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Gun laws in the United States regulate the sale, possession, and use of firearms and ammunition. State laws vary, and are independent of existing federal firearms laws, although they are sometimes broader or more limited in scope than the federal laws. For instance, some US states have created assault weapon bans that are similar to the expired federal assault weapons ban. State level laws vary significantly in their form, content, and level of restriction. Forty-four states have a provision in their state constitutions similar to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The exceptions are California, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York. In New York, however, the statutory civil rights laws contain a provision virtually identical to the Second Amendment.[1][2] As well, the Supreme Court of the United States has held that the protections of the Second Amendment apply against state governments and their political subdivisions (such as in McDonald v. Chicago).[3]

Firearm owners are subject to the firearm laws of the state they are in, and not exclusively their state of residence. Reciprocity between states exists in certain situations, such as with regard to concealed carry permits. These are recognized on a state-by-state basis. For example, Idaho recognizes an Oregon permit, but Oregon does not recognize an Idaho permit. Florida issues a license to carry both concealed weapons and firearms, but others license only the concealed carry of firearms. Some states do not recognize out-of-state permits to carry a firearm at all, so it is important to understand the laws of each state when traveling with a handgun.[4]

In many cases, state firearms laws can be considerably less restrictive than federal firearms laws. This does not confer any de jure immunity against prosecution for violations of the federal laws. However, state and local police departments are not legally obligated to enforce federal gun law as per the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Printz v. United States.[5][6]

Common subjects of state lawsEdit

Firearm related matters that are often regulated by state or local laws include the following:

  • Some states and localities require that a person obtain a license or permit in order to purchase or possess firearms.
  • Some states and localities require that individual firearms be registered with the police or with another law enforcement agency.
  • All states allow some form of concealed carry, the carrying of a concealed firearm in public.
  • Many states allow some form of open carry, the carrying of an unconcealed firearm in public on one's person or in a vehicle.
  • Some states have state preemption for many or all gun laws, which means that only the state can legally regulate firearms. In other states, local governments can pass their own gun laws more restrictive than those of the state.
  • Some states and localities place additional restrictions on certain semi-automatic firearms that they have defined as "assault weapons", or on magazines that can hold more than a certain number of rounds of ammunition.
  • NFA weapons are weapons that are heavily restricted at a federal level by the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986. These include automatic firearms (such as machine guns), short-barreled shotguns, and short-barreled rifles. Some states and localities place additional restrictions on such weapons.
  • Some states have enacted castle doctrine or "stand your ground" laws, which provide a legal basis for individuals to use deadly force in self-defense in certain situations, without a duty to flee or retreat if possible.
  • In some states, peaceable journey laws give additional leeway for the possession of firearms by travelers who are passing through to another destination.


