Special Report

The 10 States With the Worst Gun Violence

8. Wyoming
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people:
15.9 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2005-2014: 972 (7th lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 195.5 per 100,000 (3rd lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: No
> Poverty rate: 11.2% (6th lowest)

Like all of the states with the highest gun death rates, Wyoming residents do not need a license or a permit to buy or own a long gun or a handgun, nor is registration required. Like just seven states in the nation, and just two on this list, Wyoming also does not require a permit to carry a handgun. As in most other states where it is relatively easy to acquire a weapon, a majority of Wyoming residents own a firearm, in contrast with the estimated national gun ownership rate of around one-third of Americans.

Compared with other states with the most gun deaths, Wyoming has an exceptionally low violent crime rate. At fewer than 200 incidents per 100,000 state residents, Wyoming’s violent crime rate is nearly the lowest in the country.

7. New Mexico
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people:
16.3 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2005-2014: 3,323 (19th lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 597.4 per 100,000 (4th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 21.3% (2nd highest)

New Mexico’s gun death rate increased only slightly in 2014 to 16.3 fatalities per 100,000 state residents from 15.6 per 100,000 state residents. The state’s violent crime rate, at nearly 600 incidents per 100,000 residents is fourth highest of all states. Violent crime tends to be higher along the U.S. border with Mexico due to clashes between rival drug gangs. According to government officials quoted in Albuquerque by local news outlets, gang activity in New Mexico has risen in recent years.

Gun violence is also tied to higher poverty rates. Not only can financial distress lead to violent behavior, but the cost of experiencing violence for children and adults can also reduce cognitive functioning, anxiety, and other outcomes that hinder personal well-being.

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