the constitutional freedoms guaranteed by article III, section 22 of the West Virginia Constitution, known as the "Right to Keep and Bear Arms Amendment." (Syl. pt. 4, Id.)
The Court cautioned, however, that "the legitimate governmental purpose in regulating the right to bear arms cannot be pursued by means that broadly stifle the exercise of the right to bear arms where the governmental purpose can be more narrowly achieved." Id. at 464, 377 S.E.2d at 146.