Annual Gun Law Scorecard

Year after year, the evidence shows that gun laws save lives in states with the courage to enact them.

F WY B+ WA C- WI F WV C- VT D VA D UT F TX D- TN F SD F SC B+ RI C+ OR D OH F OK C+ PA A- NY C+ NV C NM A NJ F ME F NH C NE F ND D NC F MS F MO C+ MN C MI A- MD A- MA F LA F KY F KS D- IN A- IL F ID C IA A- HI F GA C- FL B DE A- CT C+ CO A CA F AZ F AK F MT F AR F AL 10 STATES WITHTHE WORST GUNDEATH RATES
California
A

Gun Law Strength: 1 of 50 states

Gun Death Rank: 44 of 50 states

Stronger Gun Laws, Fewer Gun Deaths

State Gun Death Rates in Order of Gun Law Strength

National Average
Gun Death Rate per 100K: 11.9
CA
NJ
CT
NY
HI
MD
MA
IL
RI
WA
DE
PA
MN
CO
OR
NV
NM
NE
IA
MI
WI
FL
VT
NC
OH
VA
UT
IN
TN
NH
SC
GA
LA
ME
TX
WV
MT
AL
ND
OK
AR
AK
KS
SD
AZ
KY
MO
ID
WY
MS
A
B
C
D
F

California’s Gun Death Rate per 100K people: 7.8

Alabama lacks many basic gun safety laws and has not enacted meaningful gun safety legislation in recent years. Alabama has the country’s second-highest gun death rate and exports crime guns at the sixth-highest rate among the states. To save lives from gun violence, Alabama lawmakers could pass laws requiring background checks and waiting periods for all firearm sales, and strengthen regulations for assault weapons and large capacity magazines.

Learn more about Alabama’s gun laws.

Alaska has very weak gun laws and the highest gun death rate among the states. Despite its distance from the rest of the country, Alaska supplies crime guns to other states at the fifth-highest rate. Lawmakers in Alaska could save lives by passing a law requiring background checks for all firearm sales and passing an extreme risk protection order law.

Learn more about Alaska’s gun laws.

Arizona has some of the weakest gun laws in the nation. The state has the 18th-highest gun death rate and exports crime guns at more than twice the national rate. To protect its residents from gun violence, Arizona could enact an extreme risk prevention law and require background checks on all gun purchases.

Learn more about Arizona’s gun laws.

Arkansas has some of the weakest gun laws in the country and has enacted few meaningful gun safety laws in recent years. The state has the seventh-highest gun death rate in the country and supplies crime guns to other states at the 14th-highest rate. To save lives from gun violence, Arkansas could pass laws requiring background checks and waiting periods for all firearm sales and prohibit domestic violence misdemeanants from possessing firearms.

Learn more about Arkansas’s gun laws.

California has the strongest gun laws in the United States and was one of the first states in the nation to enact an extreme risk protection order law. The state has the seventh-lowest gun death rate in the country and the fifth-lowest crime gun export rate. To further strengthen its gun laws, California can increase funding to community violence prevention programs and address the ways some residents manage to skirt existing gun regulations.

Learn more about California’s gun laws.

Colorado has stronger gun laws than many states, but still has significant room for improvement. The state has the 24th-highest gun death rate and exports roughly the same number of crime guns it imports. To save lives, lawmakers in Colorado could pass laws requiring waiting periods for all firearm sales, raise the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21, and require owners to report lost and stolen firearms.

Learn more about Colorado’s gun laws.

Connecticut has some of the strongest gun laws in the country. The state has the fifth-lowest gun death rate and the seventh-lowest rate of crime gun exports. To further strengthen its gun laws, Connecticut could increase funding to community violence intervention programs and strengthen relinquishment laws.

Learn more about Connecticut’s gun laws.

Delaware has stronger gun laws than most states. The state has the 15th-lowest gun death rate and supplies crime guns to other states at the 21st-highest rate. To further strengthen its gun laws, Delaware could require a license to purchase a firearm, direct funding to community-driven violence intervention strategies in underserved communities, and restrict undetectable and untraceable firearms (also known as ghost guns).

Learn more about Delaware’s gun laws.

