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50 States and Their Stance on Gun Control

50 States and Their Stance on Gun Control

In what is perhaps one of the most contentious and longstanding issues in the United States, each of the 50 states has adopted rules and regulations that vary widely from one another regarding the sale, possession, and handling of guns. These rules and regulations are more broadly referred to as gun control, and it is clear that the laws adopted by an individual state reflect its stance as it pertains to gun control.

Some states, such as California, New York, and Massachusetts, have adopted fairly rigorous standards with regard to gun control, including a prohibition on open carry of handguns, broad discretion to deny concealed carry permits, and background checks at the point of ownership transfer. These states often include fairly extensive restrictions regarding who is eligible for gun ownership, limiting ownership by excluding those with a dangerous mental illness or a record of violent or gun-related crimes.

Other states have fewer restrictions in terms of gun control. Arizona and Idaho, for example, allow the open carry of handguns without restriction and do not require a specific permit for concealed carry. The least restrictive states often do not require a background check for privately sold guns and have no restrictions concerning those with a prior history of violent or gun-related crimes or those with a mental illness defined as dangerous.

Each state has a different set of gun control laws on the books, and it is certainly necessary for citizens to understand the laws of their own state as well as any states they may plan on visiting at some point in the future. There are sometimes subtle differences between states possessing otherwise similar gun control stances, which further underscores the need to deeply understand the specific laws as they pertain to a state’s gun control stance.

The following information is for informational purposes only. You should check with each state to verify the information and ensure it's accuracy.

Alabama

No background checks for private sellers; limited discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; few restrictions on open carry; no restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Alaska

No background checks for private sellers; no permit required for concealed carry; few restrictions on open carry; no restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Arizona

No background checks for private sellers; no permit required for concealed carry; no restrictions on open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Arkansas

No background checks for private sellers; limited discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; few restrictions on open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

California

Background check required at point of ownership transfer; broad discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; prohibits open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Colorado

Background check required at point of ownership transfer; limited discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; no restrictions on open carry; no restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Connecticut

Background check required at point of ownership transfer; broad discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; license or permit required for open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Delaware

Background check required at point of ownership transfer; broad discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; no restrictions on open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Florida

No background checks for private sellers; no discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; prohibits open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Georgia

No background checks for private sellers; limited discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; license or permit required for open carry; no restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Hawaii

Permit required in advance of private sale; broad discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; license or permit required for open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Idaho

No background checks for private sellers; no discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; no restrictions on open carry; no restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Illinois

Permit required in advance of private sale; limited discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; prohibits open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Indiana

No background checks for private sellers; limited discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; license or permit required for open carry; no restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Iowa

Permit required in advance of private sale; limited discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; license or permit required for open carry; no restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Kansas

No background checks for private sellers; no permit required for concealed carry; no restrictions on open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Kentucky

No background checks for private sellers; no discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; no restrictions on open carry; no restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Louisiana

No background checks for private sellers; no discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; no restrictions on open carry; no restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Maine

No background checks for private sellers; no permit required for concealed carry; no restrictions on open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Maryland

Background check required at point of ownership transfer; broad discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; license or permit required for open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Massachusetts

Permit required in advance of private sale; broad discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; license or permit required for open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Michigan

Permit required in advance of private sale; no discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; few restrictions on open carry; restrictions on the purchase of handguns based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Minnesota

No background checks for private sellers; limited discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; license or permit required for open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Mississippi

No background checks for private sellers; no discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; no restrictions on open carry; no restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Missouri

No background checks for private sellers; limited discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; license or permit required for open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Montana

No background checks for private sellers; limited discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; no restrictions on open carry; no restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Nebraska

Permit required in advance of private sale; no discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; no restrictions on open carry; no restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Nevada

Background checks are voluntary in private sales; no discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; no restrictions on open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

New Hampshire

No background checks for private sellers; limited discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; no restrictions on open carry; no restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

New Jersey

Permit required in advance of private sale; broad discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; license or permit required for open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

New Mexico

No background checks for private sellers; no discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; no restrictions on open carry; no restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

New York

Background check required at point of ownership transfer; broad discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; prohibits open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

North Carolina

Permit required in advance of private sale; no discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; no restrictions on open carry; restrictions on the purchase of handguns based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

North Dakota

No background checks for private sellers; limited discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; few restrictions on open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Ohio

No background checks for private sellers; no discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; no restrictions on open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Oklahoma

No background checks for private sellers; no discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; license or permit required for open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Oregon

Background check required at point of ownership transfer; limited discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; no restrictions on open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Pennsylvania

Background check required at point of ownership transfer; limited discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; few restrictions on open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Rhode Island

Background check required at point of ownership transfer; broad discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; license or permit required for open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

South Carolina

No background checks for private sellers; no discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; prohibits open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

South Dakota

No background checks for private sellers; limited discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; no restrictions on open carry; no restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Tennessee

No background checks for private sellers; no discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; license or permit required for open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Texas

No background checks for private sellers; no discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; license or permit required for open carry; no restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Utah

No background checks for private sellers; limited discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; license or permit required for open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Vermont

No background checks for private sellers; no permit required for concealed carry; no restrictions on open carry; no restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Virginia

No background checks for private sellers; limited discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; few restrictions on open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime. 

Washington

Background check required at point of ownership transfer; no discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; few restrictions on open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

West Virginia

No background checks for private sellers; no discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; no restrictions on open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Wisconsin

No background checks for private sellers; no discretion to deny a concealed carry weapons permit; no restrictions on open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.

Wyoming

No background checks for private sellers; no permit required for concealed carry; no restrictions on open carry; restrictions based on dangerous mental illness; no restrictions based on prior history of violent and/or gun-related crime.