Gun Ownership by State

Gun Ownership by State 2020

 

It’s common knowledge that America boasts the highest rate of gun ownership of any country. Estimates put the number of guns circulating within the country at nearly 400 million, almost 40% of that of the total global firearms. 

With that said, the prevalence of gun ownership isn’t uniform across the country. The United States is a huge and highly diverse country – how guns are perceived and how easy it is to buy one can vary considerably from state to state. Presented below are figures on gun ownership by state as well as some information on the factor behind the prevalence.  

 

1. Alaska

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
61.7% 15,824 ~734,000
Alaska tops our list for the highest rate of gun ownership within the country. This largely thanks to its highly gun-friendly laws as well as a culture that prizes gun ownership. A majority non-urban population and popularity of hobbies such as hunting and recreational shooting also play a factor in the high rate of gun ownership. A high median income may also be a contributing factor. 

2. Arkansas

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
57.9% 79,841 ~3,039,000

Like Alaska, Arkansas also possesses a long-established gun culture and a majority non-urban population. Gun laws within the state are reasonable. Recreational shooting remains a very popular hobby, but self-defense remains the most commonly cited reason for owning a firearm. 

3.Idaho

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
56.9% 49,566 ~1.826,000
This landlocked state has one of the gun-friendly laws in all of the United States. The state has a small urban population, and recreational shooting is a popular hobby. The state has a large firearm industry with, on a per capita basis, manufacturers the most guns and ammunition.  

4. West Virginia

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
54.2% 35,264 ~1,778,000

West Virginia’s demographics are also defined by a high rural population. The state has a long-ingrained gun culture and features very friendly gun laws.

5. Wyoming

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
53.8% 132,806 ~567,000
Featuring a relatively high median income among residences and highly friendly gun laws, more than half its residents possess a firearm. Surprisingly, despite it, not a requirement, the state features a relatively high rate of registered firearms.

6. Montana

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
52.3% 22.133 ~1,087,000
Montana features highly permissive gun laws and has a population that is predominately rural. Hunting is a popular hobby, but self-defense is also listed as a common reason for owning a firearm.

7. New Mexico

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
49.9% 94,580 ~2,096,000

In New Mexico, the overwhelming reason cited for owning a firearm is self-defense. Other reasons for the high rate of gun ownership include favorable gun laws and long-established gun culture.  

8. Alabama

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
48.9% 161,641 ~4,908,600
Alabama has a very high non-urban population. Gun laws are very permissive, and ownership of firearms is encouraged. Recreational shooting and self-defense are among the most commonly cited reasons for owning a firearm. 

9. North Dakota

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
47.9% 13,272 ~761,700

North Dakota a rich heritage of hunting, and many of its residences share a strong fondness for guns. Friendly gun laws and a relatively high purchasing power also factor in the high gun ownership rate. 

10. Hawaii

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
45.1% 450,760 ~1,412,700
Despite the relatively restrictive gun laws, and it being an island with a majority urban population, Hawaii still features a surprisingly high rate of gun ownership. According to one estimate, there are more guns circulating on the island than there are people living there. 

11. Louisiana

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
44.5% 116,830 ~4,645,200

The state has reasonably permissive gun laws, but the main contributing factor behind the high rate of gun ownership is the popularity of hunting and recreational shooting in the state. Self-defense is also commonly cited as a reason for firearm procession, especially in the cities.

12. South Carolina

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
44.4% 105,600 ~5,210,000
South Carolina features a large non-urban population, and gun laws are quite permissive. Gun-friendly laws and an established gun culture largely explain the high rate of firearm possession. 

13. Mississippi

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
42.8% 35,494 ~2,989,000

Gun laws in Mississippi are very friendly, and many residents see recreational shooting and hunting as a favorite past-time. The population is also predominately rural, and despite a relatively low average income, the much lower cost of living still allows for much greater spending power. 

14. Kentucky

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
42.4% 81,058 ~4,500,000
Gun laws in Kentucky are highly permissive, and gun-ownership is encouraged. Hunting and shooting are a popular pastime among residents. There is also a thriving gun industry within the state.  

