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Associated Press

Where Utah stands nationally among other states with gun restrictions

By Carter Williams  |  Posted Jun 17th, 2016 @ 9:26pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Much has been discussed this week about guns and gun laws following the killing of 49 people inside a nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning.

While the nation debates if more should be done, laws differ significantly around the country on many aspects of gun ownership and use, including license requirements, waiting periods to purchase, background checks, concealed carry, regulation of unsafe handguns, ammunition, etc.

Regardless of sentiments in favor or against gun restrictions, access to firearms creates an undeniable public health and safety issue that communities, states, and the nation are trying to solve.

10 leading causes of injury death by age group. Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014

So where do Utah’s gun laws compare to the rest of the states? Here’s a look at the regulations in the states with the most and least restrictive gun laws in the country, as compiled by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

(Note: Gun death rank is based off deaths per capita, including both homicides and suicides. In that case, 1 is the most and 50 is the fewest.)

States with the most gun restrictions

(Photo: Shutterstock)

California

Gun law rank: 1
Gun death rank: 42

California requires all gun sales to be processed through a licensed dealer, pass a background check and for gun dealers to obtain a state license. All firearms purchasers must obtain a firearm safety certificate after passing a written test.

The state bans most assault weapons and .50-caliber rifles, and prohibits the sale or transfer of large-capacity ammunition magazines. The state imposes a 10-day waiting period prior to the sale or transfer of firearms, and an individual may only purchase one handgun per month.

State constitutional provision: None

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(Photo: Shutterstock)

Connecticut

Gun law rank: 2
Gun death rank: 47

Connecticut requires a two-week waiting period on long-gun transfers from licensed dealers, a background check prior to the transfer of a handgun or long gun between individuals other than licensed firearm dealers, and a background check for all firearm transfers at gun shows.

It requires firearms dealers to obtain a license — and handgun, long gun and ammunition purchasers to first obtain an eligibility certificate. It also conducts its own background checks instead of relying on the FBI.

Connecticut also allows local governments to regulate firearms and ammunition, as well as the ability to deny concealed weapons permits.

The state does not limit the number of firearms that may be purchased at a time or impose design safety standards on handguns.

State constitutional provision: “Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.” — Article I, Section 15

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(Photo: Shutterstock)

New Jersey

Gun law rank: 3
Gun death rank: 45

New Jersey requires permits to purchase any handgun, and a separate permit for anyone purchasing long guns. Both require a background check.

The state provides law enforcement discretion when issuing concealed weapon permits. It also prohibits the purchase or possession of firearms by persons convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence offenses and by individuals subject to protective orders.

There’s also a seven-day waiting period prior to the physical transfer of a handgun, and an individual is limited to just one handgun purchase per month. Licensing is required for all firearms dealers and their employees.

The state does not prohibit the transfer or possession of .50-caliber rifles, open carrying of firearms in public. It also does not prohibit the regulation of unsafe handguns.

State constitutional provision: None

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(Photo: Shutterstock)

Maryland

Gun law rank: 4
Gun death rank: 36

Maryland requires all dealers to have licenses in selling handguns or assault weapons, and requires that all private transfers of handguns and assault weapons to be processed through a licensed dealer or designated law enforcement agency. A background check is required on the purchaser through Maryland State Police.

All purchasers are also required to complete a certified firearms safety training course and an individual may only purchase one firearm in a 30-day period.

Maryland doesn’t impose many requirements on the majority of long-gun transfers and doesn’t allow local governments to regulate firearms.

State constitutional provision: None

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(Photo: Shutterstock)

Massachusetts

Gun law rank: 5
Gun death rank: 49

Massachusetts requires anyone selling, renting or leasing a firearm to obtain a state dealer license, and unlicensed sellers may only transfer no more than four firearms per year. Though .50-caliber rifles are not banned, some other assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines are banned by the state.

A license is required for all firearm purchasers, and firearm owners are required to report all lost or stolen firearms. As of 2014, Massachusetts requires that mentally ill individuals must be reported to the federal database for firearm background checks.

