Miss New York Mallory Hytes Hagan, a 23-year-old native of Brooklyn, was crowned Miss America late Saturday, beating rivals from all 50 US states.
Hagan appeared to have won over the jury when asked if armed guards should be place in schools in the wake of last month's deadly shooting spree in Newtown, Connecticut.
Violence should not be fought with violence, she replied.
Twenty elementary school students and six teachers were killed in Newtown when a gunman opened fire inside a local school.
Hagan competes in the swimsuit competition during the final Miss America pageant.
As Miss America, Hagan will receive a $50 000 scholarship and will spend a year speaking and raising money for the Children's Miracle Network, the pageant's official charity.
The pageant, which included the traditional contests of young women in swimsuits, evening gowns, as well as talent and interview competitions, was held at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
The runner-ups were second-placed Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers, and Miss Oklahoma Alicia Clifton, in third.