AlabamaEdit

Gun laws in Alabama

AlaskaEdit

Gun laws in Alaska

ArizonaEdit

Gun laws in Arizona

ArkansasEdit

Gun laws in Arkansas

CaliforniaEdit

Subject/Law Long guns Handguns Relevant Statutes Notes
State Permit to Purchase? No Partial* §26500, §12071, §12082 All firearm sales (except long guns more than 50 years old) must be completed through a dealer. *Handgun purchases require a Handgun Safety Certificate and proof of residency.
Firearm registration? No Yes §12025 and §12031 All handgun serial numbers and sales are recorded by the state (registered) in the Department of Justice’s Automated Firearms System. Long arm serial numbers are not recorded, only the sale. While there is no requirement for California residents to register previously owned handguns or firearms with law enforcement, §12025 and §12031 enhance several misdemeanor offenses to felonies if the handgun is not on file in the Department of Justice’s Automated Firearms System. California §12025 states that handguns must be transported unloaded and in a locked container other than the glove compartment or utility box in a motor vehicle. A "locked container" is further defined to mean "a secure container which is fully enclosed and locked by a padlock, key lock, combination lock, or similar locking device." New residents must register handguns (purchased outside of California) with DOJ within 60 days.
Owner license required? No No None
"Assault weapon" law? Yes Yes §12280, §12285 Illegal to possess, import, or purchase assault weapons and .50 BMG rifles, unless such weapons were acquired by the owner prior to June 1, 1989. Legally defined assault weapons and .50 BMG rifles listed by make and model by the DOJ must be registered. Their sale and transfer is prohibited. Military look-alike rifles that are not chambered for .50 BMG and are not on the DOJ roster are legal to purchase or possess, with some restrictions in configuration – known as "banned features." Active-duty military members residing out of state and assigned to duty in California may bring personally-owned assault weapons into the state. The military member's residence must be in a state that permits private citizens to own and possess assault weapons, and the firearms must be registered with the California Department of Justice prior to the servicemember's arrival in California by submitting the registration form with a copy of the member's Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders.
Magazine Capacity Restriction? Yes Yes §12020 It is unlawful for any person to manufacture, cause to be manufactured, keep for sale, or offer or expose for sale, or give or lend, any large-capacity magazine. A large capacity magazine means any ammunition feeding device with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds, but shall not be construed to include a feeding device that has been permanently altered so that it cannot accommodate more than 10 rounds, a tubular magazine that is contained in a lever-action firearm, or a .22 caliber tube ammunition feeding device. However, the possession of large capacity magazines purchased outside CA (and not imported by means of interstate commerce), is legal except in the city and county of Los Angeles.
Carry permits issued? Yes Yes §12050 May issue, depending on jurisdiction. County sheriff's or local Police Chief's discretion, many counties are de facto "no-issue," while others are "shall-issue" in practice. CCW permits valid statewide. Out-of-state permits not valid in California.
Open Carry? Partial* Partial* §26350 *Long guns may be carried in unincorporated rural areas where open carry is permitted by local ordinance. In a county with a population of less than 200,000 residents, a permit to carry a handgun "loaded and exposed" may be issued by the county sheriff.
State Preemption of local restrictions? Yes Yes §53701 GC Most but not all local restrictions preempted.
Castle Doctrine Law? Yes Yes California never requires a duty to retreat whether in your own home or not. The state acknowledges a legal presumption that an intruder poses a deadly threat if in your own home or property that is owned and controlled by yourself.
NFA weapons restricted? Yes Yes §12220, §12020, §12020 Possession of automatic weapons or short-barreled shotguns or rifles prohibited without DOJ "Dangerous Weapons Permit"; permission rarely granted outside of film industry. Suppressors (aka silencers) prohibited. Destructive devices are prohibited unless are designated as curios & relics, in which case a collectors permit can be obtained. The only AOW's that are permitted are smoothbore pistols and firearms with a combination of a smoothbore and rifle barrel.
Peaceable Journey laws? No No None Federal rules observed.

ColoradoEdit

Gun laws in Colorado

ConnecticutEdit

Subject/Law Long guns Handguns Relevant statutes Notes
State Permit to Purchase? Yes Yes CGS 29–36(f),
CGS 29–36(g)
Certificate of Eligibility for Pistol and Revolvers or Long Guns or Ammunition required to purchase handguns, long guns or ammunition, respectively. Applicants must complete an approved safety course, and pass a NICS background check prior to issuance of certificate. Certificate of Eligibility valid for five years. There is a 14-day waiting period for the purchase of long guns, with exceptions for peace officers, Active-Duty military members, and holders of carry permits. With the passing of Public Act 13-3, hunting licenses may no longer be used to purchase ammunition or long rifles.
Firearm registration? Yes Yes

CGS 53–202 || Registration required for assault weapons purchased before October 1, 1993 and for machine guns. There is a de facto registry of the sale of handguns and long guns that is maintained by the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP). Any transfer, be it from a dealer or private party, must be accompanied by an authorization number issued by the DESPP and a form containing personal and weapon identification (DPS-3-C) must be submitted to DESPP and local police. This form is collected and maintained on all guns purchased from FFL dealers as well.

"Assault weapon" law? Yes Yes CGS 53–202 Selective fire weapons, some .50 BMG variants, and semiautomatic center-fire firearms with one defined feature; banned weapons lawfully possessed prior to this date must be registered with DESPP. Registered weapons may only be sold or transferred to a licensed gun dealer, to the State Police or local police department or transferred to a recipient outside of Connecticut. Exceptions exist for active and retired law enforcement and military members.
Magazine Capacity Restriction? Yes Yes As of April 4, 2013, magazines holding more than 10 rounds are considered Large Capacity Magazines (LCM), and such magazines manufactured after that date may not be sold or transferred within the state. Existing owners of LCMs may possess such magazines if they declare them with the DESPP before January 1, 2014. Owners of registered LCMs may not load such magazines with more than 10 rounds except when inside the owner's home or on the premises of a licensed shooting range. Even if an individual has a permit to carry a pistol or revolver, they can never carry, other than at a shooting range, a pistol that has an LCM loaded with more than 10 bullets.
Owner license required? No No
Carry permits issued? No Yes CGS 29–28 May-Issue by statute, but Shall-Issue according to court precedence and in practice. Permit needed to carry open or concealed. Exceptions for peace officers and Active-Duty military members. Out of state permits not valid in Connecticut, but nonresidents may apply for a Connecticut Nonresident carry permit through the mail.
Open Carry? Partial* Yes A Connecticut Permit to Carry Pistols or Revolvers allows the carry of handguns openly or concealed. Despite this, local law enforcement have been known[citation needed] to detain carriers. There have been very few actual arrests and no convictions in recent history as a result of carrying unconcealed. State law is silent on the open carry of long guns in public either with or without a permit, although some municipalities have enacted ordinances restricting or banning the practice.

