Gun Laws by State 2021

Unlike many federal laws, state gun laws are mandated by state-level governments. Since gun laws are regulated on a state level, the laws surrounding guns vary from one state to the next. There are many federal firearm laws in place and they are applicable to all fifty states, but beyond the laws set forth by the federal government, state gun laws cannot be changed by the federal government.

Political viewpoints and party affiliations play a part in the state gun laws because, truth be told, guns are a political discussion. Some parts of the United States have gun laws that are looser than the regulations set forth by the federal government, but some states are at the other extreme, with stricter enforced gun laws than those of the federal government.

When you hear the term of federal firearms laws, you might be under the assumption that it is absolutely required that citizens abide by them since they are being put forth at such an official level of authority. However, this is actually not the case!

The result of a court case between Printz and the United States government, the Supreme Court justices ruled that local state governments do not have uphold and enforce the firearms laws of the federal government. The more you know! Forty of the fifty states in the US have something in place that protects their residents' access to the second amendment, which is the right to bear arms.

Federal Firearms Laws in the United States

The act of carrying firearms in the United States can be defined in two different ways, and you'll see each of these descriptions pop up in discussions about state gun laws in the US. You can either carry a firearm as a concealed carry weapon or as an open carry weapon.

Concealed carry firearms are tucked away and not visible to people around you, whereas an open carry firearm is out in the open without any attempt to disclose the fact that you have a weapon on your person. Each state level government is in charge of how their residents are allowed to carry firearms within that particular state's borders.

Likewise, states determine whether or not you need a permit to carry weapons in public spaces. There are not any states that explicitly deny citizens the right to bear arms, primarily because this is technically illegal, given the nature of the United States Constitution.

However, states can get around the illegality of banning their residents from carrying weapons by making an application process as daunting, exhaustive, and lengthy as possible. In doing so, people either give up or do not meet the requirements necessary for obtaining a permit, and therefore, carrying a firearm is not possible after all.

State Level Gun Law Statistics

On the state level, seven U.S. states completely ban any and all open carry activity. Only eight of the fifty states require that people who own firearms register their weapons with the state. Twenty-two states in the US enforce regulations known as deadly force laws.

There is also something called the Stand Your Ground Law. For many people, this law creates instances where murder is excusable and legal. For others, they are in full support of the right to defend their property, selves, families, and belongings. No matter your opinion on the law, the truth of the matter is that twenty-seven states in the US uphold the Stand Your Ground Law.

Essentially, this state-level law permits people to use deadly force if it is under the category of protecting themselves. This is a very loose way of defining the law, which is why so many different issues arise from it. Reasons and restrictions for using deadly force on an intruder, a stranger, or a person you know include…

  • Their behavior is unlawful or dangerous.
  • Someone is breaking into your home, office, car, or other piece of property.
  • Nothing you have done prompted the behavior of the individual.
  • The intruder is not a police officer on duty.
  • The genuine possibility or fear that the intruding person will inflict serious harm should he or she enter the premises.

Individual States and their Gun Laws as of 2019

Now, for a look into the individual states and whether you can…

  • Carry your handgun without a permit
  • Purchase a handgun without a permit
  • Own a handgun without registering it
  • Open carry your handgun each of the fifty US states.

Gun Laws by State 2021

State Firearm Registration Required? Permit Required to Carry? Permit Required to Purchase? Open Carry Legal?
New YorkYesYesYes*
New JerseyYesYesYes*
West Virginia***Yes
South Dakota*Yes*Yes
South Carolina*Yes**
Rhode Island*YesYesYes
North Dakota*YesYesYes
North Carolina*YesYesYes
New Mexico*Yes*Yes
New Hampshire***Yes

Gun Laws by State 2021