15. Tennessee

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
39.4% 99,159 ~6,897,580

Gun laws with Tennessee are quite permissive, and there is also a long-established gun culture within the state. Most residents cite self-defense as the primary reason for owning a gun. The state has a sizable rural population. 

16. Nevada

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
37.5% 76,888 ~3,19,600
Nevada has long been associated with the wild west and gun culture. Gun laws are quite relaxed here, and there is no indication of that changing anytime soon. Recreational shooting remains highly popular among state residents. 

17. Minnesota

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
36.7% 79,307 ~5,700,600
Despite not having exactly the most favorable gun laws in the United States, the percentage of gun ownership is still high due to deeply-ingrained hunting-related gun culture. As such, hunting rifles and shotguns are quite common, but handgun sales have also been picking up pace steadily in recent years.  

18. Texas

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
35.7% 588,696 ~29,472,300

If anything, most would be surprised to see why Texas is so low on the list. Regardless, the Lone Star State features very friendly gun laws and a people that pride themselves on self-sufficiency, including when it comes to security. Firearms have also been an integral part of the state’s history and culture. 

19. South Dakota

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
35% 21,130 ~903,000
Strong gun culture and very friendly gun laws, along with a large rural population, help explain the high rate of gun ownership in South Dakota. Hunting is also very popular within the state, with as much as 37% of the population engaged in the hobby. 

20. Wisconsin

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
34.7% 64,878 ~5, 851,750

Friendly gun laws, a long-established gun culture as well as the high popularity of hunting as a pastime all result in a high rate of gun ownership in the state. 

21. Colorado

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
34.3% 92,435 ~5,845,500
Colorado features reasonably permissive gun laws, but over the years, have been steadily tightening. However, this hasn’t deterred Coloradoans from purchasing firearms. In fact, in the same years, firearm purchase has actually increased! 

22. Iowa

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
33.8% 28,494 ~3,179,850

Iowa gun laws are just decent. Rather, the relatively high rate of gun ownership is explained by the presence of strong gun culture, especially in rural areas. Hunting remains a poplar hobby within the state. 

23. Indiana

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
33.8% 114,019 ~6,745,400
Gun laws in Indiana are quite friendly, and recreational shooting is a popular hobby.  Strong gun culture and a large local gun industry also factor in the relatively high rate of gun ownership.  

24. Florida

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
32.5% 343,288 ~21,993,000

With very friendly gun laws and lots of outdoor shooting and hunting opportunities, it should surprise no one that Florida features a gun ownership rate higher than what is the national average. 

25. Arizona

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
32.3% 179,738 ~7,378,490
Arizona boasts one of the country’s most friendly gun laws – enforcing virtually no restrictions outside of what is already legislated in Federal law. With a long-established gun culture, a thriving gun industry, and plenty of hunting opportunities, if anything, one would expect the rate of ownership to be even higher.   

26. Kansas

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
32% 52,634 ~2,910,360

Kansas is another state with among the nation’s most friendly gun laws. A mix of prevalent gun culture and the popularity of recreational shooting also influence the above-average rate. Among some urban residence, self-defense is also cited as a top reason for owning a firearm.   

27. Utah

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
31.9% 72,856 ~3,282,120
A state that historically has been fiercely independent and at one time even declared war on the United States government, it would come as no surprise that Utah features an above-average rate of gun-ownership.  

28. Georgia

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
31.6% 190,050 ~10,736,100
A combination of friendly gun laws and a strong gun culture explain the above-average rate of gun ownership. Surprisingly, despite an abundance of game, hunting isn’t cited as a major reason for owning a gun. The state also has a flourishing gun industry. 

29. Oklahoma

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
31.2% 71,269 ~3,954,820

Oklahoma features very friendly gun laws and a strong gun culture. A high proportion of its residences are also non-urban. Hunting and recreational shooting are often cited as major reasons for owning a firearm. 

30. Virginia

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
29.3% 307,822 ~8,626,200
Gun laws with the state are quite friendly, and Virginians enjoy a median household income that is above the country’s average. These two factors largely explain the rate of gun ownership within the state. 

31. Vermont

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
28.8% 5,872 ~628,000

The state features very friendly gun laws. Hunting and recreational shooting are cited as the biggest reasons for owning a firearm.

