Gun laws can vary wildly from state to state. Depending on where you live, you might either be frustrated with your state’s iron-clad gun laws, or praising your lawmakers for standing up for your rights. Did your state make this list? We have ranked what is, in our opinion, the top 11 states in the country for gun owners. Our determinations are based primarily on the state’s gun laws, whether they have any restrictions placed on modern sporting rifles like the AR-15, the amount of states that recognize carry permits issued in that state, and other details. Also, “no-net loss” laws (which protect hunting land) and laws protecting the privacy of gun owners are also considered.

The states on this list do not require a permit to purchase, do not license gun owners, do not have a state-level firearm registry, and do not require a permit to carry long guns. Some states do require a permit to carry concealed handguns. With the exception of Florida, all listed states also allow open carry of handguns. Included with each entry is an excerpt from or related to the state constitution. Information is provided by the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.

Without further fuss, here are our top 11 gun states in loosely ranked order.

11. Vermont

“That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence 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.”

  • Permit to carry: no
  • Castle Doctrine: no law
  • No-Net Loss: no legislation
  • Right to carry confidentiality: no provisions
  • Right to carry in restaurants: legal
  • Right to carry reciprocity and recognition: outright recognition

10. Montana

“The right of any person to keep or bear arms in defense of his own home, person, and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called in question, but nothing herein contained shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons.”

  • Permit to carry: Conditional
  • Castle Doctrine: enacted
  • No-Net Loss: no legislation
  • Right to carry confidentiality: provisions enacted
  • Right to carry in restaurants: partial ban
  • Right to carry reciprocity and recognition: conditional

9. Florida

“The legislature of the State of Florida, in a declaration of policy incorporated in its “Weapons and Firearms” statute, recognizes that adult citizens of the state retain their constitutional right to keep and bear firearms for hunting and sporting activities and for defense of self, family, home, and business and as collectibles.”

  • Permit to carry: yes
  • Castle Doctrine: enacted
  • No-Net Loss: enacted
  • Right to carry confidentiality: provisions enacted
  • Right to carry in restaurants: partial ban
  • Right to carry reciprocity and recognition: true reciprocity

8. Wyoming

“The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be denied.”

  • Permit to carry: no
  • Castle Doctrine: enacted
  • No-Net Loss: no legislation
  • Right to carry confidentiality: provisions enacted
  • Right to carry in restaurants: partial ban
  • Right to carry reciprocity and recognition: conditional

7. Georgia

“The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but the General Assembly shall have power to prescribe the manner in which arms may be borne.”

  • Permit to carry: yes
  • Castle Doctrine: enacted
  • No-Net Loss: enacted
  • Right to carry confidentiality: provisions enacted
  • Right to carry in restaurants: partial ban
  • Right to carry reciprocity and recognition: true reciprocity

6. Oklahoma

“The right of a citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power, when thereunto legally summoned, shall never be prohibited, but nothing herein contained shall prevent the legislature from regulating the carrying of weapons.”

  • Permit to carry: yes
  • Castle Doctrine: enacted
  • No-Net Loss: no legislation
  • Right to carry confidentiality: provisions enacted
  • Right to carry in restaurants: partial ban
  • Right to carry reciprocity and recognition: outright recognition

5. Kentucky

“All men are by nature, free and equal, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned: … 7) the right to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the state, subject to the power of the general assembly to enact laws to prevent persons from carrying concealed weapons.”

  • Permit to carry: yes
  • Castle Doctrine: enacted
  • No-Net Loss: enacted
  • Right to carry confidentiality: provisions enacted
  • Right to carry in restaurants: partial ban
  • Right to carry reciprocity and recognition: outright recognition

4. Kansas

“The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and : security; but standing armies in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be tolerated, and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.”

  • Permit to carry: yes
  • Castle Doctrine: enacted
  • No-Net Loss: no legislation
  • Right to carry confidentiality: provisions enacted
  • Right to carry in restaurants: partial ban
  • Right to carry reciprocity and recognition: outright recognition

3. Utah

“The individual right of the people to keep and bear arms for security and defense of self, family, others, property, or the State as well as for other lawful purposes shall not be infringed; but nothing herein shall prevent the legislature from defining the lawful use of arms.”

  • Permit to carry: no
  • Castle Doctrine: enacted
  • No-Net Loss: no legislation
  • Right to carry confidentiality: provisions enacted
  • Right to carry in restaurants: legal
  • Right to carry reciprocity and recognition: outright recognition

2. Arizona

“The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the State shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain, or employ an armed body of men.”

