The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution states, "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
The debate over what the statement means may never reach a clear answer. Each state has a different interpretation, which means different regulations or requirements to carry or own a firearm. For example, Nebraska requires that residents undergo background checks before purchasing a firearm while Alaska does not. Some states have outlawed the private sales of firearms and many others allow them.
To provide a comprehensive overview of each state's gun regulations, Stacker compiled data from multiple sources, including Guns to CarryGiffords Law Center and the National Rifle Association. The states are organized alphabetically, not in terms of the strictness or ease of their gun laws. It is also important to note that the term "carry" means the concealed carry of a firearm.
Read on to see how your home state regulates firearms. Are there magazine size restrictions? What about rules related to antique guns? Also be sure to look for the states that require its residents to pass a safety exam in order to buy a gun.
Licenses and permits to carry or purchase are not required for rifles and shotguns in Alabama. Handguns require a permit to carry, but not to buy, according to the NRA. Gun owners are allowed to open carry in the state as long as handguns are kept in a holster. There is also no limit on the number of firearms that can be purchased at one time, according to Giffords Law Center.
Guns to Carry gives Alaska gun laws a five-star rating in friendliness toward gun owners. There are no permits or licenses required to buy or own a rifle shotgun or handgun. Owners can open carry in the state as well.
Gun owners can open or concealed carry a firearm in the state without a permit, according to the NRA. Groups can also not bring a lawsuit against a firearms manufacturer in the state. Arizona does not restrict magazine size or require background checks on private gun sales.
Handgun owners in Arkansas must have a permit to carry their firearm. Otherwise the state does not require people to have a permit or license to purchase firearms. There are also no laws against owning or selling assault weapons or large ammunition magazines, according to the Giffords Law Center.
California requires gun owners to have a permit in order to purchase and to register their firearms. A person can only purchase one handgun a month, according to Giffords Law Center, and all gun sales must go through a licensed dealer. Magazines are limited to 10 rounds.
Rifles shotguns and handguns do not require a permit to purchase, nor do they need to be registered in Colorado, but handgun owners must have a permit to conceal carry their firearms. According to Guns to Carry, magazines are limited to 15 rounds and background checks are required for private gun sales.
Delaware requires citizens to have a permit to own a handgun, although the firearm does not need to be registered. There are not restrictions on magazine size, but all sales must be done through a licensed dealer. According to the NRA, it is a felony in Delaware to "knowingly transport or possess any firearm manufactured after 1973 on which the serial number has been altered or obliterated."
Washington D.C. does not require a permit to purchase rifles shotguns or handguns; however gun owners in the district must register all firearms. Background checks are also required on all private sales, according to Guns to Carry.
Gun owners in Georgia are not required to have a permit to purchase or register a firearm. Open carry is allowed in the state, but handgun owners must have a permit. In the state it is illegal to point a firearm at another person.
Guns to Carry gives Hawaii its lowest rating in terms of friendliness to gun owners. The state requires purchase permits for all types of firearms and never issues open carry permits for handguns. Handguns are also not allowed to have magazines larger than 10 rounds.
Idaho does not require purchase permits or registration of any type of firearm. Owners do not need a license and private sales do not require a background check. According to the NRA, antique or replica firearms are not restricted either.
A permit is required to open carry a firearm in Indiana, though the state does not require purchase permits or registration. There is no waiting period on purchasing a gun, but people with histories of domestic violence are not allowed to buy or own a gun.
Iowa citizens need a permit to purchase a handgun, as well as a permit to carry. No permits are required to buy or carry a rifle or shotgun, and no firearms need to be registered in the state.
Guns to Carry gives Kansas a five-star rating for its gun laws. The state has no required permits for purchasing or carrying a firearm. However, it is illegal to own a silencer in Kansas.
Kentucky residents can open carry all types of firearms without a permit. Only handguns require a concealed carry permit. Rifles shotguns and handguns do not need to be registered either. There is no waiting period or restriction on the number of firearms a person can purchase, according to the Giffords Law Center.
Gun owners in Louisiana do not need to register their firearms, or get a permit to purchase additional rifles shotguns or handguns. Private sales in the state do not require a background check and magazine sizes are not restricted, according to Guns to Carry.
Maine does not restrict magazine sizes, require background checks on private sales, or mandate that gun buyers have a permit. Gun owners can carry in the state without a permit, too, as long as the person is 21 years of age.
There are no restrictions on buying, owning, or carrying rifles or shotguns in Maryland. However, handgun purchases require a permit, and owners must register their gun and have a permit to carry it, according to the NRA. Private sales of handguns also require a background check. All guns in the state are subject to a 10-round magazine restriction.
A Firearms Identification Card is required in Massachusetts to buy or own a rifle or shotgun. Similar permits are necessary for handguns as well. All magazines in the state cannot exceed 10 rounds, but firearms registration is not required.
Purchase permits for handguns in Michigan are only required if the sale is through an unlicensed dealer and the buyer does not have a carry license. Rifles and shotguns in the state require no licensing or permits. Michigan mandates an additional two-year prison term for anyone who commits a felony while possessing a firearm.
