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Best States for Gun Owners (2019)

Guns & Ammo's annual ranking of gun-friendly states. From worst (New York) to best (Arizona), here are the best states for gun owners in 2019.

Best States for Gun Owners (2019)

Top 5 - Best Gun-Friendly States

1. Arizona
2. Idaho
3. Alaska
4. Kansas
5. Oklahoma

Bottom 5 - Worst Gun-Friendly States

47. California
48. Hawaii
49. New Jersey
50. Massachusetts
51. New York

Things were looking uncertain for gun owners in many states in 2018 thanks to a successful push in otherwise pro-­gun states to enact gun control legislation. Things seem to have stabilized in 2019. We are, at least for now, back to normal with states on the extreme ends of the spectrum growing increasingly divergent in terms of gun laws. The very pro-­gun states have moved the ball forward for gun owners while the anti-­gun states have enacted further restrictions.

As we have done for several years now, we have evaluated each state numerically for 2019 in each of these five categories: Right-­To-­Carry/Concealed Carry Weapon (CCW), access to Black Rifles, the states’ Use-­of-­Force laws (also known as Castle Doctrine), the prohibition of items regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA), and a catch-all Miscellaneous column. States are awarded 0-­10 points in each category and ranked according to their total number of points. In the case of a tie, which is common, we dig deeper into the Miscellaneous category and rank states accordingly. Please note that while we have done our best to rank states as objectively as possible, you my disagree with our findings. No article of this length and researched by a single author could capture every nuance of a state’s statutory and regulatory framework.

Right-­to-­Carry 

This category is evaluated using the criteria applied in our “Best States for CCW” rankings: Standard for issuance, training requirements, cost, reciprocity, and the extent of locations where licensees are prohibited from carrying. May-­issue states that rarely issue permits are graded accordingly, and can receive 1-­6 points depending on the standard review factors. Shall-­issue states (i.e. states that require that a permit be issued so long as the applicant is qualified) are given 6-­8 points. States with Legal Permitless or “constitutional” carry laws are given 9 points, whereas states that both issue permits and allow citizens to carry without one are given a full 10-­point score. States that issue permits and allow for permitless carry for residents only are given 9.5 points. Open Carry laws are considered under the miscellaneous column and can also be used as a tiebreaker.

Black Rifles 

This category examines whether a state regulates or bans firearms based on their appearance. These laws often require registration of certain firearms and, in some states, ban ownership altogether. Our rankings reflect whether a state regulates any category of firearm by its features or limits the capacity of magazines. Last year, we deducted a point for states with bump stock bans but, with the enactment of a national ban, the point is moot.

NFA 

The National Firearms Act (NFA) regulates the sale, transfer and possession of machine guns, suppressors (actually called “silencers” in the law), short-­barreled rifles (SBR), short-­barreled shotguns (SBS), Any Other Weapons (AOW), and Destructive Devices (DD). This federal statute allows states to further restrict these items (we use the term “items” since suppressors are not firearms but are covered under the NFA), and some states ban their ownership altogether or piecemeal. We rank each state based on a sliding scale of regulations. This has been an active category in recent years, as states have moved to legalize the ownership and use of suppressors.

Castle Doctrine 

The term “Castle Doctrine” has become shorthand for a state’s Use ­of Force laws. Some states require citizens to retreat before the use of deadly force is authorized. We rank states based on the right to use force both inside and outside of homes and businesses. We award maximum points to states that allow the use of force wherever a person has a legal right to be, and protect citizens from both criminal and civil liability if appropriate force is used.

Miscellaneous 

This is the most subjective category in our survey, but allows us some leeway in our ability to quantify the culture and environment in a given state. We use this category to track preemption statutes, laws and rules that fall outside of our other buckets, as well as the availability of places to shoot. States with thriving competitive shooting communities are also recognized here, and states with laws that allow for gun confiscation without due process (i.e. Red Flag laws) are penalized.