In 2018, Florida passed a robust package of gun safety laws following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The state has the 28th-highest gun death rate in the country and the 35th-highest rate of crime gun exports. To save lives from gun violence, Florida legislators could require a background check on all firearm sales, expand domestic violence firearm prohibitions to include dating partners, and direct funding to community-driven violence intervention programs.

Learn more about Florida’s gun laws.

Georgia has very weak gun laws. The state has the 19th-highest gun death rate, and guns used in crimes in other states originate in Georgia at nearly twice the national rate. To save lives from gun violence, Georgia could require background checks and waiting periods on all firearm purchases and prohibit domestic abusers from possessing firearms.

Learn more about Georgia’s gun laws.

Hawaii has some of the strongest gun laws in the nation. The state has the lowest gun death rate and exports crime guns at the third-lowest rate. To further strengthen its gun laws, Hawaii could regulate untraceable and undetectable firearms (also known as ghost guns) and direct funding to evidence-based, community-driven violence intervention strategies in underserved communities.

Learn more about Hawaii’s gun laws.

Idaho has very weak gun laws. The state has the 15th-highest gun death rate in the country and supplies crime guns to other states at the 18th-highest rate. To save lives from gun violence, lawmakers could require background checks on all firearm purchases and enact an extreme risk protection order law to allow the temporary removal of firearms from individuals in crisis.

Learn more about Idaho’s gun laws.

Illinois has stronger gun laws than the majority of the country. The state has the 20th-lowest gun death rate and imports crime guns from other states at the third-highest rate. To save lives from gun violence, lawmakers could strengthen the state’s licensing requirement and increase funding to community violence intervention programs.

Learn more about Illinois’s gun laws.

Indiana has fairly weak gun laws, though it was was one of the earliest states to enact a type of extreme risk protection order law. The state has the 20th-highest gun death rate and exports crime guns, particularly to neighboring Illinois, at the 11th-highest rate. To save lives from gun violence, Indiana could require a background check and waiting period for all firearm sales.

Learn more about Indiana’s gun laws.

Iowa has taken initial steps toward gun safety, but still has significant room for progress. The state has the tenth-lowest gun death rate and is a net exporter of crime guns. To save lives from gun violence, Iowa legislators could pass an extreme risk protection order law and require a background check and waiting period on all firearms, not just handguns.

Learn more about Iowa’s gun laws.

Kansas has some of the weakest gun laws in the country. The state has the 17th-highest gun death rate and exports crime guns at the 20th-highest rate. To save lives from gun violence, lawmakers could repeal the state’s dangerous permitless carry law and pass an extreme risk protection order law to facilitate the temporary removal of guns from individuals in crisis.

Learn more about Kansas’s gun laws.

Kentucky has some of the weakest gun laws in the country. The state has the 16th-highest gun death rate and supplies crime guns to other states at the eighth-highest rate. To save lives from gun violence, Kentucky could require background checks and waiting periods on all gun sales, and prohibit domestic abusers from possessing firearms.

Learn more about Kentucky’s gun laws.

Louisiana has some of the weakest gun laws in the nation. The state has the fourth-highest gun death rate and exports crime guns at the 16th-highest rate. Policies lawmakers should consider to save lives from gun violence include funding evidence-based community violence intervention programs and requiring background checks on all gun sales.

Learn more about Louisiana’s gun laws.

Maine has generally weak gun laws. The state has the 16th-lowest gun death rate in the country and supplies crime guns to other states at the 25th-highest rate. To protect residents from gun violence, lawmakers in Maine could repeal the state’s dangerous permitless carry law and require background checks on all gun sales.

Learn more about Maine’s gun laws.

Maryland has some of the strongest gun laws in the country. The state has the 22nd-lowest gun death rate and imports crime guns from other states at the highest rate in the country. To further strengthen its gun laws, Maryland legislators could regulate undetectable and untraceable firearms (also known as ghost guns) and increase funding to community violence intervention programs.

Learn more about Maryland’s gun laws.

Massachusetts has some of the strongest gun laws in the country and leads the nation in investing state funds to support evidence-based community violence intervention strategies. The state has the second-lowest gun death rate and imports three times more crime guns than it exports. To further strengthen its gun laws, Massachusetts legislators could strengthen relinquishment laws and regulate undetectable and untraceable firearms.

