What Is Gun Ownership Like State by State

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There's no way to get a precise count of gun ownership in the United States on a state-by-state basis. That's due in large part to lack of national standards for licensing and registering firearms, which is left to the states and their varying degrees of regulation. But there are several reputable organizations that track firearms-related statistics, such as the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, which can provide a fairly accurate look at gun ownership by state, as well as annual federal licensing data.

Guns in the U.S.

According to the Small Arms Survey, there are more than 393 million guns in the U.S. That's more than one-third of all civilian-owned guns in the world, making America the No. 1 country in terms of gun ownership.

A 2017 survey by the Pew Research Center reveals some more interesting stats about guns in the U.S. Handguns are the most common choice of firearm among gun owners, especially those who only own one weapon. The South is the region with the most guns (about 36%), followed by the Midwest and West (32% and 31%, respectively) and the Northeast (16%).

Men are more likely than women to own a gun, according to Pew. Thirty-nine percent of men say they own a firearm, while 22% of women do. A closer analysis of this demographic data reveals that about 46% of rural households own guns, while just 19% of urban households do. Thirty-three percent of Americans aged 50 and older own at least one gun. For people between the ages of 30 and 49, 28% own a firearm. In the lowest age group—18- to 29-year-olds—own 27% own a gun. Politically, Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to own a gun.

Number of Guns Ranked by State

The following table shows the number of registered firearms in the U.S. by state. While reading, it's important to remember that only six states and the District of Columbia require the registration of firearms. The sum of registered firearms equals only 6,058,390, a far cry from the 393 million total in America. Still, this can give us an idea of how gun ownership breaks down by state.

For a different perspective, CBS conducted a telephone survey and ranked the states by guns per capita. You can find those results here.

Rank State # of guns registered
1 Texas 725,368
2 Florida 432,581
3 California 376,666
4 Virginia 356,963
5 Pennsylvania 271,427
6 Georgia 225,993
7 Arizona 204,817
8 North Carolina 181,209
9 Ohio 175,819
10 Alabama 168,265
11 Illinois 147,698
12 Wyoming 134,050
13 Indiana 133,594
14 Maryland 128,289
15 Tennessee 121,140
16 Washington 119,829
17 Louisiana 116,398
18 Colorado 112,691
19 Arkansas 108,801
20 New Mexico 105,836
21 South Carolina 99,283
22 Minnesota 98,585
23 Nevada 96,822
24 Kentucky 93,719
25 Utah 93,440
26 New Jersey 90,217
27 Missouri 88,270
28 Michigan 83,355
29 Oklahoma 83,112
30 New York 82,917
31 Wisconsin 79,639
32 Connecticut 74,877
33 Oregon 74,722
34 District of Columbia 59,832
35 New Hampshire 59,341
36 Idaho 58,797
37 Kansas 54,409
38 Mississippi 52,346
39 West Virginia 41,651
40 Massachusetts 39,886
41 Iowa 36,540
42 South Dakota 31,134
43 Nebraska 29,753
44 Montana 23,476
45 Alaska 20,520
46 North Dakota 19,720
47 Maine 17,410
48 Hawaii 8,665
49 Vermont 7,716
50 Delaware 5,281
51 Rhode Island 4,655

Additional References

CBS News staff. "Gun Ownership and Gun Violence in America, by the Numbers." CBSNews.com, 15 February 2018.

McCarthy, Tom; Beckett, Lois; and Glenza, Jessica. "America's Passion for Guns: Ownership and Violence by the Numbers." TheGuardian.com, 3 October 2017.

View Article Sources
  1. Karp, Aaron. Estimating Global Civilian-Held Firearms Numbers. Small Arms Survey, 2018.

  2. Parker, Kim, et al. America's Complex Relationship With Guns. Pew Research Center, 2017.

  3. Number of registered weapons in the U.S. in 2019, by state. Statista, 2019.

  4. Registration.” Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

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White, Deborah. "What Is Gun Ownership Like State by State." ThoughtCo, Jul. 31, 2021, thoughtco.com/gun-owners-percentage-of-state-populations-3325153. White, Deborah. (2021, July 31). What Is Gun Ownership Like State by State. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/gun-owners-percentage-of-state-populations-3325153 White, Deborah. "What Is Gun Ownership Like State by State." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/gun-owners-percentage-of-state-populations-3325153 (accessed June 11, 2023).