These Americans Own the Most Guns: Every State Ranked

Gun ownership is a constitutional right in the United States, and one that many Americans choose to exercise. With an estimated 433.9 million civilian-owned firearms nationwide, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, there are about 1.3 firearms for every American citizen, making the U.S. the only country in the world with more guns than people. 

However, gun ownership in the United States is not as prevalent as these numbers may suggest. Though the U.S. has the highest ratio of guns-to-people globally, the majority of Americans are not gun owners. According to a 2020 study published by the RAND Corporation, a research and public policy advocacy group, only about 32% of American households own a firearm. This suggests that the proliferation of guns in the U.S. is driven by a minority share of the population who own multiple firearms. (Here is a look at the Americans who own the most guns.)

Still, at the state level, gun ownership rates vary considerably. In some parts of the country, fewer than one in every 10 households own at least one firearm. In others, meanwhile, well over half of all households do. 

Using data from the RAND Corporation, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states with the highest gun ownership rates. States are ranked by the estimated share of households that own at least one firearm. 

Firearm regulations at the state level are closely linked with gun ownership rates. Gun control advocacy group Giffords Law Center grades states based on the strength of their gun control laws on an A to F scale, with A representing the strongest gun control policies, and F representing the weakest. Each of the 10 states with the highest gun-ownership rates received an F from the Giffords score card, while nine of the 10 states with the lowest gun-ownership rates received a B+ or higher. 

Common gun control policies – which are largely absent in the states with the highest firearm ownership rates – include, but are not limited to, mandatory waiting periods, licensing requirements, public carry restrictions, and stricter background check standards. These laws are designed to keep firearms out of the wrong hands and reduce the likelihood of gun violence, accidental or otherwise. 

With a greater prevalence of firearms, and often a more lax approach to gun control, gun violence tends to be more common in the parts of the country with higher ownership rates. For example, in Massachusetts, where only 9% of households own a firearm, there were 3.4 firearm-related deaths for every 100,000 people in 2021, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By contrast, the firearm death rate stands at 33.9 per 100,000 in Mississippi, a state where over half of all households own a firearm. (Here is a look at the number of guns Americans purchased every year since 1986.)

Click here to see gun ownership by state.

Click here to read our detailed methodology.

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