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 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. 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.

Rank State # of guns per capita # of guns registered
1 Wyoming 229.24 132,806
2 Washington D.C. 68.05 47,228
3 New Hampshire 46.76 64,135
4 New Mexico 46.73 97,580
5 Virginia 36.34 307,822
6 Alabama 33.15 161,641
7 Idaho 28.86 49,566
8 Arkansas 26.57 79,841
9 Nevada 25.64 76,888
10 Arizona 25.61 179,738
11 Louisiana 24.94 116,831
12 South Dakota 24.29 21,130
13 Utah 23.48 72,856
14 Connecticut 22.96 82,400
15 Alaska 21.38 15,824
16 Montana 21.06 22,133
17 South Carolina 21.01 105,601
18 Texas 20.79 588,696
19 West Virginia 19.42 35,264
20 Pennsylvania 18.45 236,377
21 Georgia 18.22 190,050
22 Kentucky 18.2 81,068
23 Oklahoma 18.13 71,269
24 Kansas 18.06 52,634
25 North Dakota 17.56 13,272
26 Indiana 17.1 114,019
27 Maryland 17.03 103,109
28 Colorado 16.48 92,435
29 Florida 16.35 343,288
30 Ohio 14.87 173,405
31 North Carolina 14.818 152,238
32 Oregon 14.816 61,383
33 Tennessee 14.76 99,159
34 Minnesota 14.22 79,307
35 Washington 12.4 91,835
36 Missouri 11.94 72,996
37 Mississippi 11.89 35,494
38 Nebraska 11.57 22,234
39 Maine 11.5 15,371
40 Illinois 11.44 146,487
41 Wisconsin 11.19 64,878
42 Vermont 9.41 5,872
43 Iowa 9.05 28,494
44 California 8.71 344,622
45 Michigan 6.59 65,742
46 New Jersey 6.38 57,507
47 Hawaii 5.5 7,859
48 Massachusetts 5.41 37,152
49 Delaware 5.04 4,852
50 Rhode Island 3.98 37,152
51 New York 3.83 76,207

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.