Learn more about Massachusetts’s gun laws.

Michigan has significant room for progress when it comes to gun safety. The state has the 14th-lowest gun death rate in the country and supplies crime guns to other states at less than half the national rate. To strengthen its gun laws, Michigan could enact an extreme risk protection order law and invest in proven community violence intervention strategies.

Learn more about Michigan’s gun laws.

Minnesota has enacted modest gun safety measures in recent years. The state has the eighth-lowest gun death rate in the country and exports crime guns at less than half the national rate. Examples of policies lawmakers in Minnesota could implement to save lives include requiring a permit to purchase a firearm, instituting point-of-sale background checks, and enacting an extreme risk protection order law.

Learn more about Minnesota’s gun laws.

Mississippi has among the weakest gun laws in the country. The state has the fifth-highest gun death rate and the highest rate of crime gun exports. To protect lives from gun violence, Mississippi legislators could require background checks and waiting periods before all gun sales, repeal the state’s dangerous permitless carry law, and invest in proven community violence intervention programs.

Learn more about Mississippi’s gun laws.

Missouri has appallingly weak gun laws. The state has the sixth-highest gun death rate in the country and exports crime guns at a higher rate than the national average. Missouri could save lives by investing in proven community violence intervention programs, requiring a background check and waiting period before every gun sale, and regulating undetectable and untraceable firearms.

Learn more about Missouri’s gun laws.

Montana has very weak gun laws. The state has the third-highest gun death rate in the country and exports crime guns at twice the national rate. To save lives from gun violence, Montana legislators could require background checks on all gun sales and pass an extreme risk protection order law.

Learn more about Montana’s gun laws.

Nebraska has enacted a few basic gun safety laws, but has significant room for improvement. The state has the ninth-lowest gun death rate in the country and the 13th-lowest rate of crime gun exports. In addition to expanding its background checks law, Nebraska legislators could pass an extreme risk protection order law and regulate undetectable and untraceable firearms.

Learn more about Nebraska’s gun laws.

In recent years, Nevada has made significant progress in its gun safety laws, but the state can still do much more to save lives from gun violence. The state has the 14th-highest gun death rate in the country and exports crime guns at the third-highest rate. To further improve the state’s gun laws, legislators could prohibit all domestic abusers from purchasing or possessing firearms and ammunition and require a waiting period before all gun sales.

Learn more about Nevada’s gun laws.

New Hampshire lacks many basic gun safety laws. The state has the 11th-lowest gun death rate in the country and exports crime guns at the 23rd-highest rate. To save lives from gun violence, New Hampshire could require a background check and waiting period on all firearm purchases and pass an extreme risk protection order law.

Learn more about New Hampshire’s gun laws.

New Jersey has some of the strongest gun laws in the country. The state has the sixth-lowest gun death rate and the nation’s lowest crime gun export rate. To further strengthen New Jersey’s gun laws, legislators could increase funding to proven community violence intervention programs and require firearms to be stored safely when not in use.

Learn more about New Jersey’s gun laws.

New Mexico has significantly strengthened its gun laws in recent years. The state has the tenth-highest gun death rate in the country and exports crime guns at the 17th-highest rate. To build on the progress of 2019, New Mexico legislators could fund proven community violence intervention programs and enact an extreme risk protection order law.

Learn more about New Mexico’s gun laws.

New York has some of the strongest gun laws in the country. The state has the third-lowest gun death rate and the second-lowest crime gun export rate. To continue to improve its gun safety efforts, New York legislators could increase funding for community violence intervention programs and strengthen its laws regulating undetectable and untraceable firearms (also known as ghost guns).

Learn more about New York’s gun laws.

North Carolina has significant room to improve its gun safety laws. The state has the 23rd-highest gun death rate in the country and imports crime guns at the 7th-highest rate. Improvements North Carolina could make to its gun laws include funding community violence intervention programs and enacting an extreme risk protection order law.

Learn more about North Carolina’s gun laws.

North Dakota has very weak gun laws. The state has the 25th-highest gun death rate in the country and the 15th-highest crime gun export rate. To save lives from gun violence, North Dakota could require a background check and waiting period on all gun purchases and enact an extreme risk protection order law.

Learn more about North Dakota’s gun laws.

