Worst States to Be a Gun Owner (2023 Updated)

The sheer volume of firearms in the United States is a point of contention for almost every American. Some believe we have too few, while others believe we have too many. Nonetheless, firearms are a large part of American culture. We value our liberties, the natural right to self-defense, the inherent check on state power an armed populace offers, and the heritage which we pass down from generation to generation.

Whether an individual defines freedom as a life without firearms or a life without government interference, we can all agree that some states do not support gun ownership. Whether it’s a regionally-based cultural divide, or a collective ideology of utopian societies, state legislators represent the voice of their constituents. In this case, some promote individual freedom and personal defense, while others believe the opposite.

We’ve investigated each state’s sales tax, current laws, upcoming laws, concealed carry guidelines, and self-defense statutes to understand better your state’s position on the Personal Liberty and Self-Defense debate.

What Did We Measure?

Before we dive in, let’s take a moment to analyze what factors make a state The Worst for Gun Ownership. If we consider only purchasing requirements, we neglect carrying requirements and use of force thresholds. So, we came up with a list based on the following factors:

  1. Current Gun Laws
  2. Current Purchase Laws
  3. Current CCW Guidelines
  4. Reciprocity between other states
  5. Sales Tax
  6. Current Governor’s voting history
  7. Stand Your Ground Laws

#46 Connecticut

Residents of Connecticut must obtain the state’s CTPP (Connecticut State Pistol Permit) to carry a firearm. But the issuing jurisdiction has discretion over approvals. If you do manage to obtain the state’s permission to carry a firearm, you’ll need to pass a firearm safety course with five live fire sessions, and then you can conceal carry or travel to 27 states.

If you manage to purchase a firearm in Connecticut, you’ll be pleased to know that the state offers sales tax exemptions[76] for safety equipment. Those who must protect their lives, home, office, or property will find that the burden of proof[77] is on the defendant (the person who uses force in self-defense). Citizens also have a duty to retreat in Connecticut.

Governor Ned Lamont continues to push for more gun control legislation[78], including limiting the number of firearm purchases per individual, per month, to only one.

#47 New Jersey

New Jersey employs a State Police Firearms Department, which may tell you everything you need to know about the small state’s stance on gun ownership. Residents can’t carry a firearm without a permit. You must first apply at your local police department, then proceed to higher courts to get approval. If you do manage to get a PCH (Permit to Carry a Handgun), you can conceal carry and legally carry your firearm in 26 other states. Meanwhile, New Jersey doesn’t honor any other state’s firearms permits.

Gun owners must obtain a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (PFIC) before buying guns from an FFL dealer or private seller. If that isn’t harsh enough, you’ll also need the PFIC to purchase handgun ammo.

All of the hurdles aside, residents do have castle doctrine protections[79] under NJ state law. But of course, Governor Phil Murphy is working diligently to impose further limitations[80] on citizens’ rights to keep and bear arms.

#48 Illinois

Illinois allows those over 21 to apply for a CCL (Concealed Carry License) with the State Police; this permit allows residents to conceal carry but not openly carry. But the police reserve the right to deny anyone a license. You must complete a 16-hour firearms training course before applying, and the state offers non-resident permits for individuals from six states (but honors no out-of-state permits).

Purchasers must obtain a FOID card[81] from the state police before attempting to buy guns from an FFL dealer or private seller. However, there’s no firearm registration in the state. You won’t get any tax breaks[82] for firearm safety equipment, firearms, or ammunition. Illinois law does not outline whether a civilian has a duty to retreat[83]; however, the state’s Supreme Court has upheld that there is no duty to retreat from a threatening individual.

Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois State Legislature recently banned “assault” weapons[84] and “high-capacity” magazines. Illinois will remain on the Worst States for Gun Owners list for the foreseeable future.

#49 New York

New York is, by far, one of the strictest states in the U.S. You cannot legally carry a loaded firearm outside of your home without an NYPL. You must register all firearms, undergo extensive background checks, and have a permit-to-purchase.

Despite their CCW status, visitors from other states cannot carry in New York. New York also restricts[85] magazines, accessories, and even firearms. If you do have a firearm in the state, you must keep it secure[86] and away from others at all times. You will also pay the standard sales tax for your firearms in New York State. Furthermore, a few years ago, the state tried to implement additional fees for firearms purchases, but the bill never left the committee.

While you may need to defend your life or property in New York, you do have a duty to retreat[87] (unless you’re in your home). But if a reasonable person agrees that wasn’t an option, you’re protected from prosecution.

New York gun owners do have some relief at the moment, as the Supreme Court[88] just ruled that concealed permits must be offered at the local level. However, Governor Kathy Hochul[89] is a staunch gun control supporter and will continue to work toward more restrictive measures.

#50 California

Choosing the number one, worst state for gun owners wasn’t an easy task. The bottom five states have many laws that prevent gun owners from purchasing and carrying firearms. But California beats the others out for a few reasons.

Naturally, you can’t open carry without a permit. But now you can at least reasonably obtain one, thanks to the Supreme Court. Californians who already own “assault” weapons or “high-capacity” magazines must register them with the state’s DOJ Firearms Bureau[90].

Residents can only purchase one firearm every 30 days, and there is a waiting period (although exceptions do apply[91]). However, the state does have a few redeeming qualities as it pertains to gun ownership. Surprisingly, California is a stand-your-ground state[92] which means you have no duty to retreat from a life-threatening situation.

The Golden State seems to be paving the way for gun control for many other states. Therefore, it lands in the number one spot. With Governor Gavin Newsome leading the way, we’re certain California will remain one of the worst states for gun owners.

2A. All Day?

As mentioned above, it’s crucial to consider your state’s laws and county ordinances before carrying a firearm. Some states have pro-Second Amendment governors, while others are a brewing cauldron of rights versus safety. Some states restrict legal protections for those in self-defense scenarios, and others promote them. No matter your state, if it’s on this list, it isn’t as conducive to respecting your Second Amendment rights as many others.

Read the full article with all the runners-up on Ammo.com!


There is NOTHING Golden about Commiefornia
There is so much Evil there.
It is a lost cause if those in power aren’t swept out of there.


washingrad and oregun are catching up


It is lost because they don’t clean house. They appear to have turned away from God, with the predictable result.

The same is in store for the rest of America if we don’t correct.

I think of 9/11 as a warning. Instead of returning to God, we have doubled down in many ways. I pray we get this country turned around.


It’s a lost cause, period. Best we can do is quarantine.


Its staggering to think that the state with the biggest GDP is also the one with the most debt. WV has had surplus for years. And are even given its citizens a tax break on land taxes next year.


How do we keep them away from us though they are migrating out due to unlivable conditions and bringing their screwed up ideology witb them.


MY bro said to add New Mexico to the mix until they drag her off of her office in leg irons.


Someone will show up and give her a medal of honor :medal_military: for that wise decision.

There is no Marshall law and she cant just suspend rights … that is how looney those leftist are.