When it comes to measuring gun ownership percentages by state, WorldPopulationReview.com lists Alaska at the top. And Delaware all the way at the bottom.
These figures, though, don’t really tell the true story. 40% of Alaska’s 731,000 residents live in and around Anchorage. The rest, approximately 450,000, live in small towns surrounded by vast tracks of wilderness filled with big game. For many residents, hunting is both a sport and a way to supplement the family diet. It’s not surprising, then, that a lot of Alaskan own guns. In fact, living in rural Alaska without a gun to defend against potential wild animal threats would seem foolhardy.
The point is, don’t assume that “gun” means handgun or sawed-off shotgun. For a place like Alaska, it’s far more likely that a gun owner has a hunting rifle than a pistol. And that they fire it in sport rather than in anger.
In contrast, Delaware is a small state but it has a population 1/3 larger than Alaska’s. In 2016, USA Today ranked it as the 5th easiest state in which to purchase a gun. Although background checks are required for most gun purchases, there is an exception made for shotguns. And no permits are required. So why do they have the lowest percentage? Perhaps because 83.3% of the population lives in urban areas, according to the 2010 census. And perhaps the vast majority of urban residents don’t feel the need to arm themselves. Those are just conjectures, though.
For information about the number of gun homicides per state, refer to our article Firearm Deaths per 100K People per State.