  • Permit to carry: no
  • Castle Doctrine: enacted
  • No-Net Loss: no legislation
  • Right to carry confidentiality: provisions enacted
  • Right to carry in restaurants: legal
  • Right to carry reciprocity and recognition: outright recognition

1. Alaska

“A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The individual right to keep and bear arms shall not be denied or infringed by the state or political subdivision of the State.”

  • Permit to carry: no
  • Castle Doctrine: enacted
  • No-Net Loss: no legislation
  • Right to carry confidentiality: provisions enacted
  • Right to carry in restaurants: partial ban
  • Right to carry reciprocity and recognition: outright recognition

Edit 6-1-2015: Fixed typo in the entry for Arizona. The Grand Canyon State is commonly recognized as a Constitutional Carry state and does not require a permit to carry a concealed handgun or to carry openly. A permit however, can be obtained for reciprocity in other states. One of the reasons Arizona ranked so highly on this list is due to that fact. 

Image from Ibro Palic on the flickr Creative Commons

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  • Where did Indiana rank?

  • AZDave

    Arizona is constitutional carry. No permit needed if legal to own a firearm. However, if entering a business that serves liquor you must have a carry permit and cannot consume.

    • Mike

      Doesn’t look like they did their homework, does it?

    • Mike

      Is Arizona a true Constitutional Carry state or are there restrictions on how and where you may carry?

      • Wuz nt Me

        Can’t carry in federal buildings, of course. Haven’t been anywhere else I can’t carry.
        People really only get the permit for reciprocity in other states.

      • Mike

        by doing a simple search, I found several locations where it is illegal to carry in Arizona. You may be able to carry without a license, but calling it Constitutional carry is a stretch.

      • Wuz nt Me

        OK, besides private property and federal property, where?
        and if you’re going to list places like schools, they better not be federally funded schools.
        I’m not saying it fits everyone’s definition of constitutional carry, at the least it fits ‘Better than everyone else’s Constitutional Carry’, lol. Then throw in all the other gun-owner-friendly factors and we are No. 1 any way you look at it.

      • Mike

        I wouldn’t rate a state no.1 where cities and counties are allowed to ban firearms.

      • Wuz nt Me

        This is like pulling teeth… what cities and counties? I have worked deliveries all over AZ and the only time I have ever had to disarm was entering a prison and an IRS building. And I get very nervous crossing the reservations but, that’s not our country….
        I would rate a state by state laws but you do what you want. I’m anxiously awaiting these cities and counties that ban firearms…….

      • Mike

        I am only stating what is allowed by law. I don’t live there nor do I visit there. Only saying it is not a true Constitutional Carry State, none are.

      • Wuz nt Me

        I don’t dispute that.
        But, you state that it’s not No. 1 because it’s not a true constitutional carry state. Yet, if none are, then how does that knock it down from No. 1?
        You mentioned a “simple search” yielded counties and cities that ban firearms. Which ones? Or are you just saying that they can ban them?
        Besides permitless open and concealed carry, castle doctrine, etc etc. We also have a very strong gun culture with a big emphasis on competition and hunting. I and G&A magazine think that puts us ahead of Alaska and everywhere else too.
        So, who’s your pick for #1?
        Also, we’re not sitting on our hands, content with what we have. We are constantly advancing 2nd Amendment rights every day just as many other states are. Check out AZCDL for details.

      • Mike

        Alaska is my pick for no 1 Vermont 2 Arizona ranks high at 3 or 4. Remember, this is my opinion only. I didn’t say that Arizona wasn’t #1 because it wasn’t a true Constitutional Carry state, I said that I wouldn’t rate it because of the ability for cities and counties to ban guns, I don’t know of any that do, but the fact is , they can.

        I am from Georgia, we have a very strong gun culture here and the best grass roots orginization in the country, GeorgiaCarry.Org.

        i would rate us no lower than 4.

      • Wuz nt Me

        Ouch, 3 or 4?
        Have you been to Alaska? Nice place to visit, but….
        Just kidding. Sort of. I have been to Alaska and it’s ridiculously pretty, but I couldn’t live in weather like that.
        I’ve only passed through Georgia a few times. I only remember wanting to get away from Atlanta as fast as possible. In my job, I didn’t get to stop and enjoy places.

      • Erik B

        AK is the ONLY state that Might be able to argue as being better than VT for gun laws. Maybe.

      • Clearanceman2 .

        Vermont is.

      • Mike

        Are you saying that Vermont has nor restrictions on where you can carry?

      • Clearanceman2 .

