The Most Gun Friendly States in 2023

Last Updated on May 9, 2024.
The Most Gun Friendly States in 2021

Although the overwhelming majority of gun owners are among the most respectful of laws and regulations, gun laws vary from state to state and change frequently. Every gun owner needs to possess the most up-to-date information.

Have you ever wondered which states are the best for gun owners? Learn what makes a gun-friendly state, which criteria a gun-friendly state should meet, and learn about the top three states for gun owners.

The Gun Friendliness Criteria

To determine the gun friendliness of a particular state, five aspects of that state’s firearm legislation must first be examined and assessed:

Deadly-force laws

When a citizen faces lethal danger in this particular state, do they have a duty-to-retreat or can they stand-their-ground? Is there a Castle Doctrine provision in place? Are there Good Samaritan legal protections in place?

Carry laws

Is it legal to carry a concealed weapon in this state? What about open carry?Is a permit or a license required to carry concealed or openly, and if yes, what are the costs and rules associated? Does this state recognize other states’ carry licenses?

Magazine restrictions and assault weapon laws

Does this state ban certain firearms or categories of firearms based on cosmetic features (collapsible stock, bayonet lug, threaded barrel, etc.)?

Are there magazine capacity restrictions in place, and if yes, what are they?

NFA items

Even if they are legal at the federal level, does this state restrict the possession of NFA items (suppressors, SBRs, SBSs, AOWs, DDs, machine guns), and if so, which types?

Red flag laws

Can the state court order the confiscation of a person’s firearms if the court believes that person presents a danger to themselves or others? In contrast, does the state disallow cities, counties, and local entities from passing such laws? (Anti-red flag statute)

The Top 3 Most Gun-Friendly States

In theory, the most gun-friendly states should possess the following:

  • Advantageous deadly-force laws (Stand-your-ground, Castle Doctrine, Good Samaritan laws).
  • Permissive carry laws (“Constitutional carry,” ideally with an option to purchase a license for recognition in other states).
  • No assault weapon laws and no magazine restrictions.
  • All federally-legal NFA items are legal to own.
  • No red flag laws, ideally with an anti-red flag statute preventing cities and counties from enacting such laws at the local level.

Based on these criteria, the top three states are as follows:

#1: Arizona

Most gun owners agree that Arizona is the most gun-friendly state, and it has been for over a decade, thanks to its consistently strong gun laws and a thriving local shooting and gun-owning culture.

Some of the most well-known firearms industry professionals are in Arizona; the Big Sandy machine gun range (Wikieup), the Gunsite Academy (Prescott), the Sonoran Desert Institute gunsmithing school (Tempe), and InRange Productions, producers of the InRangeTV and Forgotten Weapons YouTube channels (Tucson).

Arizona gun laws in a nutshell:

  • Deadly-force laws: Under ARS 13-404, Arizona is effectively (although not explicitly) a stand-your-ground and Castle Doctrine state. Arizona was the 41st state to enact a Good Samaritan law, passed in 2018.
  • Carry laws: Arizona has been a Constitutional Carry state since 2010. Carry licenses are optional, available for $60, valid for five years, and recognized by 37 other states.No assault weapon statutes, no magazine capacity restrictions.
  • NFA items: Under ARS 13-3101, NFA items are illegal to possess unless registered in compliance with federal laws. However, because the possession of unregistered NFA items is already a federal offense, legally-owned NFA items are effectively legal in Arizona.No red flag laws.

#2: Alaska

Alaska was the second state to adopt Constitutional Carry laws after Vermont.

Although exact figures are unknown, Alaska may be one of the states with the highest gun ownership rate, with figures estimating 60% to 65% of Alaska households have at least one firearm. 

Alaska gun laws in a nutshell:

  • Deadly-force laws: Alaska became a stand-your-ground state in 2013, expanding on the existing Castle Doctrine laws under AS 11.81.335.
  • Carry laws: Alaska has been a Constitutional Carry state since 2003, as outlined under AS 18.65.700No assault weapon statutes, no magazine capacity restrictions.No restrictions against the ownership of NFA items.No red flag laws.

Alaska is also one of only four states to have passed a state-wide “Second Amendment Sanctuary” (2A Sanctuary) statute, the Alaska Firearms Freedom Act (HB 169).

Theoretically, states and localities with 2A Sanctuary laws vow not to enforce any present or future federal gun control legislation. However, and at present, such statutes are considered to be mostly symbolic and unenforceable.

#3: Idaho

Idaho is home to some of the finest firearms and accessory manufacturers, such as Gemtech, Nightforce Optics, and Primary Weapons Systems. It is also another one of the four states with a state-wide 2A Sanctuary statute.

Idaho is also considered one of the best states for hunting and fishing, with over 300,000 registered hunting or fishing license holders (approximately 17% of the state’s population).

No less than 60% of the state’s geography is public ground, with an incredibly diverse variety of species hunted year-round: staples such as deer, elk, duck, and turkey, but also more uncommon animals such as wolves, black bears, antelope, and bighorn sheep, depending on the season and available opportunities.

Idaho gun laws in a nutshell:

  • Deadly-force laws: Idaho became a stand-your-ground and Castle Doctrine state in 2018, with the passage of SB 1313, strengthening the self-defense and deadly-force statutes outlined in Idaho 19-202A.
  • Carry laws: Idaho became the 9th Constitutional Carry state in 2019 with the passage of SB 1389. Despite that, the state’s carry laws became even more permissive in July 2020, clarifying and expanding the persons covered under Idaho 18-3302. Since July 1, 2020, all US citizens and active military personnel aged 18 or more (not just Idaho residents) may legally carry a firearm concealed without a permit.
  • No assault weapon statutes, no magazine capacity restrictions.
  • No restrictions against the ownership of NFA items.
  • No red flag laws.

The Last Word

Although the states listed above are three of the most gun-friendly states in the nation, don’t despair if you aren’t a resident of any of them. Many more states have permissive and gun-friendly statutes on the books.

No matter where you live, you should always be aware of your state’s gun laws and legislation. Don’t hesitate to peruse the NRA-ILA’s database if you need more information about your state’s gun laws.

Know more about federal bill HR 127 and laws governing guns, visit this page.

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