51. New York

New York had enjoyed a few quiet years since the passage of the draconian “NY SAFE Act” (Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act) in 2013, but that honeymoon ended when Democrats gained control of majorities in both houses of the “Empire State’s” legislature. During the first month of 2019, five separate gun bills were passed along party lines. Among the bills were mandatory storage legislation, as well as a Red Flag bill. Worse yet, these bills were passed without public hearings that would have allowed residents to speak their minds. So much for transparency. New York doesn’t allow for NFA firearms, and magazine capacity is restricted to 10 ­rounds. Carry permits can be obtained on a may-­issue basis but they are notoriously difficult to get, especially in New York City where a separate permit is required. (2018 rank: 51)

50. Massachusetts

This May, Massachusetts passed a comprehensive gun bill that, among other things, created a Red Flag system and categorized stun guns as firearms. The reality is that Massachusetts is a state where things can’t get too much worse for gun owners. Magazines are limited to 10 rounds and no NFA items are legal to possess in the “Bay State”. The state gets 3 points in the RTC column, as their may-­issued permit system does actually issue some permits. There is a duty to retreat in Massachusetts where one must “do everything reasonable in the circumstances to avoid physical combat before resorting to force” in self-­defense cases, which lands the state 5 points under the Castle Doctrine category. (2018 rank: 49)

49. New Jersey

Last year, New Jersey banned magazines that exceeded 10 rounds. There was no Grandfather Clause, and the deadline to remove or destroy magazines was last December. This year, the General Assembly passed legislation mandating that retailers offer “smart guns” for sale, even though the technology does not currently exist in the marketplace. This is N.J.’s second look at a “smart gun” law after a similar proposal was passed back in 2002. CCW permits are expensive and all but impossible to obtain. In almost all known cases, only police and retired law enforcement can obtain a New Jersey Concealed Handgun Permit. NFA items are banned in the state. (2018 rank: 50)

48. Hawaii

This year, Hawaii raised the age in which a non-­resident can bring a firearm into Hawaii from 18 to 21. Hawaii has a may-­issued CCW system that issues no permits, resulting in a practical ban on concealed carry. Magazine capacity is limited to a 10-­rounds limit, and all NFA firearms and accessories are prohibited. The state has relatively weak Use ­of Force laws, earning in 4 points in the Castle Doctrine column. (2018 rank: 48)

47. California

It’s pretty safe to say that California Governor Gavin Newsome is one of the most outspoken chief executives in the nation when it comes to advocating for gun control. California is a very challenging state for gun owners despite a rich historic culture epitomized by the birth of practical pistol shooting in the state. California recently implemented one of the most strict semi­auto bans in the country, which costs the state several points in the Black Gun category. May ­issued Concealed Carry permits are issued on a county-­by-­county basis, and whether you can actually obtain a permit varies wildly by geography. NFA items are a mixed ­bag and suppressors are not allowed. (2018 rank: 46)

46. Washington D.C.

Our nation’s capital has gone from being one of the worst places in America for gun owners, to one that actually allows for gun ownership and even concealed carry. As a result of several court actions, D.C. is now a “Shall-­Issue” jurisdiction for CCW for both residents and non-­residents. D.C.-­specific training, along with more general firearms training, is required, and non-­residents must have a valid permit from any state. D.C. still requires the registration of all firearms, and many firearms and magazines are banned from ownership. Black Guns are a no-­go, as are NFA items. (2018 rank: 47)

45. Connecticut

Last year the Connecticut legislature considered a bill that aimed to criminalize the possession of unserialized “90% receivers” attempting to prevent the manufacturing of so-­called “ghost guns”. This session a bill was signed into law that effectively prevents citizens from manufacturing firearms for their own use, something that is legal under federal law. The state also passed mandatory storage requirements for both homes and automobiles, which means you now have to install a safe in your car in order to leave a handgun in it. CT has a may-­issue CCW system that does issue permits, and Connecticut’s Use ­of Force laws are fairly strong. Suppressors are permitted, but Black Guns and magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds are restricted. (2018 rank: 45)

44. Maryland

Several anti-­gun bills were introduced this year in Maryland, but fortunately all of them died upon adjournment. Carry permits are extremely difficult to obtain in the state’s may-­issue framework, but there is the option of appealing a denial to a five-­member review board. Since the board was actually doing its job and issuing some permits, the legislature tried to have it disbanded. The state’s governor vetoed that bill. Permits to purchase a handgun are required, and Black Rifles are restricted. Somewhat surprisingly, the state gets full points in the NFA category. (2018 rank: 44)