Various towns and the state police as well have articulated through training memos that open carry is legal and to not harass people who carry openly without some other cause.[7]

Castle Doctrine? Yes* Yes* No duty to retreat if you are in your home or on property owned by yourself. *There is no "stand your ground law" but, courts have granted civil immunity to those with carry permits and used "reasonable force" in the past.
State Preemption of local restrictions? Partial Partial CGS 29–28 State pre-emption of local ordinances not explicitly specified in state law, but established by court precedence. Most municipalities have ordinances restricting or banning the discharge of firearms.
NFA weapons restricted? Yes Yes CGS 53–202(c) SBR, SBS, DD, suppressors are legal, provided they also comply with the assault weapons provisions, unless purchased before October 1, 1993. Machine guns are legal but, must not be select-fire unless purchased before October 1, 1993.
Peaceable Journey laws? No No CGS 29–38 Federal rules observed.

DelawareEdit

Subject/Law Long guns Handguns Relevant statutes Notes
State Permit to Purchase? No No
Firearm registration? No No
"Assault weapon" law? No No
Magazine Capacity Restriction? No No
Owner license required? No No
Carry permits issued? Yes Yes 11 Del.C. § 1441 Delaware is a "may issue" state for concealed carry, but mostly shall-issue in practice. Permits are generally issued to all applicants not barred from owning a firearm.
Open Carry? Yes Yes Open carry is generally permitted. Local prohibitions in effect before July 4, 1985 are not preempted. City of Dover requires a permit from police chief or a state concealed permit to open carry. This was not preempted and is the only known non-preempted carry law.
State Preemption of local restrictions? Yes* Yes* Complete preemption, except any local ordinances that were in effect before July 4, 1985 are still in effect and are not preempted.
NFA weapons restricted? Yes Yes Civilian ownership for research purposes only.
Peaceable Journey laws? No No Federal rules observed.

District of ColumbiaEdit

Gun laws in the District of Columbia

FloridaEdit

Gun laws in Florida

GeorgiaEdit

Gun laws in Georgia

HawaiiEdit

Gun laws in Hawaii

IdahoEdit

Gun laws in Idaho

IllinoisEdit

Subject/Law Long Guns Handguns Relevant Statutes Notes
State permit to purchase? Yes Yes 430 ILCS 65 FOID required.
Owner license required? Yes Yes 430 ILCS 65 FOID required.
Firearm registration? No No
Carry permits issued? No Yes Public Act 098-0063: Firearm Concealed Carry Act Illinois enacted concealed carry on July 9, 2013. The State Police will begin accepting permit applications within 180 days of that date. Permits issued by other states will not be recognized, but nonresidents can apply for an Illinois nonresident CCW permit. Non-residents may carry in a vehicle if they are in possession of a permit from their home state.
Open carry? No No
State preemption of local restrictions? Partial Partial Public Act 098-0063: Firearm Concealed Carry Act Preemption for the regulation of handguns, and for the transportation of firearms. Preemption for laws regulating "assault weapons", unless enacted before July 20, 2013.
"Assault weapon" law? No No Cook Co. Code of Ord. §54-211
Chi. Mun. Code §8-20-170
Cook County and the city of Chicago have separately banned the possession of "assault weapons", as have several Chicago suburbs.
Magazine capacity restriction? No No Some local governments have magazine capacity limits for both pistols and long guns, including Chicago (12 rounds), Oak Park (10 rounds), Aurora (15 rounds), and Cook County (10 rounds).
NFA weapons restricted? Yes Yes 720 ILCS 5/24
720 ILCS 5/24-2
Automatic firearms, short-barreled shotguns, and silencers prohibited. Short-barreled rifles allowed only for Curios and Relics license holders or members of a bona fide military reenactment group. AOW (Any Other Weapon) and large-bore DD (Destructive Device) allowed with proper approval and tax stamp from ATF.
Peaceable journey laws? Yes Yes Public Act 098-0063: Firearm Concealed Carry Act Illinois has state preemption for the transportation of any firearm and ammunition. Non-Illinois residents are granted a limited exception to lawfully carry a concealed firearm within a vehicle if they are eligible to carry a firearm in public under the laws of their own state. Non-residents who are permitted to possess a firearm in their own state are not required to have a FOID card.