Ohio has significant room for improvement with regard to gun safety. The state has the 22nd-highest gun death rate and is a net exporter of crime guns. To save lives from gun violence, Ohio legislators could require universal background checks and regulate undetectable and untraceable firearms (also known as ghost guns).

Learn more about Ohio’s gun laws.

Oklahoma has very weak gun laws. The state has the 13th-highest gun death rate in the country and exports crime guns at the 24th-highest rate. To protect residents from gun violence, Oklahoma legislators could require a background check and waiting period on all gun sales and require people who live with minors to store their firearms safely.

Learn more about Oklahoma’s gun laws.

While Oregon has enacted several basic gun safety laws, the state has significant room for improvement. Oregon has the 21st-lowest gun death rate and exports and imports crime guns at close to the national rates. To save lives from gun violence, Oregon legislators could require people who live with minors to store their firearms safely and restrict untraceable and undetectable firearms.

Learn more about Oregon’s gun laws.

Pennsylvania has enacted modest gun safety laws in recent years but still has significant room for improvement. The state has the 25th-lowest gun death rate in the country and exports crime guns at around the national average rate. In addition to expanding its background checks laws, Pennsylvania legislators should consider funding community violence intervention programs and passing an extreme risk protection order law.

Learn more about Pennsylvania’s gun laws.

Rhode Island has relatively strong gun laws. The state has the fourth-lowest gun death rate and imports twice as many crime guns as it exports. To help save lives from gun violence, Rhode Island legislators should consider restricting untraceable and undetectable firearms (also known as ghost guns) and funding community violence intervention programs.

Learn more about Rhode Island’s gun laws.

South Carolina has very weak gun laws. The state has the 12th-highest gun death rate in the country and exports crime guns at the seventh-highest rate. To save lives from gun violence, South Carolina could fund community violence intervention programs and require a background check before every gun purchase.

Learn more about South Carolina’s gun laws.

South Dakota has very weak gun laws. The state has the 18th-lowest gun death rate and is a net exporter of crime guns. Basic steps South Dakota could take to save lives from gun violence include requiring a background check and waiting period before all firearm sales and strengthening regulations for assault weapons and large capacity magazines.

Learn more about South Dakota’s gun laws.

Tennessee has weak gun safety laws. The state has the 11th-highest gun death rate in the country and exports crime guns at about 1.5 times the national rate. To save lives from gun violence, Tennessee legislators could require a background check and waiting period on all firearm purchases.

Learn more about Tennessee’s gun laws.

Texas has extremely weak gun laws. The state has the 27th-highest gun death rate and is a major importer of crime guns. In addition to repealing its dangerous campus carry law, Texas legislators should consider requiring background checks on all gun sales, enacting an extreme risk protection order law, and strengthening laws that restrict access to firearms by domestic abusers.

Learn more about Texas’s gun laws.

Utah has weak gun safety laws. The state has the 21st-highest gun death rate in the country and supplies crime guns to other states at twice the rate it imports them. To further strengthen Utah’s gun laws, legislators could require background checks for all gun sales and pass an extreme risk protection order law.

Learn more about Utah’s gun laws.

In 2018, Vermont significantly strengthened its very weak gun laws. The state has the 17th-lowest gun death rate in the country and supplies crime guns to other states at the 19th-highest rate. To build on the state’s recent progress, Vermont legislators could require a waiting period before all gun purchases, strengthen laws regarding gun possession by domestic abusers, and close the loophole that allows guns to be transferred before a background check is complete.

Learn more about Vermont’s gun laws.

Virginia has weak gun laws overall. The state has the 19th-lowest gun death rate and exports crime guns to other states at the 12th-highest rate. To save lives from gun violence, Virginia legislators could require a background check and waiting period before all gun purchases, enact an extreme risk protection law, and increase funding for community violence intervention programs.

Learn more about Virginia’s gun laws.

Over the past several years Washington has significantly strengthened its gun laws. The state has the 13th-lowest gun death rate in the country and supplies crime guns to other states at the 14th-lowest rate. To further improve its gun laws, Washington could invest in community violence intervention programs and close the dangerous loophole that allows abusive dating partners to keep their guns.

Learn more about Washington’s gun laws.

