FTA: It’s hard to improve upon Arizona’s gun laws but they seem to make an effort every year. In 2017, Governor Ducey signed legislation into law preventing local governments from enacting background check requirements for gun ownership. Arizona maxes-out in every category thanks to its permitless (and permitted) carry, very strong self-defense laws, hands-off NFA and Black Gun policies and an overall hassle-free landscape for gun owners. The Phoenix area likely has the most active competitive shooting cultures in the nation and there are countless places to shoot in the deserts if you’re the kind that likes to take long shots. The hunting opportunities are some of the best in the country, though tags can be a challenge to draw, so if you’re a sportsman as well as a gun owner you’re in luck. The gap between Arizona and other states in the top-10 has certainly narrowed in the past few years but we have no justification for taking the winning slot away from reigning champion.
Over the past five years, we at Guns and Ammo have done our best to aggregate and analyze the gun laws of all fifty states and the District of Columbia.
During this short window of time, we have watched the efforts of pro-gun groups in the states unfold into an increasingly-positive statutory landscape for gun owners. With the exception of a handful of states in the Northeast and on the West Coast, things are getting better rather than worse when it comes to state gun laws in the U.S.
Not everyone agrees with our rankings and, due to the complexity of these issues, it is impossible to rank the states with absolute precision in an article of this size— a line-by-line study of the gun laws of every state would fill many volumes of this magazine and would put you quickly to sleep. Whether or not you agree with our methodology, rest assured that we do our very best to approach this effort objectively and without bias. We have used the same basic ranking system for all previous editions of “Best States for Gun Owners” and have maintained it in our 2017 survey as it continues to be the best and most equitable method we can envision. As states become increasingly pro-gun, the ranking process has become more and more difficult which is a good problem to have.
As in years-past, each state has been ranked numerically in each of five categories: Right-To-Carry (RTC), access to “Black Rifles” (i.e., firearms possessing a tactical appearance), the presence and strength of a Castle Doctrine law, subjects relating to the National Firearms Act (NFA) and a catchall Miscellaneous column. The sum of these categories represents the state’s score; the higher the score, the better.
by Keith Wood