POLITICS
05/13/2016 09:17 am ET Updated May 13, 2016

The Easiest States To Buy A Gun

In 36 states, there are no legal requirements for gun registration, no permit needed and no license necessary to purchase and own a firearm.

The second amendment, which was passed by Congress on September 25, 1789, 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 private right to own a firearm — for protection, for hunting, or for enjoyment — has remained central to the national ethos of the United States. Americans living in most states today would not have much trouble buying a gun.

In 36 states, there are no legal requirements for gun registration, no permit needed and no license necessary to purchase and own a firearm such as a rifle, shotgun, or handgun. Due to the lack of these regulations, as well as the ease with which many Americans can purchase guns online or at gun shows, most guns in the United States are not registered.

Only a few million privately owned guns in the U.S. are registered with the federal government. The actual number of guns, however, is certainly far higher. Last year alone, U.S. gun makers manufactured more than 10 million firearms. According to a 2012 estimate from the Congressional Research Service, there are as many as 310 million guns across the nation.

In states where weapons can be purchased with relative ease, there are also far more venues for buying guns. Nationwide, for every 1,000 businesses, there are 19 that are licensed to sell guns. In 30 of the 36 states reviewed, there are more than 19 businesses licensed to sell arms for every 1,000 businesses. In Alaska, there are nearly 50 gun shops for every 1,000 businesses — the most of any state. By contrast, in New Jersey, which has relatively strict gun laws, there are fewer than three firearm licensees per 1,000 businesses.

These weapons are used for a range of purposes — primarily for recreation and peace of mind.
A new study shows that while hunting was one of the most common reason for gun ownership among Americans, self-defense is now by far the most common reason given.

Some of these weapons, however, will be used to commit violent acts. For instance, in addition to accidents that often occur, thousands of weapons are reported lost or stolen every year, and many of these find their way into the hands of criminals. The connection between gun laws and firearm deaths is hotly debated in the United States. While liberals believe legal restrictions would lower gun death rates, conservatives hold that stricter laws would do little to curb the behavior of violent criminals.

While the solution may be unclear, the problem of shooting deaths in the United States is a serious problem. According to a recent study in The American Journal of Medicine, the firearm homicide rate is 25 times higher in the United States than in other high-income nations. Compared to other OECD nations, all of which have considerably stricter gun regulations, the United States is far and away the leader in gun homicides.

To identify the easiest states in which a person can buy a gun, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed gun laws in each state as catalogued by the National Rifle Association.

To be considered, a state needed to have no legal requirements for gun registration, no permit needed to purchase, and no license necessary to own a firearm. The presence of regulations, including whether or not a permit to carry a concealed weapon is required in a given state, for both handguns and long guns, also came from the NRA. The number of registered firearms per 1,000 adult state residents in 2015 came from the United States Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF) annual report, “Firearms Commerce in the United States, Statistical Update 2015.” The number of licenses to sell firearms per 1,000 establishments in each state is as of 2014 and also came from the ATF. Population figures came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey.

 

1. Alabama

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 30.6 (6th highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:24.5 (18th highest)

2. Alaska

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: No

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 22.6 (11th highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:47.0 (the highest)

3. Arkansas

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 28.9 (8th highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:31.6 (8th highest)

4. Colorado

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 17.4 (23rd highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:18.3 (20th lowest)

5. Delaware

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 5.6 (3rd lowest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:14.4 (15th lowest)

6. Florida

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 16.1 (24th highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:14.7 (16th lowest)

7. Georgia

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 22.1 (13th highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:17.4 (18th lowest)

8. Idaho

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 37.0 (5th highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:32.5 (6th highest)

9. Indiana

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 20.0 (17th highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:20.7 (23rd lowest)

10. Kansas

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: No

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 16.0 (24th lowest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:25.9 (16th highest)

11. Kentucky

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 18.7 (19th highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:27.9 (10th highest)

12. Louisiana

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?:Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 22.8 (10th highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:20.8 (24th lowest)

13. Maine

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: No

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 11.7 (13th lowest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:24.2 (19th highest)

14. Mississippi

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 10.7 (10th lowest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:26.7 (13th highest)

15. Missouri

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 12.5 (15th lowest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:35.3 (5th highest)

16. Montana

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 16.0 (25th highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:42.2 (3rd highest)

17. Nevada

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 29.4 (7th highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:22.8 (23rd highest)

18. New Hampshire

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 21.8 (14th highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:31.9 (7th highest)

19. New Mexico

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 56.3 (2nd highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:26.5 (15th highest)

20. North Dakota

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 14.2 (19th lowest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:26.8 (12th highest)

21. Ohio

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 15.1 (20th lowest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:20.3 (22nd lowest)

22. Oklahoma

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 19.9 (18th highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:27.1 (11th highest)

23. Oregon

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 15.7 (21st lowest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:23.1 (20th highest)

24. Pennsylvania

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 22.3 (12th highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:21.2 (25th lowest)

25. Rhode Island

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 4.8 (2nd lowest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:21.8 (25th highest)

26. South Carolina

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 18.2 (21st highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:21.9 (24th highest)

27. South Dakota

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 18.7 (20th highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:31.2 (9th highest)

28. Tennessee

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 16.0 (23rd lowest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:26.6 (14th highest)

29. Texas

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 20.3 (16th highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:19.4 (21st lowest)

30. Utah

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 37.9 (4th highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:17.9 (19th lowest)

31. Vermont

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: No

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 8.3 (8th lowest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:25.9 (17th highest)

32. Virginia

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 41.5 (3rd highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:23.0 (21st highest)

33. Washington

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 12.5 (16th lowest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:16.2 (17th lowest)

34. West Virginia

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 16.0 (22nd lowest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:40.6 (4th highest)

35. Wisconsin

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: Yes

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 11.2 (11th lowest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:22.9 (22nd highest)

36. Wyoming

> License, registration, or permit required to buy gun?: No

> Permit needed to carry handgun?: No

> Registered guns per 1,000 adults: 278.2 (the highest)

> Federal firearm licensees per 1,000 establishments:43.1 (2nd highest)

This article has been updated to correct the second question for each state, which previously addressed the requirement of a permit for a concealed weapon. It now specifies whether a permit is required to carry a handgun.

 
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