Special Report

The 10 States With the Worst Gun Violence

6. Arkansas
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people:
16.7 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2005-2014: 4,974 (24th lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 480.1 per 100,000 (9th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 18.9% (6th highest)

As is generally the case in states with the most gun violence, Arkansas has fewer gun restrictions, more guns, more gun sellers, and a higher incidence of violent crime than in most of the United States. The state does not require gun owners to obtain licenses, permits to carry rifles and shotguns, permits to purchase any weapon, or register their firearms. An estimated 57.9% of Arkansas residents own guns, the highest share of any state in the Southern United States and second of all states after Alaska. There are also 43 licensed gun sellers for every 1,000 business establishments in Arkansas, the second highest proportion of all states.

States with the highest gun death rates tend to also have high violent crime levels, and Arkansas fits this pattern. In 2014, there were 480 reported violent crimes for every 100,000 state residents, among the highest violent crime rates in the nation.

5. Montana
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people:
16.8 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2005-2014: 1,712 (12th lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 323.7 per 100,000 (25th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 15.4% (22nd highest)

Nationally, suicides make up the vast majority of gun fatalities, and this is especially the case in Montana. Firearms were used in 14.6 suicides for every 100,000 Montana residents, trailing only Alaska for the highest firearm suicide rate in the country. Looking at all types of suicide, there are 23.7 suicides per 100,000 people in Montana, by far the highest in the nation. According to the Montana Department of Public Health, residents of small, isolated communities — which are common in large rural states such as Montana — are often more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts. Firearms used for hunting are also more common in these areas, and the readily available option for people considering ending their life is attributed to higher suicide rates.

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