The state doesn’t limit the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time, and it does not impose a waiting period on firearm purchases. Unlicensed firearm sellers are not required to conduct background checks on a purchaser other than that the purchaser has a license.

State constitutional provision: “The people have a right to keep and bear arms for the common defense. And as, in time of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be maintained without the consent of the legislature, and the military power shall always be held in an exact subordination to the civil authority, and be governed by it.” — Declaration of Rights, Article 17

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(Photo: Adobe Stock)

Utah

Gun law rank: Tied at 37
Gun death rank: 19

Utah conducts its own background checks on individuals purchasing from licensed dealers.

Utah does not require background checks when transferring guns between unlicensed individuals, dealers to obtain a state license, require gun owners to obtain a license, nor report lost or stolen firearms.

State constitutional provision: “The individual right of the people to keep and bear arms for security and defense of self, family, others, property, or the State as well as for other lawful purposes shall not be infringed; but nothing herein shall prevent the legislature from defining the lawful use of arms.” — Article I, Section 6


States with the least gun restrictions:

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Alaska

Gun law rank: 46
Gun death rank: 1

Alaska does not require background checks prior to the transfer of a firearm between private parties, nor the transfer or possession of assault weapons, .50-caliber rifles or large-capacity ammunition magazines. The state does not require firearms dealers to obtain a state license. There is no waiting period and no limit to the number of firearms that can be purchased at one time.

It does not regulate ammunition sales or allow local governments to regulate firearms.

State constitutional provision: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The individual right to keep and bear arms shall not be denied or infringed by the state or political subdivision of the State.” — Article I, Section 19

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(Photo: Shutterstock)

Arizona

Gun law rank: 47
Gun death rank: 15

Arizona doesn’t require a background check prior to the transfer of firearms between private, unlicensed parties, nor does it prohibit the transfer or possession of assault weapons, .50-caliber rifles or large-capacity ammunition magazines.

It does not impose a waiting period for firearm sales and does not limit the number of firearms that can be purchased at one time. Arizona doesn’t provide local governments with authority to regulate firearms or require a license to carry concealed firearms in public.

State constitutional provision: “The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the State shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain, or employ an armed body of men.” — Article II, Section 26

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(Photo: Shutterstock)

Wyoming

Gun law rank: 48
Gun death rank: 7

Wyoming doesn’t require gun owners to obtain a license, register their firearms or report lost or stolen firearms. It doesn’t limit the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time and does not have a waiting period.

The state also doesn’t require a background check prior to the transfer of a firearm between unlicensed individuals. It also doesn’t require firearms dealers to obtain a state license, nor does it regulate the transfer of possession of assault weapons, .50-caliber rifles or large-capacity ammunition magazines.

State constitutional provision: “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be denied.” — Article I, Section 24

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(Photo: Shutterstock)

Mississippi

Gun law rank: 49
Gun death rank: 3

The state doesn’t require the licensing of gun owners and doesn’t impose registration requirements on firearms. It doesn’t require a background check prior to the transfer of a firearm between private parties and doesn’t prohibit the transfer or possession of assault weapons, .50-caliber rifles or large-capacity ammunition magazines.

Mississippi also doesn’t require licenses for firearm dealers and there aren’t many state regulations for dealers. There is no limit to the number of firearms that may be purchased at one time.

State constitutional provision: “The right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called in question, but the legislature may regulate or forbid carrying concealed weapons.” — Article III, Section 12

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(Photo: Shutterstock)

Kansas

Gun law rank: 50
Gun death rank: 26

Kansas requires some mentally ill individuals to be reported to a federal database used for firearm purchaser background checks.

Kansas doesn’t require a permit for adults 21 or older to carry a concealed handgun in public nor does it require gun owners to obtain a license, register a firearm or report any lost or stolen firearms. There is no waiting period prior to the purchase of a firearm and no limit to the amount that can be purchased at one time.

It also doesn’t regulate unsafe handguns and there is not much regulation on ammunition.

State constitutional provision: “The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security; but standing armies in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be tolerated, and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.” — Kansas Bill of Rights Section 4



Contact the author: cwilliams@ksl.com or on Twitter: @cwilliamsKSL

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