Look, I'll say right up front that I don't like guns. The only gun I ever shot was a .22 in back of my uncle's house in the Connecticut woods when I was about 9 years old. So I'm all in favor of stricter gun regulations, which to my mind seem perfectly consistent with the 2nd amendment. I mean, we can't park a tank in our front yard or sport nuclear weapons in our garage, can we? So it's not much of a stretch to think we shouldn't be arming ourselves with military grade repeating rifles either.
But my point here is not to argue for or against gun control. Maybe some people feel safer if they're carrying a firearm. I don't agree with them. But nobody's putting me on the Supreme Court to rule about the issue.
The fact is, the federal government has very few gun laws. Some gun attachments, such as high capacity magazines, are banned, but for the most part gun laws are enacted by the states.
Of course, there are always details in the laws. For example, in Arizona you can carry a concealed handgun without a permit. But you do need a permit to carry a gun "into a establishment that serves alcohol for consumption on the premises." Also, a few states such as Alabama and Indiana have passed new laws allowing "permitless carry" that won't go into effect until later this year.
With that, here are the 25 states where you can carry a gun without a license (and at what age):
- Alabama -- 19
- Alaska -- 21
- Arizona -- 21
- Arkansas, -- 21, 18 for military
- Georgia --21, 18 for military
- Indiana -- 18
- Idaho -- 18
- Iowa -- 21
- Kansas -- 21
- Kentucky -- 21
- Maine -- 21
- Mississippi -- 18
- Missouri -- 19
- Montana -- 18
- New Hampshire -- 19
- North Dakota -- 18
- Ohio -- 21
- Oklahoma -- 18
- South Dakota -- 21, 18 for military
- Tennessee - -21, 18 for military
- Texas -- 21
- Utah -- 21
- Vermont -- 18
- West Virginia -- 21, 18 for military
- Wyoming -- 21
Now, if you're a little leery of living in the "Wild West" where guns are popular and prevalent, you might consider retiring to a state with stricter gun laws.
California has the strictest gun laws, followed by Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island. These states typically require background checks and a waiting period, and sometimes training, before someone is allowed to buy a gun.
Many states are more in the middle, with just a few limits on guns. A typical example might be North Carolina, which requires a permit to purchase and carry a handgun, but not a rifle or shotgun. Perhaps not coincidentally, North Carolina has a gun-death rate that's just about average for the country, at 13 per hundred thousand people per year.
The U. S. state with the lowest death rate is Rhode Island, with just over 3 gun deaths per hundred thousand. RI is followed by fellow gun-law states like Massachusetts, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California. I can't tell you what conclusion to draw from this. You'll just have to make your own decision.
Maybe it depends on how good a shot you are, or how fast you are with a trigger. So if you're a quick-draw, you might feel comfortable living in Mississippi (23 deaths), Wyoming (21) or Missouri (21). But if you're slow on the uptake, like I am, or a little nervous about an 18-year-old packing heat, you'd better stay in the Northeast . . . or move to Hawaii.