States with Weak Gun Laws and Higher Gun Ownership Lead Nation in Gun Deaths, New Data for 2014 Confirms

For Release: Monday, January 4, 2016

Alaska, Louisiana Have Highest Gun Death Rates in the Nation; Hawaii, Rhode Island Have Lowest

Washington, DC — Newly available data for 2014 reveals that states with weak gun violence prevention laws and higher rates of gun ownership have the highest overall gun death rates in the nation, according to a Violence Policy Center (VPC) analysis of just-released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

In addition, states with the lowest overall gun death rates have lower rates of gun ownership and some of the strongest gun violence prevention laws in the nation. However, even in these states the human toll of gun violence is far above the gun death rate in other industrialized nations.

The VPC analysis refers to overall gun death rates in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available. The deaths include gun homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings. A table of the states with the five highest gun death rates and the five lowest gun death rates is below. For a list of gun death rates in all 50 states, see http://www.vpc.org/fact-sheets/state-firearm-death-rates-ranked-by-rate-2014/.

States with the Five Highest Gun Death Rates

States with the Five Lowest Gun Death Rates

Rank

State

Household Gun Ownership Gun Death Rate per 100,000 Rank State Household Gun Ownership Gun Death Rate per 100,000
1 Alaska 56.4 percent 19.68 50 Hawaii 12.5 percent 2.82
2 Louisiana 49.0 percent 19.27 49 Rhode Island 15.9 percent 3.22
3 Mississippi 54.3 percent 18.27 48 Massachusetts 14.3 percent 3.37
4 Alabama 49.5 percent 16.81 47 New York 22.2 percent 4.43
5 Montana 67.5 percent 16.80 46 Connecticut 22.2 percent 5.20

 

The state with the highest per capita gun death rate in 2014 was Alaska, followed by Louisiana. Each of these states has extremely lax gun violence prevention laws as well as a higher rate of gun ownership. The state with the lowest gun death rate in the nation was Hawaii, followed by Rhode Island. Each of these states has strong gun violence prevention laws and a lower rate of gun ownership.

“Year after year, the evidence is clear that states with fewer guns and strong gun laws have far lower rates of gun death,” says VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand. “States with strong gun violence prevention laws consistently have the lowest gun death rates in the nation. In states with weak gun laws and easy availability of guns, the rates of death by gunfire are far higher.”

The nationwide gun death rate in 2014 was 10.54. The total number of Americans killed by gunfire dipped to 33,599 in 2014 from 33,636 in 2013.

America’s gun death rates — both nationwide and in the states — dwarf those of other industrialized nations. The gun death rate in the United Kingdom was 0.23 per 100,000 in 2011, and in Australia the gun death rate was 0.93 per 100,000 in 2013. (These are the most recent years for which data is available. Data for these countries is available at GunPolicy.org, hosted by the Sydney School of Public Health at the University of Sydney in Australia.)

State gun death rates are calculated by dividing the number of gun deaths by the total state population and multiplying the result by 100,000 to obtain the rate per 100,000, which is the standard and accepted method for comparing fatal levels of gun violence.

The VPC defined states with “weak” gun violence prevention laws as those that add little or nothing to federal law and have permissive laws governing the open or concealed carrying of firearms in public. States with “strong” gun violence prevention laws were defined as those that add significant state regulation that is absent from federal law, such as restricting access to particularly hazardous and deadly types of firearms (for example, assault weapons), setting minimum safety standards for firearms and/or requiring a permit to purchase a firearm, and restricting the open and concealed carrying of firearms in public.

State gun ownership rates were obtained from the October 2014 American Journal of Public Health article by Michael Siegel et al., “The Relationship Between Gun Ownership and Stranger and Nonstranger Firearm Homicide Rates in the United States, 1981-2010,” which is the most recent comprehensive published data available on state gun ownership.

 

 

The Violence Policy Center is a national educational organization working to stop gun death and injury. Follow the VPC on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

Media Contact:
Marty Langley
(202) 822-8200 x109
mlangley@vpc.org