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A while back CBS did an interesting data dive into the ATF’s National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR), comparing it to the data from the 2013 U.S. Census. CBS wanted to figure out which states were the most/least heavily armed and rank them in order from least to most. However, their data was skewed from the beginning because the NFRTR is not comprehensive. It only includes certain heavily regulated types of firearms, so the survey would be more appropriately called which states are the most heavily armed with regulated styles of firearms. But that was too wordy… so CBS just explained which “guns” would be included in their calculations.


While the ATF’s National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record is the only accessible list of its kind, it is not all-inclusive. NFA firearms only include the categories regulated by The National Firearms Act of 1934: machine guns, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, suppressors, destructive devices like bombs and grenades, concealable devices with the ability to discharge a shot through the energy of an explosive, and any firearm with a bore over half an inch that has not been determined to have a legitimate sporting use.

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While this list is lengthy, it does not include categories like pistols, which make up a large percentage of the guns in the U.S. As such, the total numbers of guns in each state would actually be much higher than the figures here. This gallery is a but a snapshot of some of the broader trends.

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That means most of the nations handguns, rifles, shotguns, etc. will not be found on this registry, so the actual number of guns in each state is far higher than the data suggests. Not only that, if we included all of those firearms on this list, some states (and Washington, D.C.) would drop down the list while others would rise.

So, here’s the list from worst (least amount) to first (largest gun population)\, and the list includes Washington, D.C.:

51. New York
50. Rhode Island
49. Delaware
48. Michigan
47. Massachusetts
46. Hawaii
45. New Jersey
44. Iowa
43. Vermont
42. Mississippi
41. Nebraska
40. California
39. Wisconsin
38. Missouri
37. Washington
36. Maine
35. Illinois
33. (tie) West Virginia
33. (tie) Arizona
31. (tie) North Dakota
31. (tie) Minnesota
30. Florida
29. Kansas
28. North Carolina
25. (tie) Tennessee
25. (tie) Montana
25. (tie) Connecticut
23. (tie) Oregon
23. (tie) Ohio
22. South Dakota
21. South Carolina
20. Colorado
19. Oklahoma
18. Texas
17. Utah
16. Kentucky
15. Indiana
13. (tie) New Hampshire
13. (tie) Georgia
11. (tie) Pennsylvania
11. (tie) Maryland
10. Louisiana
9. Alaska
8. Nevada
7. Alabama
6. Idaho
5. Virginia
4. New Mexico
3. Arkansas
2. District of Columbia
1. Wyoming

Some of the names near the top of the list are not at all surprising. New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Delaware, Hawaii, and California are all in the top-11 on this list and they all rank among the top 10 most anti-freedom states in the Union. However, there are a few surprises based on the rankings. Vermont and Mississippi are two of the most 2nd Amendment friendly states in the nation, but they rank pretty high up on this list. Meanwhile, Washington, D.C. is by far the most anti-2nd Amendment locale in the country and it’s #2 for highest level of gun ownership on this list – that’s 66 guns for every 1000 residents. My guess is that these are probably folks who work in security or federal defense agencies (like the FBI, CIA, NSA, Secret Service, etc.).

So, are you surprised at where your state ranked? In the comments below, please tell us about the gun culture in your state, city, or town and where you think your state really lands on this list.


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