States With the Most Gun Violence

April 15, 2013 by 247sam

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Following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December, a heated debate has raged over gun laws in the country. Supporters of gun control measures argue that more gun control is necessary to keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals. Opponents argue that stricter gun control laws will not solve violent crime problems and may even make law-abiding citizens easier targets by making guns harder to buy legally.

Each state has different sets of gun ownership laws. According to the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank that supports gun control, there appears to be a strong relationship between the strength of gun laws in the state and the amount of gun violence. In some states, gun violence exceeds the rest of the country by a wide margin. In Louisiana, between 2001 and 2010, there were 18.9 gun deaths for every 100,000 people, more than six times the rate in Hawaii, the state with the lowest violence. Based on the Center for American Progress report, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 states with the most gun violence.

Click here to see the states with the most gun violence

The states on this list with higher gun violence tend to have much less stringent gun laws than other states with less violence like New Jersey, Connecticut and Hawaii. For instance, none of the states on with the highest gun violence require permits for handgun purchases. In the 10 states with the lowest gun violence, seven have this requirement, including all six states with the lowest levels of gun violence. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gave seven of the 10 states an F for their gun control policies, with the remaining three receiving a D or D–.

Even as President Obama and leaders in states such as New York and Connecticut have pushed for tighter gun control following high-profile mass shootings in the past couple of years, these states have moved in the opposite direction.

For instance, Louisiana voters last month approved a constitutional amendment requiring a very high standard for gun control legislation to be enacted in the state. Louisiana has the highest rate of gun violence in the country. Alabama Senators voted earlier this month to allow gun owners to keep firearms locked in their car while at work regardless of their employer’s opinion.

Of course, not everyone agrees with the Center for American Progress. In states with looser gun laws, homicides could be higher since more people are able to use a gun to defend themselves, argues David Kopel, research director for the conservative think tank Independence Institute. He estimates that anywhere between 7% and 12% of homicides consist of self-defense, in addition to countless cases where law-abiding gun owners serve as a deterrent.

The Center for American Progress “only look at the harm of guns and refuse to take into account any deterrent or self-defense effect of firearms,” Kopel said in an interview.

Chelsea Parsons, associate director of crime and firearms policy at the Center and a co-author of this report, responded by saying the report measures all gun violence and not just homicides. “The numbers speak for themselves,” she said. She added that the fact that the states with fewer gun restrictions tend to have more gun deaths and injuries “is likely more than a coincidence.”

But stricter gun control laws alone may not solve these states’ gun violence problems. All but one state on this list had property crime rates in 2011 that were in the top half of all states. Seven of the states on this list are among the top 10 in terms of property crime, including all the top four states. The high rates of property crimes, which generally do not involve the use of firearms, indicate a more complex crime problem in these states.

Based on data provided by the Center for American Progress, 24/7 Wall St. analyzed the 10 states with the most gun violence. These rankings were based on 10 different criteria, including 2010 firearm homicide deaths per 100,000 people and 2011 firearm-related aggravated assaults. Calculated by the Center, the average rank among all states for each criteria was used to determine the ranking. We also considered data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, such as a state’s crime rate per 100,000 people and property crime rates, as well as the crime rates for large metropolitan areas. Gun laws by state were compiled by the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action and various news outlets. All data are for the most recent available years.

These are the 10 states with the most gun violence.

10. Georgia
> Firearm homicide deaths per 100,000: 4.57 (9th highest)
> Firearm aggravated assaults per 100,000: 58.64 (13th highest)
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 373.2 (21st highest)
> Need permit to purchase handgun: No
> Governor: Nathan Deal (R)

In 2010, there were 4.57 firearm homicides for every 100,000 Georgia residents, the ninth highest rate of all states. Between 2001 and 2010, 1.78 women were killed by gun violence annually for every 100,000 residents, more than all but four other states.The state has very permissive gun laws. In 2011, the state scored just an 8 out of 100 in the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence’s scorecard. According to the Center for American Progress, the state’s poor guns laws allow for a high level of illegal gun exporting. There were 28.3 guns used in a crime exported from the state for every 100,000 residents, the 10th highest of all states. Meanwhile, 27.6% of crime guns were purchased in the past two years, the seventh highest of all states.

