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What Are the Most Gun-Friendly States for Gun Owners?

Posted on Tuesday, July 9, 2024
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by U.S. Concealed Carry Association
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Editor’s Note: The U.S. Concealed Carry Association is unable to rank every state, especially as there are no universal criteria for what makes a state gun-friendly. A great deal of consideration was put into choosing the below criteria and verifying which states meet them. If you do not see your state in either of the two “tiers,” it does not necessarily mean your state is not gun-friendly. To learn more about your state’s gun laws, visit the Concealed Carry Reciprocity & Gun Laws Map.

You may have heard individuals or organizations grade or score states based on their firearms laws from the least to most restrictive. Determining if a state is “gun-friendly” is a matter of opinion, but there is some truth to it. Are you curious about which states are the friendliest to gun owners? Or the least? Well, we’ve compiled a list for you. Hopefully, for your own sake, your home state is at the top of the list.

Top States Friendly to Gun Owners

Our USCCA gun laws expert came up with 13 criteria based on concealed carriers’ questions about purchasing, traveling with and defending with a firearm. The No. 1 factor in determining how friendly a state is toward gun owners was whether people could carry concealed. (Learn why open carry isn’t always a good idea.) Although no state in the U.S. allows all of the gun-friendly measures listed below, nine states permit most of these:

  • Permitless carry or unrestricted concealed carry for anyone who can legally possess a firearm based on the minimum age listed (except where noted)
  • No permit required to purchase handguns
  • No waiting period imposed on handgun purchases
  • No background checks required for private transfers
  • No handgun registration
  • No magazine-capacity limits
  • No ammunition restrictions
  • No red flag laws
  • Vehicle carry permitted without a permit
  • Possession of a handgun on private property without a permit is allowed
  • State laws have preemptionPreemption is a doctrine of state law that holds that a state law supersedes a local law or regulation that is in the same field and is in conflict or inconsistent with the state law. For example, if a state legislature enacts gun-control legislation, and the intent of the legislation is to occupy the field of gun control, then a municipality is preempted from enacting its own gun-control ordinance. (so, no concern about local restrictions)
  • Castle DoctrineCastle Doctrine is the concept that an individual has a right to be safe and secure within his or her own home or “castle” and should not have to retreat from his or her home to be safe. statute(s)
  • Stand Your GroundSo-called “stand-your-ground” laws allow armed individuals who believe they are in imminent danger to use deadly force under certain circumstances, without first attempting to retreat from the danger. statute(s) in some locations

 A whopping 29 states now have constitutional carry and are the most favorable to gun owners. 19 of those states with the least restrictions include:

  • Alabama (permitless carry if at least 21 years old) 
  • Alaska (permitless carry if at least 21 years old)
  • Arizona (permitless carry if at least 21 years old)
  • Arkansas (permitless carry if at least 18 years old)
  • Georgia (permitless carry if at least 21 year old and 18 for members of the military)
  • Idaho (permitless carry if at least 18 years old)
  • Indiana (permitless carry if at least 18 years old)
  • Iowa (permitless carry if at least 21 years old)
  • Mississippi (permitless carry if at least 18 years old)
  • Montana (permitless carry if at least 18 years old)
  • New Hampshire (permitless carry if at least 18 years old)
  • Ohio (permitless carry if at least 21 years old)
  • South Carolina (permitless carry if at least 18 years old)
  • South Dakota (permitless carry if at least 18 years old)
  • Texas (permitless carry if at least 21 years old)
  • Utah (permitless carry if at least 21 years old)
  • Vermont – (Vermont is a does-not-issue, permitless carry state) (must be 18 years old to carry)
  • West Virginia (permitless carry if at least 21 years old)
  • Wyoming (permitless carry if at least 21 years)

 Learn More About Open Carry States

States Close to Meeting Our Gun-Friendly Criteria

Seven more states meet nearly all of the criteria listed above, but either have ammunition restrictions, a waiting period for purchases, lack one of the Castle Doctrine or Stand Your Ground laws, or some other restriction the above states do not possess. These states are:

  • Kansas (permitless carry if at least 21 years old) — The sale and possession of plastic-coated handgun ammunition is prohibited.
  • Kentucky (permitless carry if at least 21 years old) — Armor-piercing ammunition Armor-Piercing Ammunition is designed to penetrate ballistic armor and protective shields intended to stop or deflect conventional bullets. is prohibited.
  • Louisiana (permitless carry if at least 21 years old) (going into effect July 4th, 2024) – Armor-piercing ammunition is prohibited. 
  • Maine (permitless carry if at least 21 years old or 18 for members of the military) There is no “stand your ground” law, so an individual has a duty to retreat outside of his or her dwelling place. Also, Maine just passed a law that requires a 72-hour waiting period on the purchase of firearms.
  • Missouri (permitless carry if at least 18 years old) — The possession and sale of “exploding bullets” is prohibited.
  • North Dakota (permitless carry if at least 18 years old) permitless carry is for concealed carry only.
  • Oklahoma (permitless carry if at least 21 years old) — The possession or use of any “restricted bullet” is prohibited.
  • Tennessee (permitless carry if at least 21 years old or at least 18 years old for members of the military) — Exploding bullets are illegal.

