Special Report

States Where Anyone Can Carry a Concealed Weapon

Michael B. Sauter, Thomas C. Frohlich

1. Alaska
> Concealed carry permit required: No
> Gun ownership rate: 61.7% (the highest)
> Firearm-related death rate: 19.7 per 100,000 (the highest)

Few states have more relaxed gun policy than Alaska. The state allows residents to carry a concealed weapon, and requires no background check, waiting period, or license to own a gun. It also does not require firearm dealers to obtain a license, and does not prohibit domestic abusers from buying or owning a gun. Given the state’s very relaxed gun laws, it is no surprise that a nation-leading 61.7% of Alaskans own firearms, more than double the national gun ownership rate of 29.1%.

Higher gun ownership rates tend to coincide with more gun-related violence. This is certainly the case in Alaska, which has the worst annual firearm death rate in the country at 19.7 for every 100,000 residents, nearly double the national rate of 10.3 gun deaths per 100,000 Americans.

2. Arizona
> Concealed carry permit required: No
> Gun ownership rate: 32.3% (25th highest)
> Firearm-related death rate: 13.8 per 100,000 (17th highest)

Arizona prohibits some individuals from owning a gun, including convicted felons, those convicted of domestic violence, and those found by a court to be a danger to themselves or society. However, for those outside those groups, the state is one of the most permissive in the country when it comes to gun laws. In addition to allowing residents to carry a concealed weapon in public, the state requires no background check, waiting period, or license to buy a gun. It does not prohibit the transfer or possession of assault weapons, .50 caliber weapons, or large capacity magazines.

Like many of the states with the least restrictive gun policies, Arizona has a higher than average firearm-related death rate. Also like many of these states, Arizona is a major source of guns used illegally in other states, ranking as the 15th largest exporter of crime guns to other states.

3. Idaho
> Concealed carry permit required: No
> Gun ownership rate: 56.9% (3rd highest)
> Firearm-related death rate: 13.0 per 100,000 (18th highest)

This year, Idaho passed a law allowing its residents to carry a concealed, loaded weapon in public anywhere in the state. This had previously only been legal outside of city limits. Idaho also imposes relatively few restrictions on gun purchases. Guns can be acquired without a license, background check, or waiting period.

Firearm dealers are also not licensed or otherwise limited by the state. Likely as a result, there are roughly 32 firearm dealers in the state for every 1,000 establishments, more than double the national proportion of 18 dealers for every 1,000 businesses and one of the highest proportions in the country. These limited restrictions also likely contribute to the state’s high gun ownership rate. About 57% of the state’s adults owns guns, the third highest such rate of any state.