9. Arkansas
> Firearm homicide deaths per 100,000: 4.53 (10th highest)
> Firearm aggravated assaults per 100,000: 100.56 (3rd highest)
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 480.9 (10th highest)
> Need permit to purchase handgun: No
> Governor: Mike Beebe (D)

Between 2001 and 2010, there were an average of 15.32 total firearm deaths per year — including homicides, suicides and accidents — in Arkansas for every 100,000 residents, the ninth highest of all states. Moreover, the state was one of just three to have more than 100 firearm-related aggravated assaults for every 100,000 residents in 2011. The state’s largest metropolitan area, Little Rock, had the seventh highest violent crime rate of all metropolitan areas. The state’s crime problem was broader than gun use. There were 3,754 property crimes per 100,000 residents in 2011, higher than any state except for South Carolina. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence awarded the state an F for its gun control laws.

Also Read: The Cities Where Violent Crime is Soaring

8. Missouri
> Firearm homicide deaths per 100,000: 5.59 (4th highest)
> Firearm aggravated assaults per 100,000: 88.90 (5th highest)
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 447.4 (12th highest)
> Need permit to purchase handgun: No
> Governor: Jay Nixon (D)

There were 5.6 homicide deaths by firearms for every 100,000 Missouri residents in 2010, more than all but three other states. There were also 88.9 aggravated assaults with a firearm per 100,000 residents that year, more than all but four other states. Nearly 76% of murders in 2011 were committed with a firearm, higher than all but two other states. The Republican-dominated legislature has spent more time focusing on expanding gun rights rather than curbing them. One Missouri lawmaker, Rep. Mike Leara, recently introduced a bill that would make it a felony for anyone to propose legislation that “further restricts the right of an individual to bear arms, as set forth under the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States.”

7. New Mexico
> Firearm homicide deaths per 100,000: 3.69 (18th highest)
> Firearm aggravated assaults per 100,000: 87.26 (6th highest)
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 567.5 (4th highest)
> Need permit to purchase handgun: No
> Governor: Susana Martinez (R)

Gun safety is a particular problem among children in New Mexico. Between 2001 and 2010, 3.12 children per 100,000 residents were killed annually by a firearm, higher than all but three other states. Moreover, there were more than 87 aggravated assaults with a firearm for every 100,000 residents, the sixth highest rate of all states. The state’s largest metropolitan area, Albuquerque, had one of the highest violent crime rates in the nation, with 662 violent crimes for every 100,000 people. New Mexico received an F from The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence for its gun control and safety laws. However, unlike most states on this list, New Mexico legislators may be moving toward imposing tighter gun restrictions. In February, the New Mexico House of Representatives passed a bill to tighten background checks at gun shows, although the Senate did not vote on the measure by the end of the legislative session.

6. South Carolina
> Firearm homicide deaths per 100,000: 4.95 (7th highest)
> Firearm aggravated assaults per 100,000: 127.88 (2nd highest)
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 571.9 (3rd highest)
> Need permit to purchase handgun: No
> Governor: Nikki R. Haley (R)

Between 2001 and 2010, nearly two women per every 100,000 residents were killed in a gun homicide in South Carolina, more than all but three other states. In 2011, there were 128 aggravated assaults with a firearm for every 100,000 residents, a higher rate than all states except for Tennessee. That year, South Carolina had 571.9 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents, higher than all but two other states. This included 6.8 murders and 438.4 aggravated assaults, the third and fourth highest rates in the United States, respectively. The state scored a D– from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence for its gun control and safety laws. According to the Center for American Progress, the state’s weak gun laws result in the state having one of the highest rates of illegal gun trafficking.

