Know your state's gun regulations

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Know your state's gun regulations

A look at some current gun control laws, as well as the weapons most commonly used to commit murder. See gallery

States differ on many regulation issues, including background checks at gun shows, concealment permits, the number of rounds allowed in high-capacity magazines and the definition of assault weapons.

New York just became the first state in the nation to pass gun control legislation since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. 

Check out the new gun regulations in New York.

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Your state on gun show background checks

The vast majority of states do not require background checks when firearms are purchased at gun shows.

Definition
Advocates of stricter gun control argue that one of the biggest regulatory gaps relates to gun shows, where weapons can often be purchased from private sellers without the background checks a buyer faces in an established gun store.

Analysis
White House spokesman Jay Carney says President Barack Obama would support legislation to close the gun show loophole, but so far, most talk about restrictions has centered on banning assault weapons.

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Your state on assault weapons

The vast majority of states have no restrictions on what are called assault weapons.

Definition
While the term is often used, there is no one definition of what constitutes an assault weapon. Depending on who is doing the defining, assault weapons can be fully automatic or semi-automatic, handguns or longer guns like rifles.

Analysis
Congress banned assault weapons from 1994 to 2004, but there were many loopholes — weapons purchased before the ban could still be possessed and sold, for example — and in general, the ban’s effectiveness was sharply debated. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat, has said she plans to introduce new legislation in early 2013 to ban assault weapons in the state.

States with mandatory checks for assault weapons:

  • California
    Illegal to possess, import or purchase assault weapons and .50 BMG rifles, unless weapons were acquired by the owner prior to June 1, 1989.

  • Colorado
    In Denver, the sale and possession of assault weapons are banned, including "semi-automatic action" weapons and magazines with 21 or more rounds.

  • Minnesota
    People under 21 are prohibited from purchasing "military-style" weapons.

  • Illinois
    Cook County and the city of Chicago ban the possession of assault weapons.

  • New York
    Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law a sweeping package of gun-control measures on January 16, 2013. The new laws significantly expand a ban on assault weapons and make New York the first state to change its laws in response to the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting. It further restricts assault weapons to define them by a single feature, such as a pistol grip. Current law requires two features. The law also makes the unsafe storage of assault weapons a misdemeanor.

  • New Jersey
    Assault weapons are allowed with a license.
  • Connecticut
    Partial ban includes selective fire weapons, some .50 BMG rifles, weapons with specific restricted features and listed brands of semi-automatic assault weapons.

  • Hawaii
    The state bans the sale and possession of what are defined as "assault pistols."

 

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Your state on high-capacity magazines

The majority of states do not have restrictions on high-capacity magazines, which have a capacity of more than 10 cartridges.

Definition
High-capacity magazines allow a shooter to fire several bullets in just seconds. Jared Lee Loughner, the Arizona shooter who killed several people and injured Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in January 2011, fired several rounds in less than a minute with his Glock 19 handgun, thanks to its high-capacity magazine. He was tackled when he stopped to reload. 

Analysis
High-capacity magazines were prohibited between 1994 and 2004 under the assault weapons ban, and will likely be a central part of the gun control debate. Most talk centers on limiting the number of bullets per magazine to nine or 10.

High-capacity magazine restrictions by state:

  • California
    Ammunition magazines with no more than a 10-round capacity are allowed.
  • Hawaii
    Ammunition magazines with no more than a 10-round capacity are allowed. The law only applies to handguns.
  • New Mexico
    Ammunition magazines with no more than a 10-round capacity are allowed.
  • New York
    If New York's new legislation restricts ammunition magazines to seven bullets (current national standard is 10). Those currently owning higher-capacity magazines have a year to sell them out of state. Anyone caught with eight or more bullets faces a misdemeanor charge.
  • Illinois
    Ammunition magazines with no more than a 10- or 12-round capacity are allowed.
  • Maryland
    Ammunition magazines with no more than a 20-round capacity allowed.
  • New Jersey
    Ammunition magazines with no more than a 15-round capacity allowed.
  • Massachusetts
    Ammunition magazines with no more than a 10-round capacity allowed.
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Your state on concealed carry permits

Almost all states require a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Carrying a concealed weapon is prohibited in Washington, D.C., and Illinois. 

States that do not require concealed carry permits:

  • Arizona
    Any person 21 years of age or older who is not a "prohibited possessor" may carry a weapon openly or concealed without a license.
  • Alaska
    Any person 21 years of age or older may carry a concealed handgun provided that, when contacted by a police officer, the carrier informs the officer of that possession.
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Type of weapon used to kill

In the United States, of murders in which a weapon is used, 68 percent are committed with a firearm.

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Type of firearm used to kill

At 72 percent, handguns are the firearm most commonly used to commit murder in the United States.