Special Report

The States With the Loosest Gun Laws

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6. Maryland
> Gun law grade in 2020: A-
> Gun death rate: 12.56 per 100,000 people (23rd lowest)

Maryland requires handgun-purchasing permits, licensing, and registration, as well as a permit for carrying a handgun. It has looser rules for long guns, but it prohibits assault weapons. The Maryland Senate recently overturned Governor Larry’s Hogan’s veto of a bill requiring background checks on rifle and shotgun sales. Neighboring Washington D.C. prohibits the open carrying of handguns, rifles or shotguns.

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7. Massachusetts
> Gun law grade in 2020: A-
> Gun death rate: 3.39 per 100,000 people (the lowest)

In most cases, Massachusetts requires a firearms license or a Firearms Identification (FID) card, in the case of non-large-capacity rifles, shotguns and related ammunition. It has strict rules about how firearms may be stored under penalty of fines that can run into the thousands of dollars. These penalties can apply both at home and in transport.

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8. Illinois
> Gun law grade in 2020: A-
> Gun death rate: 10.80 per 100,000 people (16th lowest)

Illinois requires a FOID, or Firearm Owner Identification Card, to purchase or own a handgun, rifle, or shotgun, but once purchased, the guns don’t have to be registered. Illinois has no statewide assault weapon ban but some local jurisdictions restrict their sale or possession.

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9. Rhode Island
> Gun law grade in 2020: B+
> Gun death rate: 4.59 per 100,000 people (5th lowest)

No purchasing permits, registration, or licenses are required to own a rifle, shotgun, or handgun in Rhode Island, but a safety course is required for handguns. Residents may apply for a handgun open-carry permit. Carrying long guns is generally allowed without a permit.

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10. Washington
> Gun law grade in 2020: B+
> Gun death rate: 10.70 per 100,000 people (15th lowest)

Voters in Washington approved a measure in 2018 that restricts (but doesn’t ban) the sale and possession of semi-automatic rifles. It requires a concealed-carry permit for handguns and, with a few exceptions, specifically prohibits the display or drawing of any firearm with the intent of intimidation.

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