The United States is ranked number one globally when it comes to gun ownership. Estimates show that there are anywhere from over 200 million to more than 350 million guns in the U.S. Because of variances in regulations throughout the nation, it’s impossible to get exact numbers when it comes to the total number of guns in the nation and the number of guns in each state. However, the Pew Research Center has compiled data that is about as accurate as it gets.
Before diving into gun ownership stats by state, let’s look at some general gun statistics throughout the nation. According to the Pew Research Center, the southern United States has the highest amount of gun owners, with about 36% of residents living in this region owning a gun. The Midwest and West each have gun ownership levels that exceed 30%, while the Northeast has the lowest number of gun owners at about 16%. Most guns in the United States are owned by rural households, while more men own guns than women.
Now, let’s take a look at gun ownership by state. It’s important to note that we’re looking at the total percentage of gun ownership based on population. While one state may have more guns, the population may also be higher. For the purpose of this article, we’re focusing on the total percentage of gun ownership in relation to the state’s population.
Based on this, the state of Montana has the highest gun ownership rate, with 66.3% of adults owning a gun. Wyoming closely follows at 66.2%, with Alaska in third at 64.5%.
On the other side of the scale, we have the states with the lowest percentage of gun owners. Massachusetts and New Jersey have the lowest gun ownership rate of 14.7%, followed by Rhode Island, with 14.8%, and Hawaii, with 14.9%. New York is the only other state with gun ownership less than 20% at 19.9%. Both Massachusetts and New Jersey have some of the strictest gun ownership laws in the United States. Obtaining a permit or license required to even purchase a gun in these states can take weeks and is relatively rigorous. However, Massachusetts also consistently has one of the lowest gun fatality rates in the United States.
Here are the 10 states with the highest rates of gun ownership:
- Montana – 66.3%
- Wyoming – 66.2%
- Alaska – 64.5%
- Idaho – 60.1%
- West Virginia – 58.5%
- Arkansas – 57.2%
- Mississippi – 55.8%
- Alabama – 55.5%
- South Dakota – 55.3%
- North Dakota – 55.1%