43. Rhode Island

Rhode Island saw an attempt to tax firearms an additional 10 percent this year, as well as legislation to ban 3D printed guns. The state issues carry permits if an applicant meets the statutory requirements, though it is still a may-­issue state. Black Rifles and their magazines are legal, but NFA items are banned for everyone but dealers. The “Ocean State” imposes a duty to retreat on civilians who are attacked outside of their homes which costs the state points in the Castle Doctrine category. (2018 rank: 43)

42. Delaware

For the second year in a row, Delaware considered bills that would ban sweeping categories of firearms in the state. Under current law, Black Guns and magazines of any capacity are legal. CCW permits are issued and 20 state’s permits are recognized by Delaware. Machine guns and suppressors are illegal, but SBRs and AOWs are permitted, earning the state only a single point in the NFA category. (2018 rank: 42)

41. Illinois

Newly-­elected billionaire Governor Jay Pritzker didn’t waste much time this January signing a bill into law that effectively creates an electronic registration system, and also places additional regulatory burdens on gun dealers. Several other anti-­gun bills were considered and could still pass during the state’s fall veto-session. Illinois issues permits to both residents and non-­residents, but there is no reciprocity with any other state. Black Rifles and magazines are unrestricted by state law, but are regulated by some cities. Illinois has strong Use ­of ­Force laws, but receives only 2 points for its restrictive NFA laws. (2018 rank: 41)

40. Colorado

This session, the state’s legislature passed and the governor signed registration creating a Red Flag system. Black Guns are legal, but magazines holding more than 15 rounds are restricted by state law. Colorado has a Shall-­Issue CCW statute, so permits are issued so long as the requirements are met. Outside of the large cities, Colorado has a strong shooting and hunting culture and some fantastic ranges. (2018 rank: 40)

39. Minnesota

The 2018 election flipped the Minnesota House of Representatives from Republican to Democrat (DFL), and the chamber came into 2019 with a clear anti-­firearm agenda. Fortunately, the Senate stood up for the state’s gun owners and the measures were ultimately defeated. So much for gun control not being a partisan issue. Minnesota uses a Shall-­Issue CCW permit that is valid for both concealed- and open-carry. There is also a Castle Doctrine law on the books, earning the state 6 points in that column. C&R machine guns and short-­barreled shotguns are legal, as are suppressors and SBRs. The state loses points in the Black Rifle category since a transferee permit is required, though a carry permit does satisfy the law. (2018 rank: 39)

38. Washington

We warned you about a Bloomberg-­funded ballot initiative in last year’s report, and unfortunately, it passed. Despite lawsuits filed to stop it, I-1­639 is being implemented. This measure requires receivers of semiauto rifles to be 21 instead of 18, and bans sales to non-­residents. Purchasing a semiauto rifle will also require a training course, a mandatory 10-­day wait, payment of a processing fee, and that the they be stored securely. The implementation of this legislation costs the state points in the Black Rifle column where it previously received full credit. Washington State’s NFA laws are a mixed bag and net 6 points. As in last year’s report, the state’s strong Use of ­Force statute earn it full points in the Castle Doctrine category. (2018 rank: 38)

37. Vermont

Though Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed a significant anti-­gun bill in 2018, he vetoed legislation this year that would have placed a 24-­hour waiting period on handguns. Vermont has allowed for permitless carry for more than a century, but the state does not issue permits, which costs it a point. Vermont is one of the safest places in the U.S. to live and boasts the second-­lowest violent crime rate in the nation. Roughly one third of Vermonters are gun owners. (2018 rank: 37)

36. New Mexico

A bill to eliminate private firearm transfers among individuals did pass and was signed by the governor going into effect on July 1st. Four other anti-­gun bills failed to advance, including a Red Flag bill. New Mexico has a Shall-­Issue CCW law that could use some updating. The state gets 10 points in both the NFA and Black Rifle categories with no restrictions placed on either. The state’s Use of Force laws aren’t very strong in terms of protecting victims, so it only receives 5 points in that category. Like most of the west, New Mexico has a strong gun culture once you escape the large cities. (2018 rank: 36)

