Gun laws are a constant point of discussion in the USA and this list will help you identify 15 states with easiest, least restrictive gun laws in America. With the current state of affairs in America, gun laws are a major point of discussion, and with increased numbers of mass shootings and gun violence, the question is – what can be done to prevent it? While some Americans believe that stricter gun laws will solve (or reduce) the problem, others believe that they should be able to arm themselves in order to protect their families and property. Gun control laws are primarily determined at state level, meaning that each state has different gun laws. States such as New York and California decided to strengthen regulations while others (like Kansas and Maine in 2015) allow adults to carry firearms in public.
Laws regarding gun control date all the way back to 1791, when The Bill of Rights (including the Second Amendment) was passed. The Second Amendment 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”. Gun proponents believe that this Amendment protects an individual’s right to own firearms and proponents of gun control point out that it refers only to militia. While federal laws set minimum standards for ownership of firearms, but individual states have their own laws furthering restrictions or making it easier to obtain firearms. According to data published by Gun-control website, the United States has 88.8 guns per 100 people (about 270,000,000 guns) which is the highest per capita number in the world. Also, interesting data published by The Atlantic states that firearm homicide per 100,000 people in the United States is 3,54 which is the highest number on the list. On the bottom of the list is Japan, with 0.0 which reflects the effectiveness of their very strict gun laws. If you are interested in gun manufacturing, make sure to take a look at our list of 6 biggest gun manufacturers in the world.
In America, gun laws are continuously changing with most recent changes in 2016, when President Obama issued executive actions designed to decrease gun violence. Measures included that sellers of firearms need to obtain federal licenses and perform background checks for prospective buyers. This was supposed to reduce access to firearms to violent individuals and criminals. While investigating the correlation between gun ownership and gun violence, I found that the relationship between these two is not always very clear. Although there are higher incidents of gun violence in the states with less restrictive gun laws, exceptions include Maine and Vermont which have VERY relaxed gun laws but they also have among the lowest violent gun death rates. Still, the majority of states with least restrictive gun laws have above-average rates of firearm death. Alaska and Wyoming (which we will discuss in this article) have double the national firearm suicide rate.
In order to compile this list of 15 states with easiest, least restrictive gun laws in America, I’ve consulted many sources. I took a look at what Quora and Reddit users have to say, NRA-ILA map that sums up gun laws in every state, to name a few. I’ve singled out those states that do not require any permit first and then those states that have certain restrictions but still allow carrying firearms. States with no restrictions are ranked higher on our list and those with restrictions (depending on the type of restrictions) are at the bottom. Let’s take a look.
In Indiana, without the license being in their possession, no person shall carry a handgun with them or in any motor vehicle. If a person decides to carry a firearm (with his license) in their motor vehicle, the handgun has to be unloaded, not readily accessible and has to be stored in a case. Application for a license has to be made to a chief law enforcement officer or to the sheriff of the county. The officer then makes background checks to see if the person is eligible to receive the license to carry firearms.
The open carry of guns in Kentucky, one of the states with easiest, least restrictive gun laws in America, is lawful except in certain restricted areas (such as schools, kindergartens, courtrooms, correctional facilities, etc.). No state permit is required to possess a rifle, shotgun, or a handgun. While carrying shotguns and rifles without a license is lawful, one must have a license if they carry a concealed handgun.
No state permit is required to possess a rifle, shotgun, or a handgun. Anyone convicted of certain violent crimes is prohibited from possessing firearms for ten years from the day of completion of the sentence or probation. The state of Louisiana recognizes open carry as long as the person carrying firearms is at least 21. Concealed handguns cannot be carried into courtrooms, airports, places of worship or in any other place where firearms are banned by state or federal laws. Let’s see what’s coming next on our list of states with easiest, least restrictive gun laws in America.
12. North Dakota
Inalienable rights, as stated in State Constitutional Provision (Article 1, Section 1), include possession of firearms for the defense of one’s family and property as well as lawful hunting. Felons are not allowed to possess firearms and retail dealers need to send a copy of federal license to sell handguns to the chief of the police and sheriff of the county. Also, a loaded firearm cannot be carried in a motor vehicle.
11. West Virginia
For our number 11 on the list of states with easiest, least restrictive gun laws in America, no state permit is needed to buy and possess a shotgun, rifle or handgun in West Virginia. A person allowed to possess firearms may carry a firearm openly or concealed. Unless federally licensed, it is unlawful to possess or sell machine guns or any other fully automated weapon.
