Crystal Smith of Ashburn handles a pistol at the Nation's Gun Show in April in Chatilly, Va. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

At the federal level, there's little to no movement to change the nation's gun laws one way or the other.

But there's lots of movement at the state level -- both to limit gun access and to expand it. This past legislative session, gun control advocates celebrated the passage of bills across the country limiting domestic violence abusers' access to guns. Meanwhile, gun rights supporters celebrated a slew of bills expanding when and how people can carry guns (like into schools and on to university campuses).

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a nonprofit group that supports gun control, keeps close track of all this. Every year, it ranks states' gun laws, which vary widely and are increasingly influenced by local politics. (Not surprisingly, states with Republican leaders tend to limit gun control, and vice-versa for states with Democratic leaders.)

We used the center's most recent rankings (from the 2014 legislative session) to find out which three states have the strictest gun laws on record and which three states have the most lax gun laws.

Notably, according to this data, the strictest state in the nation is California, where two attackers killed 14 people and injured 21 at an office holiday party in San Bernardino on Wednesday.

It's far from definitive as to whether strict state gun laws reduce gun violence, including mass shootings. The Washington Post's Fact Checker team gave President Obama two out of four Pinocchios (four being the most truth-bending ranking) for implying as much after an October shooting at an Oregon community college that killed nine.

Some studies and analyses seem bear out that stricter gun laws mean fewer deaths, fact-checker Glenn Kessler wrote, but the results are inconclusive and subjective: There's even a debate about which gun laws to count, and pro-gun groups say it's tough to prove a cause and effect between stricter gun laws and lower gun violence.

But state gun laws are still the best measure we have for a society's approach to gun violence. According to The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence's measures, here are the states and their laws:

States with the strictest gun laws

1. California

If you're a gun owner in California, you must:

  • Pass a universal background check, no matter where you buy your gun
  • Wait at least 10 days to receive that gun (the idea here is to give law enforcement enough time to conduct the background check)
  • Get your handgun microstamped, which means the make, model and serial number of the gun is transferred to each cartridge case every time the gun is fired (the idea is to allow police at a crime scene to trace a gun back to its owner)
  • Take and pass a written safety test

You can't:

  • Own most assault weapons or buy and sell large-capacity ammunition magazines or .50 caliber rifles
  • Buy your gun through a private sale, like online or via a friend, without first going through a licensed dealer (and thus getting a background check)
  • Buy more than one handgun a month
2. Connecticut

If you're a gun owner in Connecticut, you must:

  • Get a background check before buying a gun from an unlicensed firearm dealer (like a private sale)
  • Get a background check if you buy your gun at a gun show
  • Apply for and receive an eligibility certificate before you buy a hand gun, a long gun and/or ammunition
  • Agree to go through those background checks by the state of Connecticut, not just the FBI
  • Wait two weeks to receive the gun you just bought
  • Report the loss or theft of your gun

You can't:

  • Transfer assault weapons, large capacity ammunition magazines and certain .50 caliber rifles (though you can own them)
3. New Jersey

If you're a gun owner in New Jersey, you must:

  • Acquire a permit before buying a handgun and pass a background check
  • Acquire a separate permit before buying a long gun and pass a background check
  • Agree to let local police use discretion when deciding whether to give you a conceal and carry permit
  • Agree to let firearm and ammunition sellers maintain records of their sales
  • Wait seven days before receiving the gun you just bought
  • Once the technology is approved for retail sale, have your gun personalized so that only you can fire it

You can't:

  • Buy as many handguns per month as you want
  • Own or transfer assault weapons or large capacity ammunition magazines
  • Buy or own a gun if you've been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence or are subject to a
    protective order

States with the loosest gun laws

1. Louisiana

If you're a gun owner in Louisiana, you can:

  • Buy a firearm online or in a private sale without first going through a background check
  • Transfer and own assault weapons, .50 caliber rifles and large capacity ammunition magazines

You can't:

  • Buy a gun if you're convicted of domestic abuse within the past decade or are under a protective order

And you don't have to:

  • Be licensed to own or buy a gun or ammunition
  • Register your firearm
  • Fall under the discretion of local law enforcement when applying for a concealed handgun permit
  • If you're a firearm dealer, register for a license
2. Mississippi

If you're a gun owner in Mississippi, you can:

  • Buy a firearm online or in a private sale without first going through a background check
  • Transfer and own assault weapons, .50 caliber rifles and large capacity ammunition magazines
  • Buy as many firearms as you want at once

You don't have to:

  • Be licensed to own or buy a gun or ammunition
  • Register your firearm
  • If you want to be or are a firearm dealer, you don't have to register for a license (only pay a $100 "privilege tax")
3. Arizona

If you're a gun owner in Arizona, you can:

  • Buy a firearm online or in a private sale without first going through a background check
  • Transfer and own assault weapons, .50 caliber rifles and large capacity ammunition magazine
  • Buy as many firearms as you want at once
  • Carry a concealed gun in public without a permit

You don't have to:

  • Go through a waiting period before receiving your firearm