As an Arizona resident, it does my heart good to see my state top Guns & Ammo's assessment of the very bestest states for gun owners in 2014. Across several categories Arizona scores well by simply leaving people alone and respecting their right to own, use, buy, and sell firearms for fun, hunting, and self-defense.
The ratings are based on state laws' respect for the right to carry, treatment of modern sporting rifles (that's scary assault weapons to you know who), National Firearms Act of 1934-regulated weapons such as machine guns and suppressors, and castle doctrine. There are also miscellaneous considerations, such as state firearm law preemption, registration requirements, and the like.
When it comes to Arizona, Guns & Ammo says:
Class 3/NFA: 9
Castle Doctrine: 10
It was a tight race for the top spot, but it came down to the intangibles. The Grand Canyon State takes the top spot again this year, and for good reason. It has the most well-established competitive shooting scene in the nation and a culture that embraces shooters and the shooting sports. Arizona is the home of Gunsite, the nation's oldest and best known private shooting school; the 1,650-acre Ben Avery shooting facilty; as well as numerous firearm manufacturers including Ruger. Concealed and open carry are legal without a permit, and the state also issues permits to residents who travel outside the state. CCW permits from all other states are recognized. Arizona does not restrict legally possessed NFA items, magazines or MSRs.
Guns are just part of the environment here, with a holstered pistol a common sight on people's hips. I attended a dinner party recently which included, at one point, attendees comparing their carry pistols, laid out on the table. Like many residents I rarely go anyplace without a gun secreted somewhere on my person.
Then again, I could say the same of my activity when I lived in Manhattan. I rarely went anywhere without a gun in my pocket, and I felt a hell of a lot safer for it, especially walking back from work at night to my apartment on 4th Street and Avenue B, which wasn't quite as upscale at the time as it is now. But, I was in fact breaking the law—New York comes in at a well-deserved 50 in the gun rights rankings (only the District of Columbia ranks lower). Says Guns & Ammo:
50. New York
Class 3/NFA: 0
Castle Doctrine: 3
April 15, 2014, saw the deadline for registration of firearms deemed "assault weapons" under the 2013 "SAFE Act." One of the most restrictive gun control schemes in the nation became slightly less restrictive when a judge tossed out the ban on magazines holding more than seven rounds as "arbitrary." Ownership of MSRs is tightly regulated in N.Y., and magazine capacities are limited to 10 rounds. The purchase of a handgun requires a license, the issue of which is solely at the discretion of the issuing authority — these licenses also restrict where the purchaser can possess a handgun. Licenses to carry a concealed firearm are issued on a "may-issue" basis and are difficult to obtain, especially in New York City. Loaded rifles or shotguns cannot be transported in vehicles. NFA items are strictly forbidden.
Add in the picturesque views and the medical marijuana, and Arizona is an easy state to like. If you like being left alone.