What Is Gun Ownership Like State by State

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There's no way to get a precise account 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 Washington Post, there are more than 350 million guns in the U.S. That figure comes from a 2015 analysis of data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). But other sources say there are far fewer guns in the U.S., perhaps 245 million or even 207 million. Even if you use a lower estimate, that's still more than one-third of all civilian-owned guns in the world, making America No 1. in terms of gun ownership in the world.

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 percent), followed by the Midwest and West (32 and 31 percent, respectively) and the Northeast (16 percent).

Men are more likely than women to own a gun, according to Pew.

About 40 percent of men say they own a firearm, while 22 percent of women do. A closer analysis of this demographic data reveals that about 46 percent of guns are owned by rural households, while just 19 percent of urban households do. The majority of gun owners are also old. About 66 percent of firearms in the U.S. are owned by people aged 50 and older.

People aged 30 to 49 own about 28 percent of the nation's guns, with the rest belonging to this 18 to 29. Politically, Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to own a gun.

Number of Guns Ranked by State

The following data is based on 2017 gun registration statistics from the ATF, as compiled by HuntingMark.com. States (plus Washington D.C.) are ranked by guns per capita. If you were to rank states by total guns registered, Texas would be No. 1. For a different perspective, CBS conducted a telephone survey that placed Alaska at the top of the per-capita ranking.

RankState# of guns per capita# of guns registered
1Wyoming229.24132,806
2Washington D.C.68.0547,228
3New Hampshire46.7664,135
4New Mexico46.7397,580
5Virginia36.34307,822
6Alabama33.15161,641
7Idaho28.8649,566
8Arkansas26.5779,841
9Nevada25.6476,888
10Arizona25.61179,738
11Louisiana24.94116,831
12South Dakota24.2921,130
13Utah23.4872,856
14Connecticut22.9682,400
15Alaska21.3815,824
16Montana21.0622,133
17South Carolina21.01105,601
18Texas20.79588,696
19West Virginia19.4235,264
20Pennsylvania18.45236,377
21Georgia18.22190,050
22Kentucky18.281,068
23Oklahoma18.1371,269
24Kansas18.0652,634
25North Dakota17.5613,272
26Indiana17.1114,019
27Maryland17.03103,109
28Colorado16.4892,435
29Florida16.35343,288
30Ohio14.87173,405
31North Carolina14.818152,238
32Oregon14.81661,383
33Tennessee14.7699,159
34Minnesota14.2279,307
35Washington12.491,835
36Missouri11.9472,996
37Mississippi11.8935,494
38Nebraska11.5722,234
39Maine11.515,371
40Illinois11.44146,487
41Wisconsin11.1964,878
42Vermont9.415,872
43Iowa9.0528,494
44California8.71344,622
45Michigan6.5965,742
46New Jersey6.3857,507
47Hawaii5.57,859
48Massachusetts5.4137,152
49Delaware5.044,852
50Rhode Island3.9837,152
51New York3.8376,207

 

Sources

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

Edwards, Jeff. "Gun Ownership Mapped: How Many Guns Each State Had In 2017?" HuntingMark.com, 18 February 2018.

Ingraham, Christopher. "There are Now More Guns Than People in the United States." WashingtonPost.com, 5 October 2015.

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

Parker, Kim; Horowitz, Juliana Menasche; Igielnik, Ruth; Oliphant, Baxter; and Brown, Anna. "The Demographics of Gun Ownership." Pew Research Center, 22 June 2017.

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White, Deborah. "What Is Gun Ownership Like State by State." ThoughtCo, May. 10, 2018, thoughtco.com/gun-owners-percentage-of-state-populations-3325153. White, Deborah. (2018, May 10). 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 18, 2018).