Political News

NC's gun laws rank in the middle of the pack

Posted February 13, 2016
Updated February 20, 2016

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Early in 2016, President Barack Obama sparked further debate on the gun control issue when he introduced a new set of executive orders aimed at reducing gun violence. Although the executive orders would bypass Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., stated the rules “will no doubt be challenged in the courts.”

Regardless, it’s clear the subject of gun control will remain at the forefront of American politics and the 2016 election. With that in mind, InsideGov decided to examine the current gun control measures in place, using data from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence ranks states by the relative overall strength or weakness of their gun laws, where higher scores — and therefore a higher grade — represent tougher gun laws. Laws that require background checks are weighted most heavily. Other considerations include dealer licensing, waiting periods and assault weapons bans. We've visualized each state's score compared to the national average, which was calculated by averaging each state’s score.

#25. North Carolina

Score: 17
Grade: F

North Carolina, in 2015, enacted a law that eased the criteria for issuing a handgun permit. Lawmakers additionally loosened restrictions on permit holders keeping guns in vehicles.

#24. West Virginia

Score: 18
Grade: D-

West Virginia may rank low in terms of overall gun control, but in 2015 Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed a bill that would have allowed people to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

#23. Indiana

Score: 19.5
Grade: D-

The relatively lax firearm laws in Indiana have led some to link them to gun violence in Chicago.

#22. New Hampshire

Score: 20.5
Grade: D

New Hampshire requires handgun dealers to obtain a state license, but does not extend the rule to dealers of rifles and shotguns.

#21. Nebraska

Score: 21.5
Grade: D

Nebraska differs from many states in that it gives local jurisdictions some control over firearm regulations.

#20. Virginia

Score: 22
Grade: D

Following the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, the state took greater measures to report mental health records and prohibit sales of firearms to any person who has been "adjudicated as a mental defective."

#19. Ohio

Score: 24
Grade: D

Ohio does not prohibit the sale of assault weapons nor limit the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time.

#18. Wisconsin

Score: 25
Grade: D

In a major blow to gun control advocates, Republican Gov. Scott Walker repealed the state's mandatory 48-hour waiting period for handgun purchases in 2015.

#17. Iowa

Score: 29
Grade: C-

Iowa took steps to tighten gun control when it enacted child access prevention requirements upon gun owners.

#16. Colorado

Score: 29.5
Grade: C-

While Colorado requires licensed firearms dealers to process background checks, it does not impose limits on the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time.

#15. Michigan

Score: 30
Grade: C

Michigan gun control laws require firearm owners to report handgun purchases and theft of any firearm.

#14. Oregon

Score: 31
Grade: C

Oregon greatly strengthened its firearm regulations in 2015 when it enacted laws requiring background checks for all firearm purchases.

#13. Pennsylvania

Score: 35
Grade: C

Compared to other solidly Democratic states, Pennsylvania's gun control laws are relatively lax, with no requirements for firearm owners to obtain licenses or register their weapons.

#12. Minnesota

Score: 36.5
Grade: C

Although federally licensed firearms dealers must initiate background checks, Minnesota does not require private sellers to do so.

#11. Washington

Score: 47.5
Grade: B-

Washington requires all firearm dealers to obtain a state license, but does not mandate that individuals register their weapons.

#10. Delaware

Score: 50.5
Grade: B

Delaware has relatively strict gun control measures, including mandatory background checks and purchase restrictions on domestic violence misdemeanants.

#9. Rhode Island

Score: 58.5
Grade: B+

Rhode Island may have comprehensive gun control measures overall, but it still does not prohibit the transfer or possession of assault weapons.

#8. Illinois

Score: 60
Grade: B+

In addition to requiring background checks, Illinois has instituted some design safety standards for handguns.

#7. Hawaii

Score: 73.5
Grade: B+

In 2014, Hawaii had the lowest number of firearm-related deaths per 100K people. Gun regulation advocates have attributed this to its tight gun control measures.

#6. New York

Score: 81
Grade: A-

New York enacted major gun control reforms in 2013, including an expansion of the assault weapons ban and requirements for ammunition dealers to conduct background checks.

#5. Massachusetts

Score: 81.5
Grade: A-

Following the New York reforms, Massachusetts passed a comprehensive gun control bill in 2014 that increased firearm regulations.

#4. Maryland

Score: 82
Grade: A-

Among Maryland's firearm regulations are a ban on the transfer of certain assault weapons and a mandatory seven-day waiting period prior to the physical transfer of a firearm.

#3. New Jersey

Score: 86
Grade: A-

Republican Gov. Chris Christie may have shifted to the right on the issue of gun control, but his state still has some of the tightest firearm regulations in the country.

#2. Connecticut

Score: 86.5
Grade: A-

Connecticut's extensive gun control laws require firearms dealers to obtain a license and mandate background checks for all firearm sales at gun shows.

#1. California

Score: 93.5
Grade: A-

California takes the top spot as the state with the strictest gun control measures. Among the regulations in place are required background checks and limitations on the number of handguns an individual can purchase each month.

Gun Control Overview

The map below shows how each state ranks in terms of firearm regulations. Generally speaking, states that vote Republican tend to have less regulation on guns.

Research Political Issues at InsideGov


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  • Andrew Gluck Feb 22, 2016
    user avatar

    Norman Lewis, you are totally correct. This is only aimed at law abiding citizens, not criminals who commit the crimes. We need to enforce the gun laws on the books, and give the maximum penalty when a gun is used in a crime, no plea bargains when guns are used!

  • Barrett Powell Feb 21, 2016
    user avatar

    A gun law lessons the liberties and rights guaranteed under the constitution. States with more laws are simply stripping away more rights. What is there to be proud about that?

    A more sensible rating, and one for which WRAL should have gone for was how states rank from a gun violence prosecution standpoint. But again that would not have met with WRALs narrative and anti-gun slant. Just for the record, I don't watch WRAL or use their mobile app anymore. I've switched to the OTHER less liberal station in the area. I only come here to offer opinion from time to time. Shame.

  • Charlie Watkins Feb 21, 2016
    user avatar

    If you do not like guns then don't buy one.

  • Eric Atkinson Feb 20, 2016
    user avatar

    Let's shoot for # 50 on this list.

  • Dean Morron Feb 20, 2016
    user avatar

    Hmmm, seems like California should be getting the F rating, not North Carolina. This article is pure bias and I see no sane reason WRAL would waste a reader's time with such " useless information". Chicago has one of the most stringent gun control laws but has a murder rate that is astronomical , why is that ?

  • Doug Smallen Feb 20, 2016
    user avatar

    Liberal bias at it's best!

  • Wayne Uber Feb 20, 2016
    user avatar

    Greer makes the mistake of suggesting that more laws in every state are always a good thing. This article does not suggest to readers that non-legislative measures such target hardening, motive reduction and conflict avoidance might more effectively reduce overall crime rates (with the added benefit of less controversy).

  • Bob Owens Feb 20, 2016
    user avatar

    The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is a California-based gun control organization.

    This is pure anti-gun propaganda in an election year. Is WRAL will to give the National Rifle Association or National Shooting Sports Foundation equal time?

  • Norman Lewis Feb 20, 2016
    user avatar

    A better rating would be to rank states on their violent gun crime rate as related to the strength of their gun laws. Otherwise, this article is pure you know what propaganda.

  • Craig Elliott Feb 20, 2016
    user avatar

    This isn't news- its propaganda, pure and simple.