35. Iowa

The Iowa General Assembly took the first step in enshrining the “right to keep and bear arms” in the United States constitution. The resolution must be voted on again during next year’s session before it can appear on the ballot for voters to approve. Iowa issues CCW permits on a shall-­issue basis, earning it 8 points. The Hawkeye State loses several points in the NFA category since most items other than suppressors are banned in the state. The Brownells store in Grinell is an impressive place and worth the stop-off nearby I-­80. (2018 rank: 35)

34. Nebraska

Nebraska’s Unicameral legislature is one of the toughest places in the nation to pass a bill into law, which cuts both ways. It was good news this year when an anti-­gun bill failed to pass, but it has long prevented passage of legislation that would prevent municipalities from enacting their own gun control ordinances. Nebraska’s Shall Issue CCW law, which has been on the books since 2006, earns the “Cornhusker State” 7 points. The state gets full points in both the Black Rifle and NFA categories, as neither are restricted by state law. Use ­of Force laws are relatively weak and only earn the state 5 points. (2018 rank: 34)

33. Oregon

A sweeping measure that would have enacted both age restrictions and storage requirements on gun owners failed to pass this year. A victory came in 2018 when a ballot measure that would have banned or restricted a broad variety of rifles, shotguns, handguns and magazines, was abandoned. Thanks to its failure to pass, Oregon maintains full points in the Black Gun category. Oregon’s Use of ­Force laws earn it 8 points. Like every state on the “Left Coast,” the gun culture in inland sections of the state contrast greatly with the coast. Leupold and Nosler are both headquartered in Oregon. (2018 rank: 33)

32. Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania, traditionally a state where hunting is extremely popular, is one of few places left in the country where Sunday hunting is not allowed. This year, the state senate passed legislation which would legalize Sunday hunting, a bill that the House could take up when members return to Harrisburg this fall. The “Keystone State” has a shall-­issue CCW statute and there are no specific regulations on Black Rifles or NFA items. The state receives 8 points for its strong Use ­of ­Force laws. (2018 rank: 32)

31. Virginia

As an increasingly ­blue state, the Commonwealth of Virginia has been ground zero for gun control bills over the past few years. This year, the legislature considered a half-­dozen bills ranging from a ban on private transfers, to banning most semiauto rifles and magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds. Fortunately, these bills were defeated during the state’s legislative session. The bad news was, in the wake of a deadly shooting, the Governor called a special session in an attempt to ban suppressors. That effort failed also. Open Carry is legal without a permit, even in the major cities, and CCW permits are issued on a Shall-Issue basis. Virginia recognizes permits from all other states. The commonwealth gets 10 points for its strong Use ­of ­Force laws. (2018 rank: 30)

30. Maine

Maine’s new Governor signed a Range Protection law in March, and a laundry list of anti-­gun bills were defeated in the legislature. Maine gets full points in the Right ­to ­Carry category since it allows for Permitless Carry and also issues permits for those who desire them. Maine also gets full points in the Black Rifle and NFA columns as, despite attempts to the contrary this year, neither are regulated by state law. The only room for improvement relates to the state’s Use ­of ­Force laws that impose a duty to retreat outside of the home. (2018 rank: 29)

29. South Dakota

Always a pro-­gun state, South Dakota has raised the bar in recent years and moved ­up significantly in our survey. The state legislature passed, and the Governor signed two important bills in 2019: An enhancement of the state’s preemption statute, and Permitless Carry. The permitless carry law went into effect on July 1. The state will continue to issue permits for those who desire them, earning it 10 points. The only place for improvement is the state’s Use ­of ­Force laws, which could go a lot further in protecting victims of violent crime. (2018 rank: 31)

28. Louisiana

The Louisiana Legislature put two pro-­gun bills on Governor Edwards’ desk this year and he signed both. These bills strengthened the state’s Concealed Carry laws relating to schools and churches. Several anti-­gun bills were defeated, as well. The state’s CCW laws are relatively good, but the list of prohibited locations is long and permit fees are relatively high. The state gets high marks for its Use ­of ­Force laws, as well as in the Black Rifle and NFA categories. (2018 rank: 27)

