If you want to live in a state that respects gun rights and the 2nd Amendment, you might want to avoid the states on this list because they are the worst states for gun owners to live in.
While federal gun laws apply to the entire country, every state has slightly different laws and attitudes towards gun rights. Some states are very friendly towards gun owners. However, the worst states for gun owners to live in have very strict firearm regulations and can be downright hostile to law abiding citizens who own guns.
Fortunately, most places in the United States generally respect gun rights. However, there are a few states that really stand apart from the others with draconian gun regulations and hostile attitudes towards guns.
In this list of the worst states for gun owners to live in, the states were evaluated on the restrictions they place upon gun ownership, regulations regarding concealed carry, and the general attitude towards guns in each state.
Note: we realize the term "assault weapon" is a deliberately deceiving name invented by the anti-gun lobby for a wide variety of different (usually scary looking) firearms. Additionally, what exactly constitutes an "assault weapon" varies from state to state which makes it even less useful when using it to describe various firearms. For these reasons, we do not normally endorse the term.
So, why do we mention "assault weapons" in this article? It's because states with "assault weapon" bans quite often are states that are generally not gun friendly, which does make the term somewhat useful when trying to decide which states are the worst ones for gun owners.
If you care about gun rights, scroll down to see the eight worst states for gun owners to live in.
While Illinois used to be an absolutely terrible state for gun rights, things have gotten a little better there over the past few years, though it is still among the worst states for gun owners in the United States. The state has a "shall issue" system for issuing concealed carry permits and is the only entry on this list that is not a "may issue" state. However, one of the biggest strikes against Illinois is the fact that the state requires a license (an Illinois Firearm Owner's Identification card, or "FOID") to purchase or possess all firearms as well as ammunition. The state also has a three day waiting period for handguns and a one day waiting period for all rifles and shotguns.
Next up on this list of the worst states for gun owners is the state of Maryland. The state has an extremely restrictive "may issue" system for issuing concealed carry permits. In fact, the system is so restrictive that applicants must provide evidence of a clear and significant threat on their lives in order to justify receiving a permit. Maryland requires a permit to purchase a handgun and all handguns must be registered with the state police. Additionally, Governor Martin O'Malley signed a sweeping new gun control measure into law in response to the Newton, Connecticut shooting that requires anyone purchasing a handgun to submit fingerprints to the state police, limits all magazines to a maximum of 10 rounds, and bans virtually all types of assault weapons.
The state also has a generally hostile attitude towards guns and gun owners. With this in mind, it was not surprising to hear that Beretta decided to close down their operations in Maryland and move to Tennessee. If living in a state that respects gun rights is important to you, it might be wise to follow Beretta's lead and avoid Maryland.
Hawaii is another state that has extremely restrictive gun laws. Though Hawaii has some great beaches, fishing, and surfing, it is one of the worst states for gun owners. Like Maryland, Hawaii a very restrictive "may issue" system for issuing concealed carry permits and requires that applicants provide "good cause" to receive a permit. A permit is required to purchase all firearms and all firearms must be registered. This also includes any firearms brought into the state temporarily, such as a hunter bringing a rifle to the state on a hunting trip. Additionally, magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds are banned.
Even though Massachusetts was the birthplace of the American Revolution, gun rights in the state have deteriorated over the years and the state now ranks near the bottom on this list of the worst states for gun owners. A license is required to possess or purchase all firearms and ammunition. Assault weapons are banned in the state, as are magazines that can carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The state also has a "may issue" system for issuing concealed carry permits. The ease of obtaining a permit varies across the state: residents of Boston will find it extremely difficult to obtain a permit, but residents of rural areas are often able to get a permit approved.
California has long been a poster child for gun control activists all over the United States and it often seems like some of the lawmakers there relish the thought of California being one of the worst states for gun owners to live in. Not surprisingly, many municipalities in the state have a downright hostile attitude towards guns and gun owners. This is reflected in the extremely restrictive, complicated, and often confusing gun laws in the state. For this reason, many manufacturers must produce special models of firearms that are "California Approved." Other manufacturers and gun retailers have just given up doing any business in the state at all.
Assault weapons and .50 caliber BMG rifles are banned in California, as are magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. The state also has a 10 day waiting period on all gun purchases. Like Massachusetts, California has a "may issue" system for issuing concealed carry permits that varies across the state. Residents of rural counties will have much better luck getting a permit than residents of San Francisco or Los Angeles.
New Jersey is a rough state to live in if you're a gun owner. Like Maryland, New Jersey has an extremely restrictive "may issue" system for issuing concealed carry permits and requires applicants to provide evidence of a clear and significant threat on their lives in order to justify receiving a permit. A license is required to possess or purchase all firearms. New Jersey also tightly regulates assault weapons and maintains a specific and rapidly changing list of restricted firearms that are banned. Magazines that can carry more than 15 rounds of ammunition are also banned.
New Jersey also has a reputation for being very hostile towards guns and gun owners. The news is full of stories of otherwise law-abiding citizens traveling through New Jersey and getting entrapped by the confusing and restrictive gun laws there. You would be wise to exercise caution when traveling with a firearm to or though any of the entries on this list of the worst states for gun owners, but take particular care if your travels take you through New Jersey.
Like California, many lawmakers in New York also seem to take pride in the fact that New York is one of the worst states for gun owners. This was especially true when the state government passed the NY SAFE Act in response to the Sandy Hook shooting. Among other things, the law banned magazines that could hold more than seven (now 10) rounds, expanded the definition of assault weapons, created a registry of all assault weapons, and banned the transfer of assault weapons within the state. The law also specifically did not grandfather in any magazines that could hold more than the allowed number of rounds and required residents to either turn them in to police or transfer them to a resident of another state. The SAFE Act was rushed through the legislature and was so poorly written that legal experts were initially concerned that police officers in New York could technically be in violation of the law if they carried a magazine holding more than the allowed number of rounds in their duty handgun.
Partly due to the SAFE Act and partly due to the overall hostile attitude towards guns and gun owners by many in the state government, Remington Arms has started moving operations from their factory in Ilion, New York to a new facility in Alabama. If you're a law-abiding gun owner who wants to live in a state that respects the Second Amendment, you might want to avoid the home state of gun control zealot Michael Bloomberg.
Though Washington D.C. is technically not a state, it is still a municipality that is perhaps the worst place in the United States for gun owners to live. A license is required to possess and purchase all firearms and ammunition, all firearms must be registered with the police, assault weapons and .50 BMG rifles are banned, and the city has is an extremely restrictive "may issue" concealed carry system similar to the systems in New Jersey and Maryland. In fact, the concealed carry system in place was so restrictive that it was ruled unconstitutional, so the city is in the process of drafting a law that would institute a "shall issue" system of concealed carry in the city. However, even with that bit of good news for gun owners, Washington D.C. is still hands down the worst place in the United States for gun owners to live.
What do you think of our choices for the worst states for gun owners to live in? Did we miss any?