Gun Ownership by State

While the right to own a firearm dates back to the founding of the United States, the rates of gun ownership vary greatly from state to state. When looking at the country as a whole, it is estimated that one out of every three citizens owns some type of firearm.

While the right to own a firearm dates back to the founding of the United States, the rates of gun ownership vary greatly from state to state. When looking at the country as a whole, it is estimated that one out of every three citizens owns some type of firearm. But in Delaware only 5.2% of the population owns a gun, while 61.7% of Alaskans are gun owners.

States with the Lowest Gun Ownership

On average, states in the Northeast have the lowest percentage of citizens that own firearms. Delaware comes in at the lowest with only 5.2% of the population owning guns, followed by Rhode Island at 5.8%, New York at 10.3%, New Jersey at 11.3% and New Hampshire at 14.4%. On the West Coast, the average percentage of residents owning guns in California is only 20.1%, which is substantially lower than the neighboring states of Nevada (37.5%) and Arizona (32.3%).

States with the Highest Gun Ownership

Alaska leads the nation in the percentage citizens who are gun owners at 61.7%. It is followed by Arkansas at 57.9%, Idaho at 56.9%, West Virginia at 54.2%, and Wyoming at 53.8%.

Social Gun Culture Influences Gun Ownership

It is no surprise that in states where owning a gun, whether it is a handgun for protection or a long gun for hunting, results in higher rates of gun ownership. In many states with a high percentage of gun ownership, being a gun owner is part of the culture and families own firearms generation after generation because that is something that is a tradition and a way of life in many states. In many states that have a high percentage of gun ownership, firearms are often used for hunting just as much as they are for protection.

According to a recent study, citizens in a state with a deeply rooted gun culture answered yes to the following questions:

  • Will your family think less of you if you don’t own a firearm?
  • Will your social circle think less of you if you don’t own a firearm?
  • Do social activities with your family throughout the year involve a gun?
  • Do social activities with your friends throughout the year involve a gun?

Gun Ownership and Politics

The topic of gun control and gun laws is very heated in this day and age; most states that have higher rates of gun ownership have a large percentage of citizens that are conservative and tend to favor the Republican Party. Likewise, in many states with lower rates of gun ownership a large percentage, if not the majority, believe in more liberal ideas and usually identify with the Democratic Party. The issue of gun ownership, particularly hand guns, is currently a hot button issue right now, but there is little evidence to show that states with high rates of gun ownership have any intention of changing gun laws or prohibiting non-felons of a legal age from purchasing a firearm.

How Gun Laws Affect Ownership

Some of the states with the lowest percentage of gun ownership have the strictest gun laws. For example, in New York a license is required to buy a handgun, all handguns must be registered, and anyone who wants to own a hand gun must get also get an owner’s license. While long guns are permitted throughout of most of New York state, obtaining a concealed carry license for a handgun is incredibly difficult, especially in NYC and other large cities in New York.

As the state with the highest percentage of gun owners, Alaska is in direct contrast to New York state. There are no laws requiring a person to have a permit to purchase a gun, nor are there any laws in regards to a person needing to register a firearm or acquire an owner’s license. Openly carrying a long gun or hand gun is allowed in Alaska, and concealed carry licenses are available but not strictly enforced.

Culture and laws play a big part in how many people own a gun in the U.S. state by state. Despite the current controversy about gun control, it does not appear that many Americans will give up their right to own a firearm in the near future.