27. Michigan

Not much legislative activity to speak of in Michigan, which isn’t necessarily bad news. Michigan receives 7 points in the CCW category thanks to fairly strong Shall-Issue process. The state’s Strong Use ­of ­Force statutes earn it 10 points, which could come in handy in Detroit, home to the highest murder rate in the nation. The state receives full points in both the NFA and Black Gun columns but, somewhat surprisingly, registration of handguns is required. (2018 rank: 26)

26. North Carolina

Several anti-­gun bills were introduced by Democratic members of the state’s General Assembly but, thankfully for North Carolinians, none made it out of the House. The “Tar Heel State” earns 8 points for its CCW law, and no state restrictions are in place regarding Black Guns, magazines or NFA items. The state receives 9 points in the Castle category for its strong Use ­of ­Force laws. North Carolina’s handgun-permit requirement costs it some miscellaneous points. (2018 rank: 25)

25. Nevada

Long considered a very pro-­gun state, things in Nevada took a turn this year after electing a new governor. In June, Governor Sisolak signed legislation that imposed mandatory storage requirements, a Red Flag confiscation program and prevention of certain firearm modifications. Nevada still receives 8 points for its CCW statue, and 10 points in the Black Rifle and NFA columns. Nevada will be a state to watch for anti-­gun activity as it continues to drift politically to the left. (2018 rank: 24)

24. Florida

After passing its first anti-­gun bill in decades last year, the Florida Legislature moved in the opposite direction in 2019 when a bill passed allowing teachers to be armed under the state’s “Guardian” program. Yes, the 132 hours of mandated training is pretty much a barrier to entry for most teachers, but it is a step in the right direction. The “Sunshine State” lost some points in the Miscellaneous category last year, but still earns 8 points for its groundbreaking CCW law and strong Use ­of Force law. The 2018 ban on bump stocks was rendered moot by the executive order banning them nationwide. A 2020 ballot initiative to ban many semiautos is being considered, but it has a long road ahead. (2018 rank: 23)

23. Ohio

Governor Kasich vetoed legislation this year that expanded the state’s self ­defense laws, as well as prevented municipalities from enacting their own gun control ordinances. The legislature didn’t blink though, and overrode the veto to make the bill a law. This statutory change brings the state up to 9 points in the Castle Doctrine category and moves the state forward significantly in our survey. The “Buckeye State” gets 8 points for its CCW law, and 10 points in both the NFA and Black Rifle categories. (2018 rank: 28)

22. South Carolina

One again, South Carolina considered a Permitless Carry bill that failed to advance. South Carolina gets 7 points in the CCW column, losing a point for its limited-permit reciprocity. The state’s Use ­of Force laws are strong which earn it a full 10 points. The state also gets full points for its NFA and Black Rifle laws, as both are unregulated by statute. South Carolina has become a destination for individuals fleeing the weather, taxes and regulation of the Northeast — here’s hoping that those new residents leave their firearm politics back home. (2018 rank: 22)

21. Wisconsin

After many years under pro-­gun Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin has a new chief executive who has signaled that he is not a friend to the state’s gun owners. The “Badger State” has a strong RTC law that earns it 8 points, and it receives 10 points in both the Black Rifles and NFA categories. Wisconsin also has strong Use of ­Force laws that earn it maximum points in our column. (2018 rank: 21)

20. Indiana

A comprehensive pro-­gun bill passed out of the legislature and, at the time of this writing, is awaiting Governor Holcomb’s signature. This bill would increase protections for victims of crime who use deadly force; It extends CCW permits from 4 years to 5, and eliminates permit fees among other things. Indiana has a strong Right ­to ­Carry law that earns it 8 points. Indiana recognizes CCW permits from all other states and Open Carry is legal. The state gets 10 points in both the NFA and Black Rifle categories, and 8 points for its Use of ­Force statute which could go up if the Governor signs the aforementioned bill. (2018 rank: 20)

19. Arkansas

Arkansas passed legislation this year that slashed CCW permit fees and clarified the legality of NFA items, including suppressors. Arkansas scores well across the board with a strong CCW law, 10 points in the Black Rifle and NFA and columns. Arkansas does impose a conditional- Duty to Retreat outside the home which costs the state some points in the Use ­of ­Force/Castle Doctrine points. (2018 rank: 19)

