Everytown keeps comprehensive surveys of the gun laws in all 50 states. We built the rankings on this site by analyzing the 50 most important policies in detail for each state. We assigned those laws four different values—from the highest point total for the most fundamental laws to the lowest point total for those with a less substantial impact. There are 100 possible points for any state system; California scores highest for 2024 with 89.5 points, while Arkansas scores lowest with 3 points. These are the four levels of importance for the policies included on the site, in descending order:
- Level 1 (up to 6 points): Background check and/or purchase permit, Extreme Risk law, no Shoot First law (also called Stand Your Ground), concealed carry permit required
- Level 2 (up to 3 points): Charleston Loophole closed or limited, secure storage required, high-capacity magazines prohibited, minimum age to purchase, no gun purchases after violent offense, authority to deny gun purchase for public safety, sales records sent to law enforcement, open carry regulated, assault weapons prohibited, gun removal program, violence intervention program funding
- Level 3 (up to 1.5 points): Prohibition for convicted domestic abusers, prohibition for domestic abusers under restraining orders, relinquishment for convicted domestic abusers, relinquishment for domestic abusers under restraining orders, ghost guns regulated, no guns in K–12 schools, no guns mandate on college campuses, local gun laws allowed, school threat assessment teams, fugitive from justice prohibitor, emergency restraining order prohibitor, dealer license required, mental health record reporting, consumer safety, training required to purchase guns, strong concealed carry authority1Our 2022 scoring included credit for states that required “proper cause” in order to carry concealed guns in public. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down this requirement in June 2022 and a state may no longer have such a policy in place. As a result, the scoring parameters regarding strong concealed carry authority have changed slightly for 2023 scoring.
- Level 4 (up to 1 point): Office of Violence Intervention, felony prohibitor, mental health prohibitor, stalker prohibitor, waiting periods, lost and stolen reporting, no carry after violent offense, notification of failed background checks, crime gun tracing, no special immunity for gun industry, guns prohibited at state capitols and/or demonstrations, hate crime prohibitor, no guns in bars, microstamping for new handguns, funding for services for victims of gun violence, police use of deadly force standard, no law enforcement officers bill of rights, qualified immunity limited, police use of force incident data collection and reporting
For some policies, we’ve given states a higher point total for a stronger version of the policy—for example, states earn a higher score if they have not only required background checks on all gun sales, but also required a purchase permit; fully closed the Charleston loophole, rather than merely limiting it; or included gun prohibitions not just for abusive spouses but also for abusive boyfriends and other dating partners.
Everytown has placed these policies into tiers based on our own assessment of their impact. We recognize it can be difficult to compare the effect of different interventions directly; for example, those that address gun access by domestic abusers are simply not comparable to those that seek to require gun manufacturers to install ballistic-fingerprinting tools. Further, researchers can more easily study the population-level impact of some policies, while others are more inherently difficult to measure—for example, those that target the industry. And while some of the laws covered here are difficult to evaluate because they have had a federal analogue in place nationwide for so long—such as the felony prohibitor, which has been law for nearly a century—others, such as consumer product safety rosters, are hard to measure because they are of such recent vintage.
For another visualization of the correlation between gun laws and gun deaths, we built the scatterplot here. It reveals 50 states clustering closely around a line of best fit, showing a tight relationship between gun law inputs and gun violence outcomes. There is a strong
( r = –.68, p < .000), statistically significant relationship between gun laws and the gun death rate in a state: as gun laws increase in a state, gun deaths go down.
The “national leaders” group of states in our analysis has dramatically low death rates relative to the country, while the “national failures” group has strikingly high gun violence. Only a handful of states stand further apart from the norm, likely in large part due to factors we discuss on the site’s homepage—including relative law strength in neighboring and regional states, rates of gun ownership, and recency of gun law enactments or repeals.
Gun laws save lives
Last updated: 2.14.2024
Frequently Asked Questions
How often are the rankings and laws updated?
All gun laws on the site are updated in real time—immediately following a new enactment. Everytown’s formal state rankings are released once annually in January.
Where does all this information come from?
Gun death rates included here are based on provisional 2022 age-adjusted figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, WONDER Online Database. Citations for all gun laws can be found on the relevant policy pages. All state-level gun ownership data is based on the most recent year available (2016) from RAND’s database of household firearm ownership.
Why is Washington, DC, not included in the Everytown Gun Law Rankings?
The relationship between policy and gun violence outcomes in Washington, DC, is complicated by two factors. First, the District of Columbia covers such a small area that it is affected to a uniquely high degree by the laws in neighboring states. Second, it is entirely urban—with a population density more than 100 times higher than the national average—so gun violence in the District is very difficult to compare directly to the 50 states.
I want to share this information, how should I cite it?
The recommended form of citation for this website is Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, “Everytown Gun Law Rankings,” accessed [month day, year], https://everytownresearch.org/rankings/.
How does gun violence impact the communities you care about?
Every year, more than 100,000 Americans are shot and killed or wounded. But what impact does gun violence have on your specific state? EveryStat helps users understand how gun violence impacts the communities they care about. Learn more about the breakdown of gun violence in your state.