To say that gun laws are a contentious issue in the United States is putting it mildly. When asked whether the government should protect Americans’ Second Amendment right to bear arms or focus on controlling gun ownership, people in the U.S. are split roughly 50-50, with the pro-gun rights contingent having a slight edge, according to a 2015 Pew Research survey. Whatever their position, most respondents had a strong opinion on the question. About 91% of people who wanted to protect gun rights felt strongly about the issue, while 81% of people were just as firm in their feelings that we need more gun control.
Whether you’re hoping for increased restrictions on firearms or want more pro-gun legislation, you’ll want to take a close look at what’s happening in each state. Though occasional efforts to change federal gun laws get a lot of attention, most of America’s gun legislation happens on a state-by-state basis. Some states have adopted more stringent gun control measures, while others have been moving to liberalize gun laws, making it easier for people to carry weapons in public places, for example.
The result is a patchwork of legislation, with gun laws that are constantly in flux. Determining who has the strictest and loosest gun laws isn’t a straightforward task. Nonetheless, several organizations track and monitor state laws on guns.
We looked at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s 2016 Gun Law State Scorecard, Guns & Ammo’s 2015 ranking of the best states for gun owners, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence’s State Scorecard, and the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action. Based on that information, the following seven states have some of the fewest restrictions on guns in the U.S.