18. Alabama

Alabama is a very pro-­gun state both in law and culture, but the legislature hasn’t shown the state’s gun owners much love in recent years. Bills to establish Permitless Carry and a Lifetime Carry permit failed to advance in 2019. The state receives 8 points for its existing Right ­to ­Carry statute where permits are issued county-­by-­county on a shall-­issue basis, and generally cost $20 per year. Alabama does not restrict Black Rifles, magazines or NFA items, gaining it full points in those categories. Opportunities for competitive shooting in various disciplines exist throughout the state. (2018 rank: 18)

17. New Hampshire

Two anti-­gun bills await the governor’s signature or veto: One would virtually eliminate private firearm transfers, and the other would propose a 3-­day wait period. Governor Sununu has publicly stated that he is not interested in changing the state’s gun laws. These bills aside, New Hampshire is a very pro-­gun state, especially by New England standards. Permitless Carry has been in effect since 2017, giving the state full points in the CCW category since it also issues permits on a shall-­issue basis. New Hampshire also gets full points in the Black Gun, NFA and Castle Doctrine categories. (2018 rank: 17)

16. Mississippi

Mississippi gets full credit in the CCW column thanks to both a Permitless Carry statute and a Shall Issue permit system. The governor recently signed a bill that clarified an issue relating to carrying in courtrooms, which is allowed for holders of the state’s enhanced carry permit. Mississippi does not restrict Black Guns or NFA items, so it receives full points in both categories. From a cultural standpoint, Mississippi is a very pro-­gun state. (2018 rank: 16)

15. West Virginia

West Virginia considered a Campus Carry bill in 2019, but that legislation died in a Senate committee. The state gets a full 10 points for the RTC/CCW, NFA and Black Rifle categories. Every year I challenge the legislature to repeal the ban on displaying a gun for sale in store windows. The law hasn’t changed, but during a recent trip to the state I actually saw firearms displayed in the window of a gun shop. So, apparently, it is not enforced. (2018 rank: 15)

14. North Dakota

Last year, I reported that an attorney general opinion clarified that Permitless Carry is legal in a vehicle so long as the individual has a valid North Dakota driver’s license or ID card. The state legislature codified that opinion in 2019, removing any doubt as to whether Permitless Carry was legal in a vehicle. North Dakota receives full points in the NFA and Black Rifle columns, but loses some points is on its Use of ­Force laws which aren’t quite as strong as some other states. At this point in the rankings, we really have to split hairs to rank these states. (2018 rank: 13)

13. Tennessee

This year, Governor Lee signed legislation to create a CCW permit with a lower training burden than the existing license; The only difference is that holders of this new permit will not be allowed to carry on college campuses. Campus Carry remains legal for holders of the handgun-carry permit. Once again, Tennessee receives maximum points in every category except CCW, where it earns 8 points. (2018 rank: 12)

12. Missouri

Missouri considered legislation this session that would have allowed citizens to carry on public transportation, but the bill did not advance before the legislature’s adjournment. Missouri joined the ranks of Permitless Carry states in 2017, giving the state 10 points in the Right ­to ­Carry column. Missouri gets 10 points in almost every category thanks to strong Use ­of Force laws, no restrictions on Black Rifles or NFA items, and a strong overall legal framework for gun owners. (2018 rank: 11)

11. Georgia

The 2018 midterm elections reduced the number of Republicans in the legislature, but they maintained a majority in both houses. A pro-­gun governor won by the slimmest margin imaginable. A bill to expand public hunting opportunities in the state was signed by Governor Kemp this year, and no anti-­gun bills made it through the legislature. Georgia has one of the strongest CCW laws in the nation as “permit” states go, and also gets 10 points in the NFA, Black Rifle and Castle Doctrine categories. (2018 rank: 10)

10. Texas

Governor Greg Abbott probably set a record in 2019 when he signed 10 separate pro-­gun bills into law. One of the bills allows school employees to keep guns locked in their cars on campus parking lots. Texas is, as many would suspect, a pro-­gun state across the board. It gets high marks for a strong CCW law that include Open Carry and strong Use ­of ­Force laws, and its lack of restrictions on Black Rifles, magazines or NFA items. Some of the most impressive range facilities in the nation reside in Texas’ wide-open spaces. (2018 rank: 9)

