Special Report

How the Gun Laws in North Carolina Compare To Other States

As the only country in the world whose constitution enshrines the right to keep and bear arms without restrictions, it’s no surprise the United States is absolutely saturated with guns.
The country is a global outlier in private firearm ownership. The U.S. has about 4% of the world’s population but its people possess almost 40% of the world’s civilian-owned guns — nearly 121 for every 100 residents, according to a 2018 report by the Swiss-based Small Arms Survey.

The strict partisan divide over the issue means that many states have very loose gun-ownership rules. And those with stronger restrictions in place can do little to stem the flow of firearms from less-regulated states. One bill currently before the House Judiciary committee, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, would even force states with stricter gun laws to accept concealed carry permits issued in states with less stringent laws.

In 2020, the gun control laws in North Carolina ranked as the 25th strongest in the country, as the laws received a D grade from the Giffords Law Center. North Carolina had 13.1 gun deaths per 100,000 residents in 2020, the 23rd highest rate among all states.

No permit is required to carry an unconcealed firearm in North Carolina. The state has no restrictions on assault weapons, but does require a permit to carry a concealed firearm. Gun owners with concealed-carry permits can enter state parks with their weapons, but county governments are allowed to adopt ordinances limiting concealed firearms in certain places, like playgrounds.

To determine the states with the best and worst gun laws, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 2020 Annual Gun Law Scorecard from the Giffords Law Center, which ranks states on the strength of gun laws and policy and assigns a letter grade.

State 2020 Grade Gun Law Strength Rank Gun Death Rate (per 100k) Gun Death Rate Rank Total gun deaths
Alabama F 14th weakest 22.2 5th highest 1,087
Alaska F 9th weakest 24.5 the highest 179
Arizona F 6th weakest 15.1 16th highest 1,095
Arkansas F 12th weakest 19.3 9th highest 581
California A the strongest 7.2 7th lowest 2,849
Colorado C+ 15th strongest 14.2 18th highest 819
Connecticut A- 3rd strongest 5.3 6th lowest 189
Delaware B 11th strongest 10.0 11th lowest 97
Florida C- 24th strongest 12.7 25th lowest 2,721
Georgia F 19th weakest 15.8 14th highest 1,675
Hawaii A- 4th strongest 4.5 4th lowest 63
Idaho F 3rd weakest 14.2 19th highest 253
Illinois A- 8th strongest 10.8 16th lowest 1,369
Indiana D 24th weakest 14.0 20th highest 943
Iowa C 20th strongest 9.1 9th lowest 287
Kansas F 8th weakest 13.7 21st highest 399
Kentucky F 5th weakest 14.9 17th highest 666
Louisiana F 18th weakest 22.1 6th highest 1,029
Maine F 17th weakest 11.4 17th lowest 154
Maryland A- 6th strongest 12.6 23rd lowest 759
Massachusetts A- 7th strongest 3.4 the lowest 234
Michigan C 21st strongest 12.0 20th lowest 1,202
Minnesota C+ 14th strongest 8.1 8th lowest 458
Mississippi F the weakest 24.2 2nd highest 721
Missouri F 4th weakest 20.5 7th highest 1,259
Montana F 16th weakest 18.9 10th highest 202
Nebraska C 19th strongest 10.2 13th lowest 198
Nevada C+ 16th strongest 15.3 15th highest 471
New Hampshire F 21st weakest 10.5 14th lowest 143
New Jersey A 2nd strongest 4.1 3rd lowest 367
New Mexico C+ 18th strongest 22.3 4th highest 467
New York A- 5th strongest 3.9 2nd lowest 761
North Carolina D 25th strongest 13.1 23rd highest 1,370
North Dakota F 13th weakest 12.6 22nd lowest 96
Ohio D 25th weakest 13.3 22nd highest 1,557
Oklahoma F 11th weakest 18.6 11th highest 735
Oregon C+ 17th strongest 12.5 21st lowest 527
Pennsylvania C+ 13th strongest 11.7 19th lowest 1,491
Rhode Island B+ 9th strongest 4.6 5th lowest 49
South Carolina F 20th weakest 19.8 8th highest 1,019
South Dakota F 7th weakest 13.0 24th highest 115
Tennessee D- 22nd weakest 18.3 12th highest 1,252
Texas F 15th weakest 12.6 24th lowest 3,665
Utah D 23rd weakest 12.8 25th highest 410
Vermont C- 23rd strongest 9.4 10th lowest 58
Virginia B 12th strongest 11.7 19th lowest 994
Washington B+ 10th strongest 10.7 15th lowest 815
West Virginia F 10th weakest 16.6 13th highest 298
Wisconsin C- 22nd strongest 10.0 12th lowest 585
Wyoming F 2nd weakest 22.5 3rd highest 130