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Gun control in America: A state-by-state breakdown

Gun control laws vary dramatically from state to state, with some states requiring background checks, permits and licences before firearms can be sold. Other states, particularly in south and midwest, have a much less stringent process in place for gun owners and dealers.

This interactive charts five gun laws – tracked by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence – alongside regional differences and political leanings.

Click any tab on the top right to change the order of the states. Hover over any section to see more detail about the gun laws and Brady Campaign score.

Design and layout based on Gay Rights in the US by the Guardian's US interactive team.

Sort states by:

Laws on file

  • If no colour appears, there is no such law on file

  • 2012 election results
  • Background check law
  • Permit required to purchase
  • Licence required to sell
  • Records kept on file
  • Firearms banned from workplace

Hover over any section to see more detail

Gun laws by state

States with the highest firearm murder rate

Louisiana scored only two points on the Brady scale for banning guns from college campuses. It also has the highest firearm murder rate per 100,000 people in the country. Oveall, Republican states have an average Brady score of 4.6, compared to 26.73 for states that voted for President Obama in the last election.

States with the lowest firearm murder rate

Hawaii has the lowest firearm murder rate in the United States with just 0.07 murders per 100,000 people. South Dakota is the only Republican state to rank on this list. Despite scoring only 7 points on the Brady score and enacting none of the laws highlighted on this chart, Iowa still has one of the lowest firearm murder rates in the country.

States with recent gun violence

Five states with recent public shootings are listed below. In 2011 outside a public meeting in Tucson, Arizona, a gunman opened fire, killing six people and wounding 14 more, including Representative Gabrielle Giffords. On Dec. 14, 2012, a gunman shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children, at the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut. In 2007, a student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University killed 27 students and five faculty. In July, 2012, a 24-year-old opened fire in a movie theatre in Colorado, killing several patrons. In 2005, a teenager on an Indian reserve in Minnesota killed nine people and then himself.

Sources: The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Design and layout based on the Gay rights in the US by the Guardian interactive team
Interactive by Stuart A. Thompson

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