9. Montana

The same governor that vetoed the Permitless Carry bill in 2017, vetoed a firearm preemption bill this year. The former Attorney General has not exactly been a friend to gun owners in this otherwise extremely gun-­friendly state. Montana gets eight points for its Shall Issue permit system, and ten points in every other category. The state is a hunting mecca and has a thriving gun industry presence. (2018 rank: 8)

8. Wyoming

A bill that would have eliminated “gun free zones” failed to pass during this year’s legislative session, but there is little else that can be done to strengthen Wyoming’s gun laws. Wyoming is a Permitless Carry state for residents, and also recognizes permits of all other states, which earns it 9.5 points for CCW. The state gets full points for its Black Rifle and NFA laws, and 9 points for its Use ­of Force laws, which improved last year. (2018 rank: 5)

7. Utah

Utah already received full points for its Use ­of ­Force laws, but the governor signed legislation in 2019 that extended the protections on would-­be crime victims. Other than the CCW category, the state receives full points across the board thanks to strong Use ­of ­Force laws and a lack of individual restrictions that would affect Black Rifles or NFA items. Public hunting can get a bit crowded in Utah, but there are some amazing opportunities in the state’s diverse terrain. (2018 rank: 7)

6. Kentucky

Kentucky’s score went up this year when Governor Bevin signed permitless-carry legislation. This bill allows law ­abiding persons, both resident and non-­resident alike, to carry a firearm without the delay of obtaining a permit. Since the state both issues permits and allows for carry without them, it receives full points in the CCW column. The state also receives 10 points in the NFA, Black rifle and Castle Doctrine categories. (2018 rank: 14)

5. Oklahoma

Oklahoma got a new governor in 2018 and he was quick to enact a Permitless Carry bill early this year. Under the new law, Concealed Carry is legal without a permit so long as the individual is not a prohibited possessor. The law goes further than most by allowing members of the military who are over 18 to carry without a permit. Oklahoma does not place restrictions on Black Rifles, magazines or any NFA items earning it full points in those categories. (2018 rank: 6)

4. Kansas

Once again, a bill that would have expanded Kansas’ recognition of out of state CCW permits didn’t make it through the legislature this year, though the bill will carry over to 2020. Kansas gets full points in the CCW column with both Permitless Carry and a Shall ­Issue permit system in place. It also receives ten points in the Castle Doctrine, Black Rifle and NFA categories. It loses a bit of ground in the Miscellaneous column, as it is tough to compete with the states ahead of it in terms of gun culture. (2018 rank: 4)

3. Alaska

Nothing much happened in 2019 in Alaska, but that is likely because the state’s gun laws are about as strong as it gets. Alaska has the highest rate of gun ownership in the nation, and was the first state to allow for both Permitless and Permitted Carry. Alaska can’t compete with other states in terms of formal competitive shooting opportunities, but that is simply a matter of geography and population. From a pure statutory standpoint, Alaska is among the best states in the nation for gun owners. (2018 rank: 3)

2. Idaho

This spring, Idaho’s governor signed legislation extending Permitless Carry rights to 18- to 20-­year-­old residents. Idaho receives 9.5 points in the CCW column since both residents and active duty military members can carry without a permit. Idaho also receives full points in the NFA, Black Rifle and Miscellaneous categories. Idaho’s beauty has been discovered and the state’s population is growing fast — here’s hoping that the state can maintain its pro-gun culture despite that growth. (2018 rank: 2)

1. Arizona

No gun bills, either good or bad, passed this year, allowing Arizona to maintain the top spot in our survey. Arizona receives 10 points across the board thanks to its Permitless- and Permitted-Carry laws, a strong preemption statute, excellent Use of Force laws, and a lack of restrictions on individual firearms and accessories. Places to shoot, both recreationally and competitively, are many and the state has a strong firearm industry presence. Gunsite, the mecca of defensive shooting, is just outside of Prescott. (2018 rank: 1)

Check here for Guns & Ammo's Best States for Gun Owners in 2018

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