All Other States

If you live in one of the states already listed, consider yourself fortunate. For those who live in Hawaii, California, New Jersey and New York, we feel for you. These four states are the most restrictive states in the U.S. for gun owners. The remaining states not listed here fall somewhere between the top gun-friendly states and the ones most restrictive to gun owners.

It’s important to know which states are the most and least gun-friendly, especially when traveling or purchasing a firearm for the first time. That’s why our Concealed Carry Reciprocity Map & Gun Laws by State is an essential resource for every gun owner. Use it regularly, and share it with those who are not familiar with it. It can keep you out of a world of trouble and may help you reconsider relocating to or visiting a specific state.

The information contained on this website is provided as a service to USCCA, Inc. members and the concealed carry community, and does not constitute legal advice. Although we attempt to address all areas of concealed carry laws in all states, we make no claims, representations, warranties, promises or guarantees as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information disclosed. Legal advice must always be tailored to the individual facts and circumstances of each individual case, and laws are constantly changing, and as such, nothing contained on this website should be used as a substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

The USCCA (United States Concealed Carry Association) is a membership organization of more than 800,000 responsibly armed members. The U.S. Concealed Carry Association exists to help responsible gun owners like you avoid danger, save lives & keep your family safe.

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Denise
Denise
8 days ago

Colorado, once upon a time in a place far away, was a gun friendly state but then was literally bought and paid for under cover of darkness, in 2010 by east coast “mafia”. Since then, with democrat “governors” we’ve been literally put under a budding democrat dictatorship by comrade “governor” Jared Polis and his merry gang of gun grabbers. He also believes he should be president. Sadly the final salvo against our gun rights and a governor candidate that a group of us had campaigned and introduced, came after we won his spot on the ballot overwhelmingly. A man we believed was a true Republican decided to run for governor and added his name just before deadline.
He split the ticket and we lost our state to the enemy in 2010. We’ve been fighting Denver to save our gun rights for some time at great cost. Rocky Mountain Gun Owners director is in court probably more than he’s home, fighting this treasonous gov Polis and his gang. The decrees these leftist are pushing are to eventually disarm We the People. Pay attention, this will not end well for Americans. Years ago George Bush Sr.’s presidential acceptance speech contained these very chilling words: “We must usher in the New World Order”. There is nothing good or new about his declaration…AND WE MUST BE DISARMED FIRST! So far the other states who have protected the Second have won…hopefully they will continue to win, hopefully…it’s not over. Keep an eye on the big picture nation wide. Also the “criminal justice system” that’s become a pathetic joke.
P.S. spend a fun evening on the ATF website: Gun laws, regulations, statutes etc. Prepare to be there a looooong time…one thing the disgraced Wayne LaPierre, once head of the NRA, stated that’s so true; “The ATF are jack booted thugs”.

James Horan Jr.
James Horan Jr.
8 days ago

Why is Florida missing from the list?

Sean Rickman
Sean Rickman
8 days ago

And I am unfortunate enough to live in the state of chitcago,formerly Illinois.I live downstate,not anywhere near northeast Illinois,but ALL of the people in this state are forced to live under the democ rat curse and the controlling democ rats are very dictatorial.

Chuck
Chuck
8 days ago

WA state denied USCCA doing business here about 4 years ago stating they were reviewing if USCCA insurance conforms to whatever. So I lost my coverage since then. WA state should be near the bottom of the list also.

Mike
Mike
8 days ago

As per usual New York is not on either list. It is even hard to get ammo here.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
8 days ago

While Nevada does not have permitless carry, we do have open carry, no registration. I’d love permitless though although too many businesses have signs against concealed carry.

Sallo
Sallo
8 days ago

This is useful, but even more helpful is reciprocity for people travelling between states. Most of us already know our own state’s laws.

Mare
Mare
8 days ago

Second Amendment, when does the case for open carry if you have a FOID card hit the supreme court?

Hugh Johnson
Hugh Johnson
8 days ago

A good thing to know. Unfortunately because of this administration I am unable to move and I am stuck living in California on the East Coast (Maryland).

Granny
Granny
8 days ago

Michigan used to be better until the ‘gritch’ and her two cohorts decided to take on and inflict gun control bills which are not only stupid but dangerous. She’s certainly a partisan democrat/marxist, that’s for sure.

Sean Kelly
Sean Kelly
7 days ago

I also ask why Florida is not on one of the lists?

Jim Staples
Jim Staples
8 days ago

Why isn’t Florida listed on any of gun friendly states?

Bob Jacob
Bob Jacob
8 days ago

I wonder how the gun violence in the gun friendly states compare to the unfriendly states.

John Shipway
John Shipway
8 days ago

Am I the only person that could care less what some state law has to say about how and where i carry a firearm?
Ignore and laugh at “the man” and in time their regulations will be universally ignored. Enough with the herd mentality, tell your shepards to go f**k themselves.

corporate left-wing
rick scott and mitch mcconnell; thune and cornyn
George C Marshall; war and peace
Former President Trump's tweet about the shooting

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