Vermont and Arizona don't have a whole lot in common. The Grand Canyon State has blazing hot deserts, we shoveled out our cars on the first day of spring. They're mostly red, we're deep blue. They've got scorpions, we've got moose. So what links our two states, apparent opposites geographically and politically? Gun rights.
Guns & Ammo magazine released its list of the best and worst states for gun owners last week, and Vermont tied with Arizona at the top of the heap. The magazine's graphic, at right, confusingly says Vermont is number 2 and places the state in the crosshairs (why shoot Vermont if it's awesome for guns?), but the Green Mountain State and the Grand Canyon State are level on points atop the list. Each came one point short of a perfect score.
Each state received a score out of 10 in each of the following categories:
CCW/Open Carry: States that don’t require a permit for concealed or open carry scored a perfect 10 in this category. Everybody else was judged accordingly.
MSRs: States with no restrictions on the kind, type or number of modern sporting rifles (ARs, AKs, etc.) that can be owned or purchased scored a 10 in this category.
Class 3/NFA: The majority of states allow their citizens to own Class 3/NFA-type firearms (machine guns, suppressors, short-barreled rifles, etc.), provided they follow the federal licensing standard, but not every state is yea or nay.
Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground: States’ scores were determined based on how strong your law is regarding self-defense in and out of the home, and whether in the right you’re immune from civil prosecution.
Miscellaneous: How pro-gun the state culture is has a lot to do with scoring in this category. Scores are based on the percentage of gun owners in the state, if there are any restrictions on gun or ammunition purchases or magazine capacity, pending pro- or anti-gun legislation, CCW reciprocity, and any restrictions on guns that [are] not covered in the other categories.
Guns & Ammo praises Vermont's lack of ammunition restrictions and concealed carry requirements. The only thing holding the state back from a perfect score was a lack of specific laws about Castle Doctrine, a.k.a. the right of a person to use deadly force to defend against a home intruder. And though the list was compiled before this legislative session's pending gun control legislation petered out, that didn't affect Vermont's "miscellanenous" score — maybe they knew that, like most such laws proposed here, it wasn't going anywhere.
Our neighbors in New Hampshire also landed in the top 10, securing a score of 47. Across the lake, New York didn't fare as well — the Empire State has a score of just seven. Only Washington, D.C., which got a big fat zero, is lower on the list.