How the Gun Ownership Rate in South Carolina Compares to Other States



To much of the world, the United States is a country defined, at least in part, by its gun culture. And with good reason. The U.S., along with Guatemala and Mexico, is one of only three countries in which gun ownership is a constitutional right. Even more telling, according to a 2020 study by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the U.S. is home to an estimated 433.9 million civilian-owned firearms, equal to about 1.3 guns for every American. No other country comes close to having that many guns, let alone more guns than people.

However, not all Americans are gun owners. Far from it, in fact. According to a 2020 study published by the RAND Corporation, a research and public policy advocacy group, only about 32% of American households own a firearm. Therefore, based on the total number of guns in the U.S. many gun-owning households likely own far more than one.

At the state level, gun ownership rates vary considerably. In some parts of the country, fewer than one in every 10 households own at least one firearm. In others, meanwhile, well over half of all households do.

According to RAND Corporation estimates, approximately 45.0% of households in South Carolina own at least one gun, the 20th highest gun ownership rate among the 50 states.

Gun control laws vary considerably at the state level, and in states with the tightest restrictions, firearms can be harder to obtain. On an A to F scale – with A representing the strongest gun control laws and F the weakest – gun violence prevention group Giffords Law Center assigns South Carolina an F for its gun control policies.

All data in this story is from the RAND Corporation and the Annual Gun Law Scorecard, published by the Giffords Law Center.

RankStateGun ownership rate (%)Gun control grade (A-F)Firearm deaths per 100,000 people in 20211Montana65.0F25.12Wyoming60.7F26.13West Virginia60.0F17.34Idaho57.8F16.35Alaska57.2F25.26South Dakota55.0F14.37Oklahoma54.9F21.28Mississippi54.1F33.99North Dakota53.3F16.810Alabama52.8F26.411Missouri52.8F23.212Kentucky52.5F21.113Louisiana52.3F29.114Arkansas51.8F23.315Vermont50.3C-11.916Maine47.7F12.617Wisconsin47.1D+13.518Tennessee46.9F22.819New Hampshire46.3F8.320South Carolina45.0F22.421Indiana42.4F18.422Kansas42.3F17.323Ohio41.9F16.524Oregon41.4B+14.925Pennsylvania40.2B-14.826Utah39.7F13.927Nebraska39.2C10.328Minnesota39.1C+10.029Michigan38.9C+15.430Delaware38.7B16.631Iowa38.5F11.232Colorado37.9B17.833Georgia37.7F20.334North Carolina37.1C17.335Arizona36.0F18.336New Mexico35.9C+27.837Texas35.5F15.638Virginia35.3B14.339Nevada32.9C+19.840Washington32.1B+11.241Florida28.8C-14.142Illinois22.6A-16.143Connecticut18.8A-6.744Maryland16.7A-15.245California16.3A9.046New York14.5A-5.447Rhode Island13.9B+5.648Hawaii9.1A-4.849Massachusetts9.0A-3.450New Jersey8.9A5.2

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