IndianaEdit

Gun laws in Indiana

IowaEdit

Gun laws in Iowa

KansasEdit

Gun laws in Kansas

KentuckyEdit

Gun laws in Kentucky

LouisianaEdit

Gun laws in Louisiana

MaineEdit

Gun laws in Maine

MarylandEdit

Subject/Law Long Guns Handguns Relevant Statutes Notes
Permit to purchase required? No Yes Md Public Safety Article Section 5-117.1[8] A Handgun Qualification License is required, unless exempted (Active Duty/Retired Military with identification cards, Active/Retired Law Enforcement with department credentials); training is required, unless exempted; fingerprints are required; background checks are required; does not invalidate the requirement to perform an comprehensive background check for every handgun purchase transaction.[8]
Firearm registration? No Yes The state police maintain a permanent record of all handgun transfers.
Owner license required? No No
Carry permits issued? No Yes Maryland is a "may issue" state for concealed carry. Applicants must demonstrate a "good and substantial reason" to carry a handgun. Permits are normally very difficult to obtain.
Open carry permitted? No Yes Open carry is technically permitted with a concealed carry license, but is not generally practiced.
State preemption of local restrictions? Yes Yes Maryland has state preemption for most but not all firearm laws.
"Assault weapon" law? No* Yes Md Criminal Law Article Section 4-303 *.50 BMG caliber rifles and certain other models are are considered "regulated firearms". There is also a ban on "assault pistols". Beginning October 1, it will be illegal to possess either an "assault long gun" or a "copycat weapon" with more than one banned feature (folding stock, grenade/flare launcher, flash suppressor) unless registered before date of enactment.[8]
Magazine Capacity Restriction? Yes Yes Illegal to purchase, sell or manufacture magazines with a capacity of greater than 20 rounds within Maryland. However, possession of magazines greater than 20 rounds is legal. These may not, however, be transferred to a subsequent owner. Starting October 1, 2013 the magazine size restriction will be 10 rounds.
NFA weapons restricted? No* No* *Automatic firearms must be registered with the state police and short barreled rifles and shotguns must be owned in compliance with federal law.

MassachusettsEdit

Subject/Law Long Guns Handguns Relevant Statutes Notes
Permit to purchase required? Yes Yes Firearm Identification (FID) or license to carry required.
Firearm registration? No* No* Registration is not specifically required by law, however transfers of firearm ownership are required to be recorded with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) by the seller if in state or by the buyer if out of state. The Massachusetts EOPSS provides the option to register a firearm as well, although other than obtaining a firearm from out of state (a transfer of ownership), this is not required by law.
Owner license required? Yes Yes Firearm Identification (FID) or license to carry required.
Carry permits issued? No Yes MA Ch. 140 Sec. 131 Massachusetts is a "may issue" state for concealed carry; the issuing authority is the local police chief for most jurisdictions. There are several different types of concealed carry licenses. CCW issuance varies within the state. Counties closer to large cities (like Boston) are de facto no-issue, whereas more rural (and some suburban) counties have shall/reasonable issuance policies[citation needed]. Restrictions can be put on any type of permit however, such as only while target shooting and hunting. Permits are valid state wide as long as you are carrying in the manner you are allowed to.
Open carry permitted? No Yes* *Open carry is legal in some rural areas but only with a concealed carry license.[citation needed]
State preemption of local restrictions? No No There is limited preemption for some laws.
"Assault weapon" law? Yes Yes A two point "banned features" system is what defines an "assault weapon". These "assault weapons" are prohibited unless lawfully owned on or prior to September 13, 1994. Firearms that do not have two or more "banned features" are legal to purchase with an LTC-A, LTC-B or in some cases a standard FID so long as magazine restrictions are followed to what your license allows.
Magazine Capacity Restriction? Yes Yes Illegal to possess magazines of over 10 rounds capacity unless manufactured prior to 09/13/1994, and one has a LTC-A . Does not apply to tubular magazines.
NFA weapons restricted? Yes Yes The possession of automatic firearms is only allowed with a permit, which is rarely granted[citation needed]. Silencers are restricted only for law enforcement. Some destructive devices are banned at the state level, while others are banned at a local level. DD's can be completely illegal or legal depending on what county you live in. SBR's, SBS's, and AOW's are allowed with proper approval from the ATF, provided they comply with the current assault weapon law and local restrictions.

