Special Report

States With the Most Gun Violence

4. Wyoming
> Age-adjusted firearm death rate: 16.7 per 100,000
> Firearm deaths 2002-2011: 844 (7th lowest)
> 2011 Violent crime rate: 219.3 per 100,000 (7th lowest)
> Permit required to buy handgun: No
> Poverty rate: 12.6% (13th lowest)

In 2011, Wyoming reported just 96 firearms deaths, among the fewest of any state in the U.S. However, Wyoming is also the nation’s least populous state, with just over 567,000 residents as of 2011. As a result, Wyoming’s firearm-related fatality rate was fourth highest, amounting to an age-adjusted 16.7 firearm deaths per 100,000 residents. Additionally, there were 14.6 suicides per 100,000 residents that year, more than any state except for Montana and more than double the national rate of 6.2 firearm suicides per 100,000 people. However, by many measures, Wyoming is a relatively safe state. There were just 219.3 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2011, versus some 386 crimes for every 100,000 Americans nationwide.

3. Alaska
> Age-adjusted firearm death rate: 16.9 per 100,000
> Firearm deaths 2002-2011: 1,227 (10th lowest)
> 2011 Violent crime rate: 606.5 per 100,000 (2nd highest)
> Permit required to buy handgun: No
> Poverty rate: 10.1% (2nd lowest)

Over the 10 years through to 2011, there were an average of 18.2 gun-related fatalities per 100,000 residents in Alaska each year, more than in all but one other state. Most of these fatalities, however, were not homicides. The gun-related homicide rate was exceptionally low in Alaska, however, at just 2.4 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2011, versus a national rate of 3.6 homicides per 100,000 residents. Despite the low firearm homicide rate, Alaska had nearly the highest violent crime rate in the nation, with 606.5 violent crimes reported per 100,000 in 2011, second only to Tennessee. Like the majority of the nation, most of the gun-related fatalities in Alaska were suicides. There were 13.5 firearm-related suicides per 100,000 state-residents in 2011, more than in all but two other states. Socioeconomically, Alaska was an exception. The state had among the highest educational attainment rates and median household incomes nationwide in 2012.

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2. Mississippi
> Age-adjusted firearm death rate: 17.9 per 100,000
> Firearm deaths 2002-2011: 4,965 (24th highest)
> 2011 Violent crime rate: 269.8 per 100,000 (18th lowest)
> Permit required to buy handgun: No
> Poverty rate: 24.2% (the highest)

There were 7.7 gun-related homicides per 100,000 Mississippi residents in 2011, more than double the national rate of 3.6, and second only to Louisiana. This contributed substantially to the state’s high murder and nonnegligent manslaughter rate. Eight Mississippi residents were murdered for every 100,000 people in the state, the second highest rate in the nation. The state’s suicide rate was also quite high. There were 8.9 suicides involving a firearm per 100,000 people in 2011, among the higher rates in the nation. Like many of the states with the most gun deaths, state residents frequently struggle with poverty. Mississippi led the nation with a poverty rate of 24.2% in 2012, and it trailed behind most states in other factors such as access to basic necessities, health care, and household income.

1. Louisiana
> Age-adjusted firearm death rate: 18.8 per 100,000
> Firearm deaths 2002-2011: 8,544 (13th highest)
> 2011 Violent crime rate: 555.3 per 100,000 (7th highest)
> Permit required to buy handgun: No
> Poverty rate: 19.9% (3rd highest)

There were nearly 19 firearm-related deaths per 100,000 residents in Louisiana in 2011, more than in any other state in the nation. Of that, 9.4 deaths per 100,000 people were gun-related homicides, the most nationwide. Louisiana also led the nation with a murder rate with 11.2 per 100,000 people in 2011, well above the national rate of 4.7. Additionally, suicide accounted for 8.2 fatalities per 100,000 residents, versus a national rate of 6.2 per 100,000. Overall, there were more than 8,500 firearm-related deaths in Louisiana between 2002 and 2011, among the higher number of fatalities in the nation. Louisiana residents also struggle with high poverty rates and poor educational attainment. Nearly one in five people in the state lived below the poverty line in 2012, the third highest rate nationally. Like other states on this list, Louisiana’s gun laws do not require residents to have a permit before purchasing a handgun.