West Virginia has very weak gun laws. The state has the ninth-highest gun death rate in the country and exports crime guns at the second-highest rate. Basic steps West Virginia could take to save lives from gun violence include requiring a background check and waiting period before each gun purchase and repealing its dangerous permitless carry law.

Learn more about West Virginia’s gun laws.

While Wisconsin has enacted a handful of gun safety laws, the state still has significant room for improvement. Wisconsin has the 12th-lowest gun death rate in the country and exports crime guns to other states at the 15th-lowest rate. To save lives from gun violence, Wisconsin legislators could fund community violence programs and require background checks for all gun sales.

Learn more about Wisconsin’s gun laws.

Wyoming has some of the worst gun laws in the country. The state has the eighth-highest gun death rate and exports crime guns to other states at the fourth-highest rate. To save lives from gun violence, Wyoming could require background checks for all gun sales and repeal its dangerous permitless concealed carry law.

Learn more about Wyoming’s gun laws.

Gun Safety Laws Gaining Ground

The federal government may be mired in indecision and inaction, but a number of states have taken up the mantle of gun safety, passing lifesaving gun laws that protect ever greater swaths of Americans. For the first time in the history of our Gun Law Scorecard, more people in the United States live in A states than F states. There are more A states than ever before, and many of the most populous states have strong gun safety laws in place. Between 2012 and 2019, the number of Americans living in states with A grades increased by more than 45 million, while the number of people living in states with D and F grades declined.

While this state-level progress is remarkable, 21 states still received an F for their dangerously weak gun laws. To bring an end to our country’s gun violence epidemic, we must take action to remedy America’s inconsistent patchwork of state laws. States that require background checks for all gun sales, have closed dangerous loopholes that allow domestic abusers to access guns, and funded community violence intervention programs provide a blueprint for passing effective gun safety legislation. We need a federal government that will follow their lead.

Learn More

HOW SAFE IS YOUR STATE?

50-State Rankings

Gun Law
Strength
(Ranked)
State2019
Grade
Gun Death
Rate
(Ranked)
Gun Death
Rate
(Per 100K)
38 Alabama F 2 22.9
42 Alaska F 1 24.5
45 Arizona F 18 15.7
40 Arkansas F 7 20.2
1 California A 44 7.8
14 Colorado C+ 24 13.4
3 Connecticut A- 46 5.1
11 Delaware B 36 11.6
22 Florida C- 28 12.3
32 Georgia F 19 15.4
5 Hawaii A- 50 2.4
48 Idaho F 15 16.4
8 Illinois A- 31 12.1
28 Indiana D- 20 15.2
19 Iowa C 41 9.0
43 Kansas F 17 15.9
46 Kentucky F 16 16.2
32 Louisiana F 4 21.6
34 Maine F 35 11.6
6 Maryland A- 29 12.3
7 Massachusetts A- 49 3.7
19 Michigan C 37 11.2
13 Minnesota C+ 43 8.2
50 Mississippi F 5 21.5
46 Missouri F 6 21.3
34 Montana F 3 22.6
18 Nebraska C 42 8.3
15 Nevada C+ 14 16.7
30 New Hampshire F 40 10.3
2 New Jersey A 45 5.3
17 New Mexico C 10 18.5
4 New York A- 48 3.7
24 North Carolina D 23 13.6
39 North Dakota F 25 13.2
24 Ohio D 22 13.7
40 Oklahoma F 13 17.2
15 Oregon C+ 30 12.1
12 Pennsylvania C+ 26 12.4
9 Rhode Island B+ 47 3.8
31 South Carolina F 12 17.6
44 South Dakota F 33 11.8
29 Tennessee D- 11 18.4
34 Texas F 27 12.4
27 Utah D 21 14.0
23 Vermont C- 34 11.8
26 Virginia D 32 11.9
10 Washington B+ 38 11.1
34 West Virginia F 9 18.6
21 Wisconsin C- 39 10.5
48 Wyoming F 8 18.7