        Vermont is the only state that has never required a permit to carry concealed and there are only three places you can’t carry.

      • Mike

        I agree Vermont may have some of the fewest restrictions, and probably comes the closest to Constitutional carry. I am not faulting any states on this list, they are all gun friendly states. My complaint is that if people continue tor refer to state requiring no permit or license as “Constitutional Carry”, the true meaning of our 2nd Amendment is diluted. There are too many on the anti side trying to change it’s meaning, let’s not help them by accepting a less than true meaning.

      • Erik B

        None beyond Federal law.

      • Clearanceman2 .

        Only three places you can’t carry.

      • Mark

        Ks will have constitutional carry july 1st no city or county can ban oly federal buildings or private property can ban

      • gene

        I spent 25 years in Mich, 30 years in nightmare Calif, 6 years in Alaska and now live in Arizona. In Arizona you can not carry in a bank which makes no sense, if the bank is being robbed it seems that armed customers would be a great deterant. Calif is a joke as all of there gun laws are a complete violation of the Second Ammendment. I rarely go into Calif but have 3 children and 3 grand children living there. You need to carry in Alaska, not because of the people but because of the critters that will kill you. Moose are actually worse then the Bears but you also have Wolves that when hungry will attack anything. If everyone in the country carried we would have much much lower crime rate !!!!!!!!

  • Mike

    Apparently you didn’t check MO. It would be above some of the states on the list.

  • Mike

    Please explain the “partial ban” on restaurants in Georgia. I carry in restaurants all the time and am not aware of any partial bans. Please cite OCGA.

    • Ouija

      From what I know of my state, Kentucky, they are referring to a ban on concealed carry in places that serve alcohol. In my case it’s establishments that earn more than 50% of revenue from alcohol or something like that. I carry anyway.

      • Mike

        No such requirement in Georgia, in fact, you may enjoy a drink with your meal.

      • Mike D.

        Exactly correct. Georgia law no longer bans restaurant carry or bar carry (we can thank HB 60 for that one). The only places we can’t carry are gov buildings with security, post offices, and school zones are still up for debate. I’d never carry into a federal building even if they didn’t have security and only in a school zone if I was in my car, which is expressly allowed.

      • jimks

        Don’t think you have it right at all … well, they show the same thing for Kansas… and there is absolutely no restriction on carrying in restuarants, clubs, bars, liquor stores, or anywhere else.
        Now, any business can put up a no cc sign, but it’s also not a crime if you carry past a sign. July 1, we’ll be constitutional carry. Always been legal open carry.

  • Mikial

    Where did Virginia rank? We have excellent gun laws; Shall issue, open carry, no restaurant ban.

  • Ricky Bush

    Where’s Mississippi? It has the best gun laws in the country along with Arizona. They didn’t do their homework very well. In Mississippi you can even carry in schools man!

    • Ron

      The easy answer is to go to the VPC web site, find their list, and reverse the rankings. #50 would be # 1 and so forth. Just for entertainment value of course, I would never actually intentionally visit their web site, I have more important things to do with my time, like trim my toe-nails.

  • Mike

    If I know the information they write about my state is incorrect, why would I trust what they say about other states?

  • jay gapa

    Mike has his head up a–

    • Mike

      Please explain.

    • Erik B

      I don’t know Mike, but his data/facts are spot on. Prove otherwise.

  • Ken Hendrix

    Totally confused by the “Permit to carry”. The only state that does not issue a concealed carry permit is Vermont. Also Vermont along with Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Montana and Wyoming are permit-less (constitution) carry where a permit is not required to carry open or concealed.

    • Mike

      These states that allow carry without a permit, are not “Constitutional Carry” states, and using the term only dilutes it. We are constantly attacked by groups wanting to change the 2nd Amendment and by accepting such logic you are only giving them what they desire.

      • Lib Basher

        What?

      • Mike

        Try reading it slower.

      • Ron

        I read quite well, fast or slow. If you were trying to make a point you missed, completely. And now back to our regularly scheduled reality…

  • Ken Hendrix

    Actually I’m glad to see AZ is not #1. Hopefully Bloomberg and all his rich cronies who believe the government must control everything will focus their billions elsewhere. Let them pour their money into Alaska.

  • Rick

    Why didn’t Ohio get in there ?? We have very good gun laws here.
    They rank right with the top three !!

  • J.E.Walker

    Funny how the corrupt leftist “People’s Republic of Taxachusetts” didn’t make the list.

  • Bill Fleming

    Well I knew my State would not be on this list. Washington

  • cargosquid

    Wait a second.

