Updated Apr 28, 2023 - Politics & Policy

10 states with laws restricting assault weapons

Photo of AR-15 rifles hanging on display at a store

AR-15 rifles for sale at Knob Creek Gun Range in West Point, Kentucky on July 22, 2021. Firearm sales have reached a near-record pace of well over 1 million a month, according to Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting. Photo: Jon Cherry/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ten states in the U.S. now have assault-style weapons bans after Washington became the latest to enact restrictions this week.

The big picture: Government officials have faced increasing calls to crack down on assault weapons — semi-automatic, military-style firearms primarily designed for rapid fire and combat use, which have been linked to some of the deadliest mass shootings in the U.S in the past decade.

Context: California became the first state to enact a ban on assault-style weapons in 1990. Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York followed suit.

  • Each state delineates its own definition of assault-style weapons in its laws. But the term generally covers the same types of firearms, such as the AR-15-style rifle used in the Uvalde and Highland Park shootings last year.
  • The District of Columbia has had restrictions in place dating back to 1932.
  • Several states have faced lawsuits over the bans, however.

Worth noting: Congress passed a 10-year ban on assault weapons in 1994. A 2019 study found that mass-shooting fatalities were 70% less likely to occur during this period.


  • Barring limited exceptions, California prohibits any possession of an assault weapon unless someone already owned it lawfully prior to the restrictions and had it registered with the state Department of Justice.
  • California additionally bans people from manufacturing, distributing, transporting, importing, giving or lending any assault weapon within the state. Keeping or offering assault weapons for sale also violates the law.


  • Connecticut similarly bars possession of an assault weapon unless the owner lawfully possessed it prior to the ban and registered it.
  • State law also prohibits transporting, importing and giving assault weapons, with a few exceptions. Keeping or offering an assault weapon for sale is not allowed.



  • Hawaii prohibits the manufacture, possession, sale, giving, transfer or acquisition of assault weapons.
  • State law bars any person from installing, removing or altering a firearm or firearm part with the intent to convert it into an automatic firearm.


  • Maryland bars the possession, sale, transfer, purchase and receipt of assault weapons unless it was already lawfully owned prior to the ban.
  • People in the state are not allowed to offer them for sale or transport them into Maryland.


  • Barring a license, Massachusetts law prohibits the sale and possession of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines unless they were lawfully owned prior to the ban.
  • Dealers are also barred from selling, leasing, renting, transferring, delivering or offering for those purposes any assault weapon or large-capacity feeding device.

New Jersey

  • Barring a license, New Jersey bans the possession, manufacturing, transportation, sale, shipping, transfer and giving of assault weapons, including semi-automatic shotguns that contains a magazine capacity with more than six rounds.
  • The possession of a part or combination of parts intended to convert a firearm into an assault weapon is also barred.

New York

  • New York bans people from possessing, manufacturing, transporting, selling, shipping, transferring and giving assault weapons within the state.
  • The law doesn't apply to people who lawfully owned the firearm prior to the ban and registered it within the specified time period.


  • Illinois prohibits the sale and distribution of assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and switches
  • State law also requires current owners of semi-automatic rifles to register them.


  • Washington bans the sale, manufacturing, and distribution of more than 50 specific types of semiautomatic firearms, including AR-15s.
  • The ban also applies to all semiautomatic rifles less than 30 inches in length as well as other semiautomatic firearms with features like thumbhole stocks and additional hand grips.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional developments.

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