32. Michigan

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
28.8% 65,742 ~10,045,000
Gun laws within Michigan are reasonable. The biggest factor explaining the rate of ownership within the state seems to be hunting, with almost 1 in 10 Michiganians being a licensed hunter.  

33. North Carolina

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
28.7% 152,238 ~10,611,900

Gun laws in North Carolina are quite friendly. The Tar Heel state also has a long-established gun culture, which primarily factors into its rate of gun ownership. 

34. Washington

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
27.7% 91,835 ~7,797,100
Gun laws in Washington are reasonable. Hunting remains the biggest cited reason for gun ownership. There is also a noticeable divide in firearm perception between the rural and urban populace. However, in recent years, gun purchases in cities have also been on the increase since the past decade. 

35. Pennsylvania

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
27.1% 236,377 ~12,820,900

Gun laws within the state are quite friendly, and hunting is quite a common hobby among residence. Recreational shooting is also a commonly cited reason for firearm ownership. 

36. Missouri

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
27.1% 72,995 ~6,169,270
Obtaining a gun Is very easy in Missouri, and a strong culture is also present, which makes the average figure of gun ownership rather surprising.

37. Oregon

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
26.6% 61,383 ~4,301,090

Like in Washington, firearm perception tends to vary between the urban and rural populations. Gun laws are reasonable, and hunting is the biggest cited reason for firearm purchases.  

38. Illinois

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
26.2% 146,487 ~12,659,700
The state of Illinois features somewhat restrictive gun laws. The state doesn’t seem to have a strong gun culture, so, if anything, the current rate of gun ownership comes as a bit of a surprise as being a bit higher than one expects. 

39. Massachusetts

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
22.6% 37,152 ~6,976,600

A positive perception of firearms isn’t all that common within the state, and gun laws are restrictive. Recreational shooting seems to be the most commonly cited reason for firearm ownership. 

40. Maine

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
22.6% 15,371 ~1,345,800
Despite having among the friendliest gun laws on the East coast, Maine features an ownership rate that is below that of the US average. Likely, it could be a combination of extremely low rates of crime and shooting sports not being all that popular among residences. 

41. Maryland

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
20.7% 103,109 ~6,083,120

Gun laws within the state are highly restrictive, which makes it difficult to purchase and own firearms. 

42. California

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
20.1% 344,622 ~39,937,500
The perception of firearms inclines more towards the negative the Golden State. Gun laws are also highly restrictive, which may explain the low rate of firearm ownership. 

43. Nebraska

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
19.8% 22,234 ~1,952,570

Gun laws with Nebraska are permissive. Crime rates are low, and the ownership rate is largely accounted for by hunters and recreational shooters. 

44. Ohio

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
19.6% 173,405 ~11,747,700
Gun laws are friendly in Ohio, but a relative lack of interest in guns and the state being overall relatively safe results in a low rate of gun ownership. 

45. Connecticut

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
16.6% 82,400 ~3,563,080

A very low crime rate and a negative perception of firearms translate to a low rate of gun ownership. Gun laws are restrictive but not suffocating.

46. New Hampshire

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
14.4% 64,135 ~1,371,250
Like its northern neighbor, New Hampshire also features highly friendly gun laws and a very low-rate of crime. Lack of interest in recreational shooting and hunting explains the very low gun ownership figure. 

47. New Jersey

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
11.3% 57,505 ~8,936,570
Gun laws are highly restrictive in New Jersey. This, along with a negative perception of firearms translates to a very low rate of gun ownership in the state  

48. New York

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
10.3% 76,207 ~19,440,500
The state of New York has probably among the worst gun laws in the country. A largely negative perception of a firearm also factors behind the low rate of gun ownership. 

49. Rhode Island

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
5.8% 4,223 ~1,056,160
Gun laws in Rhode Island are permissive, but a very low rate of crime plus little fondness of shooting as a sport among locals translates to a very low rate of firearm possession. 

50. Delaware

Gun Ownership  Total Registered Guns  Population 
5.2% 4,852 ~982,895

Gun laws in Delaware are somewhat restrictive. A very negative perception of firearms largely leads the cause behind the state having the lowest rate of gun ownership in all of the country. 

 

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