Gun Laws Save Lives

Annual state gun death rates per 100,000 by gun law strength ranking. Gun deaths tend to increase as grades weaken.
25
20
15
10
5
0
CA
NJ
CT
NY
HI
MD
MA
IL
RI
WA
DE
PA
MN
CO
OR
NV
NM
NE
IA
MI
WI
FL
VT
NC
OH
VA
UT
IN
TN
NH
SC
GA
LA
ME
TX
WV
MT
AL
ND
OK
AR
AK
KS
SD
AZ
KY
MO
ID
WY
MS
Trend Line
< Stronger Laws
Weaker Laws >
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Grades by Population

For the first time ever, more Americans live in A states than F states—but gun safety nationwide is undermined by the weak laws of failing states.
Scorecard Pie Chart 2019 29% OF US POP. | 94.7M PEOPLE | 21 STATES 14% OF US POP. | 47.2M PEOPLE | 6 STATES 23% OF US POP. | 76.3M PEOPLE | 12 STATES 3% OF US POP. | 9.6M PEOPLE | 3 STATES 30% OF US POP. | 98.7M PEOPLE | 8 STATES
TOTAL US POPULATION: 327 MILLION

LIFESAVING PROGRESS IN THE STATES

States have passed more than 135 gun safety laws since the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018. In the 2019 state legislative cycle alone, 22 states and DC signed 70 gun safety bills into law. While this progress is promising, with just over half the states still receiving failing grades, we can’t let up now.

We must continue to press both state and federal legislators to enact the laws and policies proven to save lives. During the state legislative cycle, our legal experts track and analyze both gun safety and gun lobby bills moving through state legislatures, rounding up our findings in biweekly editions of Gun Law Trendwatch. 2020 is shaping up to be another transformative year for gun violence prevention, with legislators in dozens of states introducing laws to make their communities safer.

LEARN MORE

HOW TRAFFICKING UNDERMINES STATE GUN LAWS

America’s inconsistent patchwork of state gun laws allows guns to move easily from states with weak gun laws into states with strong gun laws. Eight of the 10 states that traffic firearms at the highest rates have F grades. Once these trafficked firearms enter the black market, they are far more likely to be used in crime—nearly half of the crime guns recovered in states with A grades were originally sold in other states. Until we pass strong federal gun safety laws, the lifesaving strides made by states like California, Illinois, and Maryland will continue to be jeopardized by neighboring states with weak gun laws, leaving all Americans at greater risk of gun violence.

CALIFORNIA

California has the strongest gun laws in the nation but neighbors several states that don’t yet make the grade. Weaker laws in nearby states undermine California’s comprehensive gun safety laws, fueling gun crime and violence in the state—more than 10,000 guns are trafficked into California and used in crimes each year. While California has its own anti-trafficking laws, firearm trafficking is not treated as a federal crime, making enforcement difficult and enabling criminals to exploit weaknesses in the system. Ironically, California’s neighbors benefit from the state’s gun safety laws, as firearms originating in California are among the least likely to be recovered at crime scenes in other states.

ILLINOIS

Despite earning an A- for its gun laws, Illinois has a higher gun death rate than many states with similar laws because of guns trafficked in from nearby states. Nearly half the guns used in crimes in Illinois—and nearly 60% of the guns used in crimes in Chicago—are trafficked from states with weaker gun laws. The majority of these guns come from neighboring Indiana, which received a D- on the Scorecard for lacking many of the important gun safety protections Illinois has passed. Southern states with F grades, like Missouri, Kentucky, and Mississippi, also traffic hundreds of crime guns into Illinois each year.

MARYLAND

Traffickers often exploit gaps in federal law by purchasing guns at gun shows and in private sales in states that haven’t passed universal background checks. Maryland, which earned an A- on the Scorecard, has the nation’s highest rate of crime gun imports, with traffickers bringing in nearly three times as many guns to Maryland as the average state. Maryland sits on the Iron Pipeline, a route used to traffic firearms from southern states with weak gun laws to northeastern states with stronger laws. Nearly a third of crime guns recovered in Maryland were originally sold in Virginia. Guns from Georgia and Florida are also major contributors to violence in the state.

Our System for Grading the States

Each year, our attorneys track and analyze gun legislation in all 50 states, assigning laws and policies point values. States gain points for strong gun laws and lose points for laws that make their residents less safe. These points are tabulated and the states are ranked and then assigned letter grades. These grades are compared to the most recent gun death rates released by the CDC. Year after year, the evidence shows that states with stronger gun laws tend to have lower gun death rates.

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