Every responsible gun owner, and for that matter some irresponsible ones too, are all too aware that the gun laws vary immensely from state to state. From what type of ammo you are allowed to use, to the packaging the gun is shipped in, the idiosyncrasies governing the 2nd amendment are profuse and in many cases state-specific. It would make sense then, that some states are going to be more accepting of our American right to bear arms while others lack the same sensibilities. Here in Florida, we enjoy the quite a few freedoms that would make gun owners in other states drool. For instance, did you know that Florida is by far the leader in the amount of concealed weapons permits that have been issued? Even more than Texas (take that Texas, haha), with over 900,000 permits. . In fact, Machine Gun America itself is a product of Florida’s somewhat enlightened gun laws, and we could not agree more that, that is a good thing. While there are a number of variables on how “gun-friendly” a state is or is not there are most definitely states that should brag and other’s that are kind of a drag.
The following rankings of “The 5 Least Gun Friendly States and Ahy” is from ‘Guns and Ammo’. Please take the time to read their editor’s note at the end to better understand their ranking process.
Top 5 Least Friendly Gun States and Why:
*G&A has conducted a thorough review of each state’s laws and considered initiatives pending in state legislatures. Every effort has been made to create a ranking system that is fair, equitable, accurate and objective. States were ranked numerically in each of five categories: right-to-carry, right to own “black rifles” (i.e., firearms possessing a tactical appearance), presence of the Castle Doctrine, subjects relating to the National Firearms Act (NFA) and a catchall miscellaneous column.
Thomas Magnum may have rolled around the islands with a 1911 stashed in his micro shorts in the 1980s TV hit “Magnum P.I.,” but you’re unlikely to find a Hawaiian do this under the state’s tough “may issue” system. Hawaii’s gun laws are very restrictive. Permits to acquire are required for all firearms and were denied to legal resident aliens until a federal court intervened this year. A 10-round magazine restriction is on the books along with a complete ban on NFA items. Self-defense laws are mediocre. If you’re a hunter, there are some surprisingly good outdoor opportunities, which may be the only silver lining in paradise.
In case you thought the Bay State’s gun laws couldn’t get any worse, the legislature proved that it had room to ban more in 2014. Last year, those living in Massachusetts saw the enactment of legislation that allows mandatory firearm licenses to be denied for any arbitrary basis of “risk,” permitting local-
government abuse. Licenses are required for the ownership of all firearms, and tactical-looking rifles are all but banned unless grandfathered and registered. The state’s magazine capacity limit is 10 rounds. Carry permits are “may issue,” but they are actually obtainable. The state police can issue temporary nonresident permits.
#3 New Jersey
New Jersey gun owners had a victory in 2014 when Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would lower the state’s 15-round magazine capacity to 10 rounds. Another moral win occurred when the governor pardoned Shaneen Allen, a woman caught up in New Jersey’s gun laws when she made the mistake of crossing the bridge from Pennsylvania. A final victory came when the state’s attorney general ruled that the 2002 “Smart Gun” law (requiring handguns to be made with certain technology when it is commercially available) has not been triggered by “smart” prototypes in the marketplace. Ownership of tactical rifles is tightly regulated in New Jersey, and state law bans suppressors. Carry permits are “may issue” and are not readily available.
#2 New York
All we can say that’s positive about gun laws within the Empire State is that they haven’t gotten any worse this last year. After extensive gun control efforts in previous years, the New York legislature actually killed two anti-gun bills this session, one to ban .50-caliber rifles and the other requiring gun owners to lock up firearms in their homes. New York remains a very difficult state for gun owners, with mandatory handgun licensing, magazine capacity limits and a total ban on NFA items. Carry permits are granted on a “may issue” basis, and obtaining one is no easy task. You’ll still find some shooting sports activity in upstate areas, but the overall climate for gun owners is so bad that even industry giant Remington Arms Company is packing its bags for greener pastures.
#1 Washington, D.C.
While D.C. is hardly a home for America’s gun owners, things have improved slightly in the last few years. After the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the District’s ban on carrying a firearm outside the home for self-defense was unconstitutional, D.C. abandoned its attempt to enforce an outright ban on the carrying of handguns. Instead, the District is in the process of imposing a “may issue” permit system that is unlikely to issue many, if any, permits to law-abiding citizens within the city. D.C. residents must still register all firearms with the Metro Police Department, and legal shooting opportunities within the District are nonexistent. If you’re a gun owner looking to move to the D.C. area, take a hard look at Northern Virginia instead.
*Editor’s note: State-specific gun laws are a complicated, frustrating and fluid subject. We have consulted sources such as the National Rifle Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation and state and law enforcement agencies to compile these rankings. Some states are very hazy on certain statutes, so our data reflects those confusions with general statements based on our understanding of the law. All information is current as of July 2015.