Wyoming probably loves guns more than anything else. 

More than chocolate, rodeo, horses, University of Wyoming sports teams or Yellowstone National Park.

And according to a CBS news report, Wyoming loves guns more than anybody else in the United States.

If someone asked you to rank the states (plus the District of Columbia) based on how many guns were registered per capita without consulting data, which ones would you put on top?

Wyoming wins.

In fact, Wyoming has 300 percent more guns than the second-ranked location, which might surprise some as D.C., not Montana (tied for 25th), Alaska (ninth) or Idaho (sixth).

Ranked No. 51, with the least number of guns per capita, is New York. The rate is 3.3 guns per 1,000 residents, or about 64,000 guns for about 20 million people.

Rhode Island and Delaware are low on the list, which might have been easy to guess. The first surprise was Michigan being just 48th. Michigan has a very large number of hunters.

Montana is actually tied with Connecticut, which is counter intuitive. Texas is just 19th with a rate of 12.8 guns per 1,000. Maybe Texas Rangers were overlooked. 

Other states with large numbers of gun owners are No. 3 Arkansas with 41.6 guns per 1,000 residents, No. 4 New Mexico and No. 5 Virginia. Maryland is No. 11, meaning the nation’s capital, encompassing D.C. and Maryland and Virginia suburbs, is about as heavily armed as it was during the War of 1812.

What is going on there?

When this was mentioned to someone she suggested all politicians must have armed bodyguards. Or was it all the military guys stationed at the Pentagon? It is probably not because there are a large percentage of elk hunters in the neighborhood.

It makes you wonder if heated debates in Congress over healthcare reform and tax cuts might conclude with gunfights at high noon.

So D.C. was listed as having the second highest rate of gun ownership in the US of A at 66.4 guns per 1,000 people, or 42,897 firearms spread among 646,449 people.

The District just kills Arkansas.

But everybody, from the District to California to Georgia to Maine, are so far out of the statistical picture they can’t see Wyoming with binoculars.

If you want to own a gun, shoot a gun or merely fondle a gun come to Wyoming. You can light cigarettes with a .45. You can start campfires with rifle fire. Thank Butch Cassidy and his pards for the atmospheric conditions.

The rate of gun ownership of 195.7 per 1,000 residents is three times D.C. There are 114,052 registered firearms in the Cowboy State where 582,658 people live.

And that doesn’t include the probably overlooked 7,000 or so in the Cody Firearms Museum. 

The Firearms Museum could be the O’Reilly Auto Parts store of the gun world if it wished since it also has 30,000-plus firearms-related artifacts in its inventory, likely including everything from bullets to shooting sticks.

Fair warning. Don’t make anyone in Wyoming choose between a lethal weapon or Old Paint, or a firearm and a Ghirardelli bar.

(6) comments


Lew, I've been seeing that CBS story online for months - it's like the bad penny you can never get rid of. It is very misleading and poorly written, and people with every imaginable perspective on firearms get spun up for no reason. The only firearms counted in this story are federally registered, National Firearms Act weapons (and other NFA devices like sound suppressors, which aren't even firearms), because as Scott Weber points out, there is no other type of firearms registration in Wyoming, or many other states. So all they are counting are the exotic automatic weapons, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, etc. which are held (in very small numbers) by (mostly very wealthy) collectors, and which are so tightly controlled that they have, historically, never been used in any form of criminal activity. The relative ownership stats in the article have no bearing on the ownership of "normal" firearms that regular folks have for recreation, competition, hunting, and self-defense - which are not even counted. All CBS is telling us is where there are relatively higher concentrations of well-heeled firearms collectors, which explains the apparent anomaly of high numbers in D.C. and firearms-unfriendly states, and which is of zero significance in any debate over firearms ownership and use, gun rights, and the Second Amendment.

Gunrunner Auctions

I wonder if this Dewy V has ever heard of the Second Amendment. Last time I checked we cover the Bill of Rights in high school....


