Newly available data for 2013 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 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
Meanwhile, 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. But even in these states, however, 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 2013, the most recent year for which data is available. For a list of gun death rates in all 50 states, click here.
States with the Five Highest Gun Death Rates (Rank State Household Gun Ownership Gun Death Rate Per 100,000):
1. Alaska — 60.6 percent, 19.59
2. Louisiana — 45.6 percent, 19.15
3. Alabama — 57.2 percent, 17.79
4. Mississippi — 54.3 percent, 17.55
5. Wyoming — 62.8 percent, 17.51
States with the Five Lowest Gun Death Rates (Rank State Household Gun Ownership Gun Death Rate Per 100,000)
50. Hawaii — 9.7 percent, 2.71
49. Massachusetts — 12.8 percent, 3.18
48. New York — 18.1 percent, 4.39
47. Connecticut — 16.2 percent, 4.48
46. Rhode Island — 13.3 percent, 5.33
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 nationwide gun death rate was 10.64 per 100,000. The total number of Americans killed by gunfire rose to 33,636 in 2013 from 33,563 in 2012.
“Reducing exposure to firearms and having stronger gun laws saves lives,” says VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand. “Each year, the data consistently show that states with strong gun violence prevention laws and low rates of gun ownership have the lowest gun death rates in the nation. The highest gun death rates are in states with weak gun violence prevention laws and easy access to guns.”
“This report should be a wake-up call to state legislators,” says Cathie Whittenburg, communications director of States United to Prevent Gun Violence. “There is no higher priority for elected officials than enacting laws that keep families safe from death and injury.”
America’s gun death rates — both nationwide and in the states — dwarf those of other industrialized nations. In 2011, the gun death rate in the United Kingdom was 0.23 per 100,000 and in Australia the gun death rate was 0.86 per 100,000. (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 ownership rates were obtained from the September 2005 Pediatrics article “Prevalence of Household Firearms and Firearm-Storage Practices in the 50 States and the District of Columbia: Findings From the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2002,” which is the most recent comprehensive published data available on state gun ownership.