On Wednesday morning a gunman opened fire on a baseball field in Alexandria, where Republican congressmen were practicing for the upcoming Congressional Baseball Game. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who witnessed the scene, recalled hearing a “rally” of gunfire. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) later said there were “dozens, if not hundreds, of shots fired,” indicating that a weapon with a high-capacity magazine may have been used.

[A shooter opened fire at a GOP baseball practice. Here’s what happened in maps and photos]

The sale and purchase of high-capacity magazines are one of a number of gun issues that are regulated state-by-state, intended to prevent certain individuals from obtaining guns or limit access to particular types of weapons, like assault rifles. Of the five types of regulations we looked at, no single restriction has been enacted in every state. Instead, there are a patchwork of regulations across the U.S., with the exact restrictions varying across state lines.

We looked at five types of gun control enacted at the state level: assault weapons bans, high-capacity magazine bans, gun possession prohibitions for high-risk individuals, gun possession prohibitions for individuals with domestic violence convictions and mandatory background checks.

States with:

5 types

of laws

4 types

of laws

3 types

of laws

2 types

of laws

1 type

of law

None of

these

laws

ME

WI

VT

NH

WA

ID

MT

ND

MN

IL

MI

NY

MA

OR

NV

WY

SD

IA

IN

OH

PA

NJ

CT

RI

CA

UT

CO

NE

MO

KY

WV

VA

MD

DE

AZ

NM

KS

AR

TN

NC

SC

DC

OK

LA

MS

AL

GA

HI

AK

TX

FL

Idaho and Montana do not have any firearm laws regarding universal background checks, prohibiting high-risk posessors, or banning the use of assault or high-capacity guns.

California, along with New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and the District of Columbia, has the strictest firearm laws in the nation.

Virginia has two of the five firearms laws and generally has some of the loosest gun restriction laws in the country.

States with:

5 types

of laws

4 types

of laws

3 types

of laws

2 types

of laws

1 type

of law

None of

these

laws

Idaho and Montana do not have any firearm laws regarding universal background checks, prohibiting high-risk posessors, or banning the use of assault or high-capacity guns.

California, along with New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and the District of Columbia, has the strictest firearm laws in the nation.

ME

WI

VT

NH

WA

ID

MT

ND

MN

IL

MI

NY

MA

OR

NV

WY

SD

IA

IN

OH

PA

NJ

CT

RI

CA

UT

CO

NE

MO

KY

WV

VA

MD

DE

AZ

NM

KS

AR

TN

NC

SC

DC

Virginia has two of the five firearms laws and generally has some of the loosest gun restriction laws in the country.

OK

LA

MS

AL

GA

HI

AK

TX

FL

States with:

5 types

of laws

4 types

of laws

3 types

of laws

2 types

of laws

1 type

of law

None of

these

laws

Idaho and Montana do not have any firearm laws regarding universal background checks, prohibiting high-risk posessors, or banning the use of assault or high-capacity guns.

ME

WI

VT

NH

WA

ID

MT

ND

MN

IL

MI

NY

MA

OR

NV

WY

SD

IA

IN

OH

PA

NJ

CT

RI

CA

UT

CO

NE

MO

KY

WV

VA

MD

DE

AZ

NM

KS

AR

TN

NC

SC

DC

California, along with New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and the District of Columbia, has the strictest firearm laws in the nation.

OK

LA

MS

AL

GA

Virginia has two of the five firearms laws and generally has some of the loosest gun restriction laws in the country.

HI

AK

TX

FL

Two states had none of these forms of gun control while six had all five.

What are assault weapons and high-capacity magazines?

High-capacity or large-capacity magazines are defined as magazines that hold a large amount of ammunition, allowing the gun to be fired many times without pausing to reload. (A magazine is the chamber that stores ammunition and feeds it into the firearm.)

The definition of a military-style assault weapon can vary by state, but in general it means any semi-automatic weapon that includes features or attachments “that appear useful in military and criminal applications but unnecessary in shooting sports or self-defense,” according to an assessment of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban.

In all but six states and the District of Columbia, it's legal to sell, transfer and possess military-style semi-automatic assault weapons, including assault rifles and pistols. In all but seven states and the District, it's also legal to purchase high-capacity magazines.

Among other forms of gun control, the most widely enacted is restrictions on possession of a firearm by high-risk individuals, including individuals with criminal records, mental health or substance abuse issues.

What types of legislation exists in states?

Assault weapons ban

State prohibits the sale of assault weapons. Congress banned assault weapons nationally in 1994, but the ban expired in 2004.

High-capacity magazine ban

State bans the sale of assault pistol ammunition and other high-capacity magazines.

Prohibitions for high-risk individuals

Firearm possession is prohibited for those convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor, those with a history of mental health, drug or alcohol issues, or those considered by the court to be dangerous.

Prohibitions for individuals with domestic violence convictions

Firearm possession is prohibited for those convicted of domestic violence, those with a domestic violence-related restraining order or those convicted of stalking.

Mandatory universal background checks

State requires a background check either at the point of purchase or through a permit requirement, including sales through private dealers and at gun shows.

“Background checks are making the biggest impacts” on reducing gun fatalities, according to Bindu Kalesan, director of Boston University's Center for Clinical Translational Epidemiology and Comparative Effectiveness Research, who authored a 2016 study on the effectiveness of gun policy measures.

However, even among states with thorough background check laws, reciprocity agreements between states undercut the ability of individual states to manage the flow of firearms into their borders. Without “comprehensive guns laws we're not going to be able to start making progress,” Kalesan said.

Where each state stands on gun control legislation

State Assault weapons ban High-capacity magazines ban Prohibitions for high-risk individuals Prohibitions for individuals with domestic violence convictions Mandatory universal background checks
District of Columbia
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

Note: This story was updated on Jun 21 to clarify that the category "Mandatory background checks" refers to background checks in excess of those federally required by the Brady Law, which licensed firearms dealers in every state must conduct. To be included in this category, states must mandate a number of additional measures, such as searches of mental health records and complete background checks on all firearm sales and transfers, including purchases from private individuals and at gun shows.

About this story

State-by-state firearm law data comes from the Boston University School of Public Health State Firearm Law database. Information is current as of January 2017.

In states with laws prohibiting high-risk possessors, firearm possession is prohibited for those convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor, those with a history of mental health, drug or alcohol issues, or those considered by the court to be dangerous. In states with domestic violence-related laws, firearm possession is prohibited for those convicted of domestic violence, those with a domestic violence-related restraining order or those convicted of stalking. In states with background check laws, firearm possession requires a background check either at the point of purchase or through a permit requirement.

The State Firearm Law database does not include data for the District of Columbia. Data for D.C. was compiled from the D.C. Firearm Registration General Requirements and Smart Gun Laws by-state information.

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