MichiganEdit

Gun laws in Michigan

MinnesotaEdit

Gun laws in Minnesota

MississippiEdit

Gun laws in Mississippi

MissouriEdit

Gun laws in Missouri

MontanaEdit

Gun laws in Montana

NebraskaEdit

Gun laws in Nebraska

NevadaEdit

Gun laws in Nevada

New HampshireEdit

Gun laws in New Hampshire

New JerseyEdit

Gun laws in New Jersey

New MexicoEdit

Gun laws in New Mexico

New YorkEdit

Gun laws in New York

North CarolinaEdit

Subject/Law Long Guns Handguns Relevant Statutes Notes
Permit to purchase required? No Yes For handguns, a permit to purchase or a concealed handgun permit is required.
Firearm registration? No No* *Durham county requires registration of handguns. The county sheriff must keep a record of handgun purchase permits.
Owner license required? No No
Carry permits issued? No Yes North Carolina is a "shall issue" state for concealed carry.
Open carry permitted? Yes Yes Open carry is generally permitted, but may be limited by local governments.
State preemption of local restrictions? Yes Yes North Carolina has state preemption for most but not all firearm laws. Durham county's registration requirement is grandfathered in.
"Assault weapon" law? No No
NFA weapons restricted? Yes Yes A permit to possess an automatic firearm may be issued at the discretion of the county sheriff. All other NFA weapons and silencers/suppressors are allowed, as long as federal rules are followed

North DakotaEdit

Gun laws in North Dakota

OhioEdit

Gun laws in Ohio

OklahomaEdit

Gun laws in Oklahoma

OregonEdit

Gun laws in Oregon

PennsylvaniaEdit

Subject/Law Long guns Handguns Relevant statutes Notes
Constitutional Right to Bear Arms Yes The right of the citizens to bear arms in defence of themselves and the State shall not be questioned. Art. 1, § 21 (enacted 1790, art. IX, § 21).
State permit to purchase? No No
Firearm registration? No No
"Assault weapon" law? No No
Owner license required? No No
Carry permits issued? Yes Yes 18 Pa.C.S. § 6109 License to Carry Firearms issued on a "shall-issue" basis.
Open carry? Yes Yes Unlicensed open-carry everywhere except Philadelphia or in/on a vehicle.
Castle Law/Stand Your Ground? Yes Yes [1] Castle Law. No duty to retreat inside castle. No duty to retreat outside castle if confronted with a deadly weapon.
State preemption of local restrictions? Yes Yes 18 Pa.C.S. § 6120
NFA weapons restricted? No No
Peaceable Journey laws? Yes Yes

Rhode IslandEdit

Gun laws in Rhode Island

South CarolinaEdit

Gun laws in South Carolina

South DakotaEdit

Gun laws in South Dakota

TennesseeEdit

Gun laws in Tennessee

TexasEdit

Gun laws in Texas

UtahEdit

Gun laws in Utah

VermontEdit

Gun laws in Vermont

VirginiaEdit

Subject/Law Long Guns Handguns Relevant Statutes Notes
Permit to purchase required? No No
Firearm registration? No* No* *Automatic firearms are required to be registered with the state police.
Owner license required? No* No* *Proof of age and citizenship required for the purchase of "assault weapons".
Carry permits issued? No Yes § 18.2-308 Virginia is a "shall issue" state for concealed carry.
Open carry permitted? Yes Yes § 18.2-287.4. & § 18.2-282. Open carry is permitted with the exception of "assault weapons" and shotguns with a 7+ round magazine in the cities of Alexandria, Chesapeake, Fairfax, Falls Church, Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, and Virginia Beach and in the Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Henrico, Loudoun, or Prince William. These restrictions do not apply to valid concealed carry permit holders. For open carry in a vehicle, the firearm must be clearly visible.
State preemption of local restrictions? Yes Yes § 15.2-915 Virginia has state preemption for most but not all firearm laws.
"Assault weapon" law? No* No* *Proof of age (18+ for long arms, 21+ for pistols) and proof of citizenship (or permanent residence license) are required for the purchase of "assault weapons". "Assault weapons" are defined as a semi-automatic, centerfire, firearm equipped with a folding/adjustable stock, or equipped at the time with a magazine capable of holding 20+ rounds, or capable of accommodating a silencer/suppressor.[9]
Magazine restriction? No* No* *Magazines capable of holding 20+ rounds are legal but, they make the firearm an "assault weapon", subject to law accordingly.
NFA weapons restricted? Yes Yes Automatic firearms must be registered with the state police. Plastic firearms and SOME destructive devices (such as the striker 12 shotgun) are prohibited outside law enforcement. SBS, SBR, AOW's, and silencers are legal with NFA paperwork.

WashingtonEdit

Gun laws in Washington

West VirginiaEdit

Gun laws in West Virginia

WisconsinEdit

Gun laws in Wisconsin

WyomingEdit

Gun laws in Wyoming

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

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