" There is no nut like a gun nut " - Nietzche
"Love of guns is sick. " - me


Having the highest per capita ownership of guns of any state in the union is nothing to be proud of. At all. We may be one country, but are not of one mind. Especially on guns. By extension, if other states and/or major metropolitan areas had the same per capita gun ownership as Wyoming, it would unequivocally be an epidemic of public health pathognomonics. That's a fancy way of saying way more people would be dying of gun violence. It would be a firm diagnosis of mental illness or at the least a pandemic of neuroses, but that topic is taboo Out West and here in Cody. Regardless of geolocation, having unrestricted ownership of guns is no different than getting a bad case of Shingles. You already have the virus (same as chicken pox) but only a third of you will get the disease outright. The only preventiuon is vaccination, which in this case means getting rid of guns. QED.

(Edited by staff.)

The Gunrunner

Lew, I don't know if the forest fire smoke is clouding your research, but there is no such thing as "registered firearms" in Wyoming. Hmmm... I wonder where you are getting the figure for Wyoming gun ownership. Even ATF would tell you there is no way to have a known figure for number of firearms in the Cowboy State (or any state for that matter) given that the ATF does not "count" firearms and would have no way of doing so. The ATF might be able to tell how many firearms were checked through the FBI data base, but that is a small figure when compared to the number of firearms sold at gun shows and private treaty. There were 27 million NEW firearms manufactured in the US last year, but not all sold. ATF estimates of firearms in the US is somewhere between 440 and 500 million, so that's a firearm for nearly every man, woman and child. I was talking to Ted Kopple when he was here last year for a TV special about Cody's "gun culture" (a liberal term if I've ever heard of one!) and I said to him that I thought Cody had more guns per capita than any other town given that the BBCOW has 7,000 firearms and as a guy who in the gun industry I KNOW of MANY people in Cody with over 500 guns per man. He seemed taken back with those numbers, but that's a New York liberal for ya... Yes, we LOVE guns here in Wyoming and crime is nearly non-existent here. Take Chicago for instance - "murder capital of the world" and they have NO gun stores in their city and the strictest gun control laws with the most anti-Second Amendment mayor in the country. Hmmmm.... Go figure. More guns, less crime.


You shared my immediate reaction to this "opinion" completely - no gun registration....no way to know. I have guns...I have no idea anymore between my husband and myself how many we own anymore. I don't "love" guns...I love my creator, my family, my friends, our clean environment and sparse population in Wyoming and my rights as a law-abiding citizen. I don't "take advantage" of all my rights because some are of no use or interest to me. I think a better wording of this would be we are proud of and are responsible regarding our rights granted us by the Bill of Rights.

As far as Chicago and surrounding suburbs go, many of the suburbs have outlawed at the very least handgun possession...period. Yet, is probably the easiest place to buy one...if you don't care about quality or if it's been involved in a crime.

I love our culture in Wyoming. Have lived here nearly my entire life and all my kids born in Wyoming and all grown and the couple who left for any length of time have long since returned "home" to raise THEIR families in a culture that is very much self-governed, not a political machine state, and has clean air, & has far less violent crime per capita than probably anywhere else in USA. Yet has the highest number of guns per capita according to a junk survey. But...We probably do!! But we value our freedom. So they are tools to us.

Last note, of all the kids who have guns in their possession and often access to even more, how many school shootings have we had in these days, where it is not even unusual to hear of another one? NOT A ONE!! And while my kids (now in early to mid-30s) were in school it was common to see rifles in racks of pickups parked in student parking. As WELL as personnel parking. So the means was RIGHT THERE. But the"taboo" of handling and using a gun was never an issue, so the thoughts of such horrific violence just never crossed there minds. On weekends if my kids wanted to go shooting (as young children) I loaded them up with the rifles and handguns they wanted to shoot, and we went shooting! No sneaking around, and my boys all knew how to field strip them as well as properly clean them by the time they were 12-13 years old. So although "LOVE" guns isn't a term I would use to describe my feelings, I appreciate having them as a tool, for recreation, for hunting (even my only daughter and now HER children hunt - for which this mama/grandma is exceptionally proud to hear of a good, clean hunt & kill), I wouldn't part with my guns any more than I'd allow someone to take my hammer, baseball bat, carving knives, or motor vehicles away - which all kill at LEAST as efficiently lethal as any gun.

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