10. New Hampshire
New Hampshire is another state on our list of 15 states with easiest, least restrictive gun laws in America where there are no state requirements for the possession of shotguns, handguns or rifles. However, any person who was convicted of a felony related to firearms cannot own firearms.
Wyoming respects the right of law-abiding citizens to openly carry firearms, according to State Constitutional Provision (Article 1, Section 24). The state does not require any background checks and buyers can buy as many guns as they like and don’t have to report buying them or if their gun is lost or stolen.
Next in line on our list of states with easiest, least restrictive gun laws in America is Kansas that has very relaxed gun laws as well. Kansas Bill of Rights (Section 4) states that “people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security“. Adults can carry firearms without any license or state permit. The state does not require any background checks for potential buyers. While there is no need for a state permit to buy and possess a shotgun, rifle or handgun, in the state of Kansas it is illegal to use any firearm designed to automatically discharge more than once by a single function of the trigger. Hence, it is forbidden to use firearms such as machine guns.
In the state of Missouri it is legal to purchase and carry a shotgun, rifle or handgun. Missouri does not prohibit open carrying of firearms but does prohibit displaying any weapon in a violent and threatening manner. Possessing, selling, repairing or transporting machine guns is unlawful in the state of Missouri.
Mississippi allows carrying firearms in order to protect one’s home, family and property, according to State Constitutional Provision (Article 3, Section 12). No state permit is required to buy and possess a shotgun, rifle or handgun. It is unlawful to carry concealed any pistol or revolver, a rifle with a barrel of less than 16 inches in length, shotgun with a barrel of less than 18 inches in length, machine gun, or any muffler or silencer for firearms. It is forbidden to carry handguns in a courthouses, parks, places of worship, schools, colleges or in any facility licensed to serve alcoholic beverages.
As for the our number 5 on the list of states with easiest, least restrictive gun laws in America – According to State Constitutional Provision (Article 1, Section 11) it is legal to carry concealed firearms in Idaho. However, it is illegal to carry concealed firearms while intoxicated. Idaho also permits open carrying of firearms. Firearm dealers are also not limited in any way by the state and do not need a license to sell firearms. According to data published by The Huffington Post, 57% of adults in Kentucky own firearms which is the third highest rate of any state.
It is legal to carry firearms openly in Maine, one of the states with easiest, least restrictive gun laws in America, and no state permit is required to buy and possess a shotgun, rifle or handgun. Also, it is legal to carry a firearm openly if you are at least 21 years old or between 18 and 21 on active duty in the Armed Forces or National Guard or if you are an honorably discharged veteran.
According to State Constitutional Provision (Article 2, Section 26): “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the State shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain, or employ an armed body of men”. No state permit is required to buy and possess a shotgun, rifle or handgun. It is also interesting that it is unlawful to sell or give to a minor ammuniton or firearm without the written consent of minor’s parent or legal guardian. Technically, with parent’s consent even minor can carry firearms. However, Arizona, one of the states with easiest, least restrictive gun laws in America, prohibits certain individuals of possessing firearms such as convicted felons, convicted domestic abusers or those who can pose a threat to themselves or people around them.
Right to keep and bear arms shall never be questioned in Vermont, according to Article 1, Section 16. No state permit is required to buy and possess a shotgun, rifle or handgun. However, if you wish to own machine gun, it is lawful but has to be legally registered. It is important to note that in Vermont, it is illegal to hunt (or possess while hunting) with an automatic firearm. Also, it is legal to carry firearm openly if you are at least 21 years old or between 18 and 21 on active duty in the Armed Forces or National Guard or if you are an honorably discharged veteran. While it is illegal to hunt with an automatic firearm, those who committed violent crimes, mentally ill as well as drug and alcohol abusers can legally buy firearms. Still, Vermont has the lowest violent crime rate in USA.
Alaska is truly at the top when it comes to carrying concealed weapons. According to State Constitutional Provision (Article 1, Section 19): ” The individual right to keep and bear arms shall not be denied or infringed by the state or political subdivision of the State.” The state allows individuals to carry a concealed weapon without any license or background checks. It does not require firearm dealers to have a license either nor does it prevent domestic abusers to buy and own a gun. Individuals who wish to buy rifles, shotguns or handguns don’t need license, permit to buy firearms or registration. You won’t be surprised if you hear that 61, 7% of Alaskans own firearms which is more than double the national gun ownership of 29,1%. Firearm death rate in this state is also more than double the national rate. Make sure to have in mind this list of 15 states with easiest, least restrictive gun laws in America if you want to move to a place where you can own firearms without any (or with very few) restrictions.