Minnesota residents must have a purchase permit to buy a handgun, although a carry permit for a handgun does qualify, according to Guns to Carry. The state does not require background checks on private sales, nor does it restrict magazine size. Carry permits are required on all rifles, shotguns, and handguns, however.
Handgun or long gun owners are not required to have a carry permit in Mississippi if the firearm is carried in a purse, handbag, or holster, according to Guns to Carry. Firearms do not need to be registered either. Antique firearms are treated the same as modern guns.
A carry permit is not required in Missouri for handguns, rifles, or shotguns. However, according to Guns to Carry, a gun owner can get a permit, which would exempt them from local ordinances. The state does not have magazine size rules, or require a background check on private sales of rifles shotguns or handguns.
Carry permits for handguns in Montana are only required if residents want to carry their firearm within a city or town. Otherwise the state does not require carrying permits. Montana also does not mandate that people apply for a purchase permit or register their firearms.
Nebraska residents must have a carry permit to purchase a handgun in the state. Getting this permit requires a background check, according to Guns to Carry. No such restrictions exist for long guns in the state.
Carrying permits are required for handguns in Nevada. Otherwise the state does not regulate sales or purchase permits for firearms. Background checks for private sales are voluntary, too.
According to the Giffords Law Center, the state of New Hampshire does background checks on handgun sales through licensed dealers, but not with shotguns or rifles. Purchase permits or firearm registration is not required in the state. New Hampshire also does not regulate magazine size for any type of firearm.
Law enforcement has discretion on issuing concealed carry permits in New Jersey. According to the NRA, police record all transfers of handguns as well. The state restricts magazine sizes to 15 rounds for all semi-automatic rifles shotguns and handguns, and has a seven-day waiting period on any firearm transfer.
New Mexico does not require permits to purchase or open carry any handgun rifle or shotgun. A concealed carry permit is only necessary for handguns in the state. There are no restrictions on magazine sizes or necessary background checks on private sales in New Mexico.
People in New York must have a permit to purchase a handgun and these firearms must be registered. All gun sales in the state must go through a licensed dealer and magazines are limited to 10 rounds. No purchase or carry permit is required for shotguns and rifles.
According to the NRA, North Dakota does not require permits or registration for handguns rifles or shotguns. Antique firearms are treated the same as modern guns.
Handgun owners in Ohio must have a permit to carry, but open carry for all firearms is allowed in the state. No purchase restrictions exist in Ohio for rifles or shotguns, and no registration is required for any firearm. The state also does not restrict magazine size.
Oklahoma requires handgun owners have a permit to carry their firearms, but no such restrictions are required for shotguns or rifles. The state does not restrict magazine size or require background checks for private sales.
All firearm sales in Oregon must be through a licensed dealer. Firearm registration is not necessary in the state and no purchase permits are required, according to the NRA. Oregon does not regulate magazine size.
According to Giffords Law Center, Pennsylvania conducts background checks on licensed firearm dealers and requires a background check on unlicensed handgun sales. Open carry is allowed in the state for handguns, rifles, and shotguns, except in a vehicle or in the city of Philadelphia. Purchase permits for any firearm are not required.
Rhode Island residents must pass a safety exam to purchase a handgun. No such exam is required for shotguns or rifles, and no firearms have to be registered in the state. There is a seven-day waiting period on firearm sales, however.
Firearms do not need to be registered in South Carolina, and gun owners do not need permits to purchase or carry their weapons. However, open carry of handguns is not allowed in the state.
Handgun owners in South Dakota must have a permit to carry, but rifle and shotgun owners do not. According to Guns to Carry, any open carry of a firearm in a vehicle requires that the firearm be clearly visible. South Dakota does not mandate background checks on private sales or regulate magazine size.
Tennessee residents do not need to register their firearms or get a permit to purchase them. The state does not restrict magazine sizes. However, open carry of long guns is only allowed if the firearm is unloaded. Open carrying of handguns requires a permit as well.
Carry permits are required in Texas for handguns, but not for shotguns or rifles. The state does not require owners to register their firearms. According to the NRA, it is illegal to own a silencer in Texas.
According to Guns to Carry, the state of Vermont has never issued or required gun permits. Registration for firearms in the state is not necessary either. Vermont does not require background checks for private sales or regulate magazine size.
Open carry of all firearms is allowed in Virginia and there are no necessary permits to purchase a firearm. According to Giffords Law Center, Virginia has no minimum waiting period on firearm transfers.
All firearm sales in Washington must go through a licensed dealer. According to the NRA, police keep records of all handgun sales. Handgun owners must have a permit to carry, and an open carry permit is only required if the handgun is loaded and in a vehicle.
People in West Virginia 21 years of age or older do not have to have a permit to carry a handgun. Rifles and shotguns have no age or permit restrictions. Open carry is allowed in the state and there are no regulations on magazine size.
Wisconsin residents do not need a permit to purchase or open carry a handgun, rifle, or shotgun. However, there is a permit requirement to carry a handgun. Wisconsin does not require a background check for private sales.
Only non-residents in Wyoming need a permit to concealed carry a firearm. Otherwise there are no necessary permits to carry or purchase a firearm.