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The Top Five States For Firearms Freedom


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Since the Giffords Law Center has their own ranking for “states with the worst gun laws,” which, naturally enough, gives the lowest grades to the states which prize the Second Amendment — and with it, liberty; I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at some of the best states for firearms freedoms.

Obviously this list is going to be subjective, and it’s far from the only one out there. Guns & Ammo has their own rankings, which are pretty solid, and for the most part, track with other score-cards across the industry — a few move around, but the top five or ten are remarkably consistent.

Predictably, there’s not a lot to choose between the various states, so here’s my list of the best parts of “Free America.” (in no particular order)

  1. Arizona– The Grand Canyon State requires no permits to buy long guns, side arms, or ammunition. The state complies with the bare minimum of the NFA, there are no restrictions on magazines, type of weapon (within the confines of the NFA) and there are no restrictions on open or concealed carry for anyone over the age of 21. Permits are available for reciprocity reasons, but are not required.
  2. Kansas– The Sunflower State has no restrictions beyond those required by the NFA, requires no permits to buy long guns, side arms, or ammunition, there are no restrictions on magazines, type of weapon (within the confines of the NFA) and there are no restrictions on open or concealed carry for anyone over the age of 21. Permits are available for reciprocity reasons, but are not required. Kansas has also abolished laws against so-called “switch blades.” All local regulations are preempted by state law, and concealed carry is permitted in most public buildings and on college campuses. Kansas also prevents state and local authorities from enforcing the NFA so long as the NFA item was made in Kansas and has it stamped on the item.
  3. Alaska This (still very much) frontier state requires no permits to buy long guns, side arms, or ammunition. The state complies with the bare minimum of the NFA, there are no restrictions on magazines, type of weapon (within the confines of the NFA) and there are no restrictions on open or concealed carry for anyone over the age of 21. Permits are available for reciprocity reasons, but are not required. Municipalities may enact and enforce local regs only if they are identical to state law — with the same penalties.
  4. Wyoming The Cowboy State has no restrictions beyond those required by the NFA, requires no permits to buy long guns, side arms, or ammunition, there are no restrictions on magazines, type of weapon (within the confines of the NFA) and there are no restrictions on open or concealed carry for anyone over the age of 21. Permits are available for reciprocity reasons, but are not required. Like Kansas, Wyoming also restricts law enforcement from enforcing the NFA so long as the NFA item was made in Wyoming and has it stamped on the item. (In neither of these cases is it recommended someone build a full auto rifle or suppressor. This happened in Kansas and two men were arrested and are now federal felons.)
  5. Vermont A deep blue state in most respects, Vermont has allowed Constitutional Carry for the entirety of its history, the Vermont Constitution of 1777, dating well before the Bill of Rights, states: “That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the State – and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.”  While Vermont has passed a few restrictions — to include a 10 round magazine ban for rifles and 15 for handguns, (which is currently under challenge) and does have a “red flag law,” and “universal” background checks  — suppressors are legal, no one from any state is restricted from open or concealed carry, nor does the state even issue a CCW permit. In fact, any person 16 or older (Federal law requires the age to be 18) and who can legally possess a firearm is allowed to carry openly or concealed. State law preempts local governments from regulating the possession, ownership, transfer, carrying, registration or licensing of firearms.

I include Vermont in this list, despite deep, deep blue politics, because its gun laws (some restrictions aside) are remarkably free and it’s unclear just how much taste there is for enforcing those restrictions. Indeed, Vermont’s red flag law allows but does not require law enforcement or a judge to remove firearms from the scene of a domestic violence incident, or require the removal or surrender upon the issuance of a protection from abuse order. However, the Vermont State Supreme Court also recently upheld a ban on magazines, so things are moving in the wrong direction. I admit, this one may be more of a sentimental choice than anything else.   

So there you have it, five of the most freedom-friendly states in the Union (or maybe 4 1/2). Interestingly Texas was not on this list, for — among other reasons — the fact that the state does require a permit for both open and concealed carry. The good news for gun owners, however, is that the competition for the most free state is getting tougher, especially with the Constitutional Carry revolution heating up in states like Utah, Montana, Indiana, Tennessee, and Alabama.  

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