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States with Higher Gun Ownership and Weak Gun Laws Lead Nation in Gun Death

Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi, and Nevada Have Highest Gun Death Rates

Washington, DC–States with higher gun ownership rates and weak gun laws have the highest rates of gun death according to a new analysis by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) of just-released 2006 national data (the most recent available) from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

The analysis reveals that the five states with the highest per capita gun death rates were Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi, and Nevada. Each of these states had a per capita gun death rate far exceeding the national per capita gun death rate of 10.32 per 100,000 for 2006. Each state has lax gun laws and higher gun ownership rates. By contrast, states with strong gun laws and low rates of gun ownership had far lower rates of firearm-related death. Ranking last in the nation for gun death was Hawaii, followed by Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York. (See chart below for top and bottom five states. See for a ranking of all 50 states.)

States with the Five Highest Gun Death Rates

States with the Five Lowest Gun Death Rates



Household Gun Ownership Gun Death Rate per 100,000 Rank State Household Gun Ownership Gun Death Rate per 100,000
1 Louisiana 45.6 percent 19.58 50 Hawaii 9.7 percent 2.58
2 Alabama 57.2 percent 16.99 49 Massachusetts 12.8 percent 3.28
3 (tie) Alaska 60.6 percent 16.38 48 Rhode Island 13.3 percent 4.43
3 (tie) Mississippi 54.3 percent 16.38 47 Connecticut 16.2 percent 4.95
5 Nevada 31.5 percent 16.25 46 New York 18.1 percent 5.20

VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, "More guns means more gun death and injury. Fewer guns means less gun death and injury. It's a simple equation."

The VPC defined states with "weak" gun laws as those that add little or nothing to federal restrictions and have permissive concealed carry laws allowing civilians to carry concealed handguns. States with "strong" gun laws were defined as those that add significant state regulation in addition to federal law, such as restricting access to particularly hazardous types of firearms (for example, assault weapons), setting minimum safety standards for firearms and/or requiring a permit to purchase a firearm, and have restrictive concealed carry laws.

The Violence Policy Center is a national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals. The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related death and injury.

   For Release:
   Wednesday, May 6, 2009

   Mandy Wimmer
   Violence Policy Center
   (202) 822-8200 x110