These days, it’s becoming more difficult for gun owners across the country to find safe haven, as the powers that be on both federal and state levels begin introducing a quagmire of anti-gun legislation hindering the rights of law-abiding citizens. States like Illinois are notorious for their anti-gun agendas, while states like Texas are viewed as a sort of shooters’ paradise.
But just how true are those reputations? To provide you, dear reader, with a primer of gun-friendly regions of the United States, we’ve analyzed all 50 states—and Washington, D.C.—and ranked them to find out which are the most pro-gun based on laws for firearms.
States can score a maximum 10 points per category, with a perfect score of 50. Full disclosure, though: No state attained that perfect score, though two states came awfully close. As was expected, Washington, D.C., kicked off our list with a whopping zero points, and other anti-gun Meccas such as New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and California weren’t far behind. Topping our list of pro-gun states were Arizona, Vermont, Alaska, Utah and Kentucky. Click through the gallery below to see where your state ranked.
States were measured on gun rights/friendliness to gun owners by the following criteria:
- CCW/Open Carry: Only states that don’t require a permit for concealed or open carry scored a perfect 10 in this category. Everybody else was judged accordingly.
- MSRs: States with no restrictions on the kind, type or number of modern sporting rifles (ARs, AKs, etc.) that can be owned or purchased scored a 10 in this category.
- Class 3/NFA: The majority of states allow their citizens to own Class 3/NFA-type firearms (machine guns, suppressors, short-barreled rifles, etc.), provided they follow the federal licensing standard, but not every state is yea or nay.
- Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground: States’ scores were determined based on how strong their laws are regarding self-defense in and out of the home, and whether in the right you’re immune from civil prosecution.
- Miscellaneous: How pro-gun the state culture is has a lot to do with scoring in this category. Scores are based on the percentage of gun owners in the state, if there are any restrictions on gun or ammunition purchases or magazine capacity, pending pro- or anti-gun legislation, CCW reciprocity, and any restrictions on guns that are not covered in the other categories.
- CCW/Open Carry: 0
Class 3/NFA: 0
Castle Doctrine: 0
Apparently since it’s not a state, the Bill of Rights doesn’t apply to the District of Columbia. Until the recent Heller Supreme Court decision, residents weren’t even allowed to own guns. A permit to purchase is required, and all assault weapons and .50-caliber rifles are banned. No magazines are allowed which hold more than 10 rounds, there is no concealed or open carry, and there is no Castle Doctrine law.
*Editor’s note: State-specific gun laws are a complicated, frustrating and fluid subject. We have consulted online sources such as the National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation and state and law enforcement agencies to compile these rankings. Some states are very hazy on certain statutes, so our data reflects those confusions with general statements based on our understanding of the law. All information is current as of March 14, 2013. Also, for those readers who have expressed their displeasure with our gallery format, click here for a text-only version.