    Virginia has open carry if its legal to carry.
    Easy permit for concealed.
    reciprocity.
    Carry in restaurants.
    Carry in government buildings including city hall and the CAPITOL.
    Great self defense laws.

    It should be in the top ten.

  • jimks

    There is no partial ban to carry in restaurants in Kansas… none. Nor anywhere else really.

  • Erik B

    How in the HELL did the ONLY, I repeat ONLY state (Vermont!) to NEVER in it’s entire history, restrict your right to own or carry arms, either concealed or open, end up 11th behind states that require permits??? This ranking is skewed just because we are an oddity in the anti-gun Northeast, just ‘cuz we don’t wear Stetsons doesn’t mean we are soft on gun rights. We don’t have “Castle Doctrine” per se, but the same effects are written in VT statute. MAYBE Alaska ties us for #1, but only if you ignore history.

    • Amy

      Agreed. They don’t call it “Vermont carry” for nothing. No permits required. Period.

  • KYRIFLE

    In Kentucky, you can carry either open or concealed into the state capitol building and walk around, even into the senate and house chambers if you like. How many other states can claim that?

    • GNewman

      Correction, you have to sign a waiver stating that you know people are carrying there, You yourself have to open carry inside those places.

  • Joe V.

    Dag Nam-it!!! Now I have to move from Florida to a State that is listed from the Top Five.

  • TerribleTenHorn

    Though technically correct (at the time of publication), it should have been noted that, after July 1, the state of Kansas will be among those states that allow concealed carry without a permit.

  • Terry Shown

    Kansas has no partial ban on restaurant carry.Permitless open carry is legal.Permitless conceal carry will be legal 01JUL15. No city or county may enact any firearm or knife laws.Any firearms used for evidence WILL be returned in”X” number of days.No city or county buyback programs allowed.

  • SPOOKYGUNNER

    How about COLORADO? I’M

  • Lib Basher

    Correction: Kansas is now a Constitutional Carry state.

    • Mike

      So they abolished all restrictions on firearms carry?

      • Lib Basher

        You can carry any way you want anywhere without exemption status (either a public building with adequate security, or with the 2017 exemption). You can also carry in the Capitol if you have a CCL. Not perfect, but pretty darned close.

  • Lawman_45

    Minnesota isn’t too bad, I say, for a Blue state.

    Permit to carry: yes – must issue
    Castle Doctrine: enacted, within one’s abode
    No-Net Loss: enacted
    Right to carry confidentiality: enacted
    Right to carry in restaurants: discretionary posting but no crime to enter
    Right to carry reciprocity and recognition: yes with recent broader law enacted

  • Mark

    Ks as of july 1st will be the same as Arizona and have constitutional permit Less carry same as Arizona also your information on the partial ban in restaurants is incorrect that was lifted in 07

  • jeff

    In the state of Michigan, a CPL holder can open carry on school grounds. We’re a liberal state. They are also removing churches if not legally posted. We have reciprocity, bars, sporting venues, hospitals, federal building s, that we’re prohibited from. People open carry. We don’t need a permit. We have stand your ground and castle doctrine as well. But the biggest thing is the open carry loop hole in school. I don’t believe in it, and I don’t have children in school so.

  • Ray

    You do realize that Texas just sign into law for open carry. Shouldn’t they be at least somewhere on this list. I live in Arkansas and I believe conceal carry license let’s me carry in more states than any other state’s carry license.

  • chris

    On Kansas. There is no restriction on restaurant carry and as of July 1 Kansas is a constitutional carry state.

  • There is no “partial ban” for restaurants in the state of Georgia. Restaurants are just exactly in the same category as any private business in the state. Any private business or private owner may prohibit carry of firearms on property that they own or lease.

    In addition, restaurants that serve alcohol have been legal for carry for some years now. Bars and nightclubs were added to that list last year with passage of HB 60, putting them in the same category as any private business as well.

  • Buddy

    This is so wrong. Restaurant carry has been legal in Georgia since 2008. The author need to do better research.

  • Mike

    Change the title to “11 BEST U.S, states for racist, trigger-happy, white, nutjobs.”

  • Patriot068

    Forgot Maine!! Constitutional carry State! Can still get a CCW permit to carry in other states that recognize Maines CCW permit. Open carry with no permit was already in place be4 the permit less concealed carry. So Maine should be one of the top 11

  • Patriot068

    Didn’t KY just enact constitutional carry and another state ?? I think Idaho starts in July??

    • Sho

      No, there is no constitutional carry yet here in KY

  • polarisgold

    You forgot Idaho. We have Constitutional Carry