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10 States With the Toughest Gun Laws

By Andrew Lu | Last updated on

State gun laws are unfortunately on everyone's minds in the wake of the Connecticut elementary school shootings.

Each state has its own gun laws with varying degrees of effectiveness and toughness. Some states like California are known to be notoriously tough on gun owners, while other states like Utah and Alaska have comparatively lax laws, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

In fact, the Brady Campaign issues "scorecards" to rank each state's gun laws. Here are the 10 states with the toughest gun laws, according to the Brady Campaign's latest report:

  1. California
  2. New Jersey
  3. Massachusetts
  4. New York
  5. Connecticut
  6. Hawaii
  7. Maryland
  8. Rhode Island
  9. Illinois
  10. Pennsylvania

So what exactly makes a state's gun laws "tough"? One important factor in the Brady Campaign's assessment is having a law that limits individuals to just one handgun purchase per month.

Also, though federal law requires background checks before gun sales by firearms dealers, the Brady Campaign gives better scores to states that conduct their own background checks, as opposed to contacting the FBI for that purpose. The FBI uses only a federal database for criminal background checks, which doesn't always include state data, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Many states have also enacted their own bans on specific assault weapons. State assault-weapon prohibitions are similar to the federal assault weapons ban which was signed into law by President Clinton in 1994, but expired in 2004.

It should be noted, however, that federal lawmakers are currently planning to introduce another assault weapons ban on the first day of the new Congress, reports The Huffington Post.

To learn more about gun laws in a specific state, check out FindLaw's page on state gun control laws. If you have specific questions about a particular situation, you may want to talk to an attorney.

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