5. Mississippi
> Firearm homicide deaths per 100,000: 6.91 (2nd highest)
> Firearm aggravated assaults per 100,000: 51.69 (19th highest)
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 269.8 (18th highest)
> Need permit to purchase handgun: No
> Governor: Phil Bryant (R)

Mississippi scores at or near the bottom of all states in several criteria used to measure gun violence. In 2009, more than 50 guns were exported from Mississippi for every 100,000 residents and were used in a violent crime in other states, more than any other state and more than three times the average among all states. There were 6.91 firearm homicides per 100,000 residents in 2010, higher than all states except for Louisiana. In addition, there was an annual average of 2.5 homicides of women involving a firearm, also more than all states except for Louisiana. The state scored an F from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence for failing to require a background check when guns are transferred between private parties, or to regulate gun dealers effectively.

Also Read: The Cities Where Americans Don’t Feel Safe

4. Arizona
> Firearm homicide deaths per 100,000: 4.24 (13th highest)
> Firearm aggravated assaults per 100,000: 57.36 (16th highest)
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 405.9 (19th highest)
> Need permit to purchase handgun: No
> Governor: Jan Brewer (R)

Arizona ranked in the top 10 states for firearm deaths between 2001 and 2010, along with homicide deaths of women and deaths of children 17 and under in those years. In addition, 30% of guns used in a crime within the state were sold less than two years before the crime was committed, indicating a high likelihood of illegal gun trafficking. This was a higher percentage than all states except for Missouri. In March, Guns & Ammo magazine ranked the state as “The Best State for Gun Owners,” noting the state is one of just a few that do not require a license to carry a concealed firearm. Also, concealed carriers are not required to notify law enforcement of their weapon except during “lawful traffic or criminal investigation, arrest or detention or an investigatory stop by a law enforcement officer.”

3. Alabama
> Firearm homicide deaths per 100,000: 5.92 (3rd highest)
> Firearm aggravated assaults per 100,000: 40.50 (23rd highest)
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 420.1 (16th highest)
> Need permit to purchase handgun: No
> Governor: Robert Bentley (R)

In Alabama, there were 16.36 deaths due to firearms in 2010 for every 100,000 residents, more than all but three other states. That year, there were 5.92 firearm homicides for every 100,000 people, higher than all but two other states. The state also ranked within the top 10 for homicides of women with a firearm, firearm deaths of children and law enforcement killings, all within a 10-year time frame. Recently, the Alabama Senate voted to ease gun restrictions. The legislation, if signed into law, would allow residents to keep guns locked inside their vehicles at work without fear of pushback by their employer. The legislation also would allow people to carry a visible pistol without being charged with disorderly conduct.

2. Alaska
> Firearm homicide deaths per 100,000: 4.22 (14th highest)
> Firearm aggravated assaults per 100,000: 80.47 (9th highest)
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 606.5 (2nd highest)
> Need permit to purchase handgun: No
> Governor: Sean Parnell (R)

In 2010, there were more than 20 gun deaths for every 100,000 residents in Alaska, more than any other state in the country. That year, the state had more 15 suicide deaths with a firearm per 100,000 residents, also more than any other state in the country. Between 2001 and 2010, there were nearly six firearm deaths among children 17 years old or younger per 100,000 children, also the most in the country. In February, Alaska’s House of Representatives passed a law that would exempt the state from new federal gun laws. Any federal agent who attempts to enforce the law could be charged with a felony. Despite its passage, the bill is considered unconstitutional since federal law is superior to state law.

1. Louisiana
> Firearm homicide deaths per 100,000: 9.53 (the highest)
> Firearm aggravated assaults per 100,000: 99.51 (4th highest)
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 555.3 (7th highest)
> Need permit to purchase handgun: No
> Governor: Bobby Jindal (R)

No state had a bigger problem with gun violence than Louisiana. Between 2001 and 2010, there were 18.9 firearm deaths — which includes suicides and accidents — annually for every 100,000 residents, more than any other state. In 2010, there were 9.53 homicides involving a firearm for every 100,000 residents, by far the highest rate in the country. In November 2012, nearly three-fourths of Louisiana voters approved a state constitutional amendment that placed a very strict standard on determining whether individual gun rights can be limited. Since the amendment was passed, a host of legal challenges have been filed against the state’s gun restrictions, including a challenge of the ban on felons to own firearms. The state received an F for its gun laws from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Among the reasons for the poor grade are the fact that the state does not require a waiting period for gun purchases or prohibit the sales of assault weapons or high-caliber rifles.

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