Special Report

States With the Most Gun Violence

7. Arkansas
> Age-adjusted firearm death rate: 16.0 per 100,000
> Firearm deaths 2002-2011: 4,341 (24th lowest)
> 2011 Violent crime rate: 480.9 per 100,000 (10th highest)
> Permit required to buy handgun: No
> Poverty rate: 19.8% (4th highest)

There were 145 gun-related homicides in Arkansas, or 5.2 per 100,000 residents, among the highest rates nationwide in 2011. When suicides and accidents were taken into account, there were 16 firearm-related deaths in Arkansas that year, slightly higher than in 2007. Gun violence in Arkansas puts female residents particularly at risk. The state had among the highest gun-related murder rates of women in 2011, with 2.3 homicides of women per 100,000 residents. Like nearly all the states on this list, Arkansas’s gun laws are relatively permissive — the purchase of rifles, shotguns, and handguns does not require a permit. Arkansas also shares an exceptionally high poverty rate with the majority of states with high numbers of gun deaths. Nearly 20% of residents lived below the poverty line in 2012, the fourth highest rate nationwide.

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6. Montana
> Age-adjusted firearm death rate: 16.3 per 100,000
> Firearm deaths 2002-2011: 1,476 (12th lowest)
> 2011 Violent crime rate: 267.5 per 100,000 (17th lowest)
> Permit required to buy handgun: No
> Poverty rate: 15.5% (25th highest)

Known for its outdoors culture, many of Montana residents use their guns for hunting. Although guns are likely a part of daily life in Montana, homicide and accidents accounted for relatively few gun deaths in 2011. There were just 1.2 firearm-related homicides per 100,000 people in Montana, among the lower rates nationwide. Suicides, on the other hand, accounted for a large number of gun-related deaths in the state. Montana led the nation with 14.7 firearm-related suicides per 100,000 residents, more than double the national rate. Montana’s high suicide rate may be due in part to extremely low population density. According to the American Psychological Association, suicide rates tend to be higher in rural areas for a variety of factors, including “greater access to firearms, high rates of drug and alcohol use and few health-care providers and emergency medical facilities.”

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5. Oklahoma
> Age-adjusted firearm death rate: 16.6 per 100,000
> Firearm deaths 2002-2011: 5,002 (23rd highest)
> 2011 Violent crime rate: 454.8 per 100,000 (11th highest)
> Permit required to buy handgun: No
> Poverty rate: 17.2% (15th highest)

Gun-related homicide and suicide rates were both relatively high in Oklahoma. In 2011, 166 state residents were committed with the use of firearms, or 4.4 per 100,000 people, versus a national gun-related homicide rate of 3.6 per 100,000 people. There were 440 suicides using firearms in 2011, or 11.5 per 100,000, the fourth highest rate nationwide. Oklahoma does not require a state permit to purchase or possess a handgun, shotgun, or rifle. Like the majority of the states with high gun-related fatality rates, Oklahoma residents are also relatively poor. A typical household income was just $44,312 in 2012, considerably less than the national median household income of $51,371 that year.

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