Special Report

States With the Best and Worst Gun Laws

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1. California
> Gun law grade in 2020: A
> Gun death rate: 7.21 per 100,000 people (7th lowest)

California has some of the most stringent gun-control laws in the country, requiring sellers’ licenses, gun-safety permits, and gun registration. Gun owners generally are prohibited from concealing or openly carrying a gun in public. A recent state ban on magazines that hold more than 10 bullets has been challenged in federal court.

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2. New Jersey
> Gun law grade in 2020: A
> Gun death rate: 4.13 per 100,000 people (3rd lowest)

New Jersey shares the highest gun-law grade with California. Purchasers must apply for a license for each gun they buy, and local law enforcement determines on a case by case basis if a gun owner may obtain an open-carry or concealed-carry permit. (In states with looser gun laws, a gun permit is guaranteed if the applicant fulfills all the application requirements.) Assault weapons, like most semiautomatic shotguns and rifles, require a special license. High-capacity magazines and undetectable guns are banned.

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3. Connecticut
> Gun law grade in 2020: A-
> Gun death rate: 5.30 per 100,000 people (6th lowest)

In the wake of the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown in 2012, the state tightened the screws on the ownership of assault weapons, requiring special certification and registration. Connecticut gun owners are required to have a permit, including a separate eligibility certificate for rifles and shotguns, and gun sellers must apply for authorization for each transaction.

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4. Hawaii
> Gun law grade in 2020: A-
> Gun death rate: 4.46 per 100,000 people (4th lowest)

Hawaiians are required to obtain a gun-purchase permit and to register their firearms. They can also apply for open/concealed-carry permits for handguns. Long-gun permits are available for sporting or licensed hunting purposes.

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5. New York
> Gun law grade in 2020: A-
> Gun death rate: 3.91 per 100,000 people (2nd lowest)

New York is among several states with strict rules about carrying any loaded firearm outside of the home or business without a permit, including a “proper cause” provision for concealed-carry permits that require proof of a special need for self-protection. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up a case challenging this rule later this year.