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Gun Laws by State

While the Second Amendment protects individuals’ right to bear arms on a federal and a state level, individual states have adopted their own unique regulations on the sale and possession of firearms. Learn about gun laws in different states so that no matter where you live, you’re a lawful gun owner.

State Laws and Regulations

Below are basic gun regulations and a list of the states that enforce each ordinance. For full, comprehensive gun laws by state, refer to the State Laws and Published Ordinances for Firearms distributed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Background Checks

According to federal law, all federally licensed firearms dealers must perform background checks on prospective firearms purchasers. Since this law does not require private or unlicensed dealers to conduct background checks, states have adopted different regulations surrounding background checks for firearm purchases. Below is a list of the states that have extended the background check requirement beyond federal law to at least some private sales.

  • States that require universal background checks at point of sale for all sales and transfers of firearms: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

  • States that require background checks at point of sale for handguns but not for long guns: Maryland and Pennsylvania.

  • States that require a background check to issue a permit in order to buy a firearm: Hawaii, Illinois, and Massachusetts.

  • States with similar background check requirements: Iowa, Michigan, and Nebraska.

Gun Registration

There is currently no national system for gun registration. On the state level, state governments have adopted different regulations surrounding gun registration.

  • States that require registration of all firearms include: California, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia.

  • States that require registration of handguns only: New York.

  • States that require registration of pre-ban assault weapons or 50 caliber rifles: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York.

  • States that prohibit registries of firearms: Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont.

Assault Weapon Ban

In 1994, Congress adopted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which made it “unlawful for a person to manufacture, transfer, or possess” a semiautomatic assault weapon. The law expired in 2004, however, and assault weapons are now legal unless banned by state law. Below is a list of states with assault weapon bans:

  • States currently banning assault weapons: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and the District of Columbia. Minnesota and Virginia regulate assault weapons without completely banning them.

Charged with a Gun Crime in California? Hire the Right Defense

If you’re a resident of California, you’re subject to stricter gun regulations than any other state in the country.

If you’ve been charged with a gun crime, it’s crucial you speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Virginia L. Landry is a passionate supporter of your second amendment rights, and she’s here to fight for you.

If you’re facing a weapons-related offense in California, don’t wait. Contact the contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry at (888) 272-6668 for a free consultation today!