Best States for Gun Owners – How Do States Compare In Gun Laws?

Which states are the best states for gun owners? The second amendment act is one that many American hold dear, but how do different states regard this act?

While federal laws are applicable across the US, states tend to differ in the gun laws that they enforce. Some states are more stringent than other states in terms of how easy it is to obtain a weapon and how/when a weapon is to be carried. Guns and Ammo did a really interesting article in 2014 where they numerically scored all the states against a set of criteria to identify the best states for gun owners.

The criteria that Guns And Ammo used included:

Right to Carry (R2C) – Whether a state allowed persons to carry handguns without a permit, either openly or concealed.

Modern Sporting Rifles (MSR) – The restrictions that states place on semi-automatic firearms that are not regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA).

NFA – Laws that governs the purchasing and ownership of machine guns, suppressors/silencers, short-barreled rifles (SBRs) and shotguns (SBSs), Any Other Weapons (AOWs), and Destructive Devices (DDs).

Castle Doctrine (CD) – The laws that regulate the use of force to prevent death, serious bodily injury or forcible crimes. These laws especially tend to be significantly different from state to state.

Miscellaneous (Misc) – Guns And Ammo used some other issues in their scoring, such as state constitutional provisions, state firearm law preemption, purchase/registration requirements, percentage of gun ownership, shooting range protection statues and availability of ranges and access to the shooting sports.

Best States for Gun Owners Comparison Guide

Unfortunately Guns and Ammo put the scores on individual pages for each state, which makes it a bit cumbersome to read. So we collated all the scores and put it in an easy to read table in order to help you to figure out which states are the best for gun owners. Below are the scores out of 10 for the criteria described above.

51Washington, D.C.000000
50New York210306
49New Jersey212207
43Rhode Island41006222
35New Mexico51095837
25New Hampshire710810742
23West Virginia71098842
20North Dakota71088942
19North Carolina81099743
15South Carolina710910844
13South Dakota81098944

Note: Figures obtained from Guns and Ammo 2014

The Worst States for Gun Owners

Looking at the scores above, Washington D.C. is the NOT one of the best states for gun owners! It scores a flat 0 across all the criteria and sparked quite a lot of debate in the comments section of the article. However, if we look at the scores from the Brady Campaign from 2013, the state with the most restrictive gun laws is California, followed by Connecticut and New York. Looking at the report (you can have a look at it here) the report did not score Washington D.C. as a state as the Guns and Ammo article did.

The Best States For Gun Owners

Guns and Ammo and the Brady Campaign agree on the state with the least restrictive gun laws – namely Arizona, closely followed by Alaska! Arizona scored a resounding zero…as in 0….on the Brady Campaign score card (the lower the score the less restrictive the gun laws are) and a near perfect score of 49 on the Guns and Ammo scored card. Arizona has passed “Permitless Carry.” That means anyone who can legally own/purchase a firearm and is 21 or older can carry it concealed without any type of permit/license.

Arizona gun laws for concealed carry

Arizona residents that are at least 21 years old can carry a concealed weapon without a permit. Arizona is only the third state in modern U.S. history (after Vermont and Alaska) to allow the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit, and it is the first state with a large urban population to do so.

Arizona gun laws for open carry

On foot, any adult person who is not a “prohibited possessor” may openly carry a loaded firearm visible to others. Generally, a person must be at least 18 years of age to possess or openly carry a firearm. In a vehicle, any adult person who is not a prohibited possessor may openly carry a loaded firearm in a vehicle whether in a holster, case, compartment, or in plain view.

There are of course many more gun laws and requirements to keep in mind in terms of gun laws in Arizona. If you want to find out more about the gun laws in Arizona, you can check out some of these sites:



What Do you think –  what is the best state for gun owners?

Looking at the comments sections of the Guns and Ammo article, the there are a lot of people with very strong feelings about gun laws in their states. What do you think, what are the best states for gun owners? Please share your thoughts on the topic in the comments section below.

Disclaimer: We also have to add that we here at the Smoking Barrel USA are not law experts and the above should not be taken as any form of legal advice. Gun laws do also change from time to time and the laws on which the scores above are based can change.