Special Report

The 10 States With the Least Gun Violence

7. Minnesota
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people:
> Total firearm deaths 2005-2014: 4,051 (21st lowest)
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 229.1 (10th lowest)
> Adult gun ownership rate: 36.7% (17th highest)
> Poverty rate: 11.5% (9th lowest)

Minnesota’s gun regulations are more restrictive compared to laws most states, which may partially explain the low gun fatality rate. At fewer than 7.0 deaths for every 100,000 Minnesotans, it is one of the lowest in the nation. The regulations, however, are also not as restrictive as in some other states. Minnesota does not require background checks before gun transfers between unlicensed parties; firearm dealers are not required to obtain a license; nor are gun owners required to obtain a license, register firearms, or report stolen weapons.

Minnesota’s gun ownership rate of 36.7% is higher than the national rate of 29.3%, and it is exceptionally high compared with other states with the lowest gun death rates.

6. New Jersey
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people:
> Total firearm deaths 2005-2014: 5,022 (25th lowest)
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 261.2 (14th lowest)
> Adult gun ownership rate: 11.3% (4th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.1% (4th lowest)

States where gun ownership is more common tend to have higher rates of gun violence. In New Jersey, which has one of the lowest rates of gun deaths per capita, just 11.3% of adults own a gun, roughly a third of the national gun ownership rate of 29.1%.

There is a high correlation between violence and poverty levels. New Jersey’s poverty rate of 11.1% is fourth lowest in the country. Its gun death rate is sixth lowest. Like many states with less gun violence, New Jersey has relatively strict gun laws. The state requires a permit to purchase any handgun and prohibits those convicted of domestic abuse from owning or buying a firearm of any kind.

5. Connecticut
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people:
> Total firearm deaths 2005-2014: 2,049 (13th lowest)
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 236.9 (12th lowest)
> Adult gun ownership rate: 16.6% (6th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.8% (3rd lowest)

While the connection between financial security and gun-related violence is poorly understood, poor communities are victims of shooting deaths far more frequently than more prosperous communities. Connecticut is a case in point. The state’s poverty rate of 10.8% is third lowest in the nation, and its gun-related death rate is fifth lowest.

In 2012, 20 elementary school children and six adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. It was the second-deadliest school shooting U.S. history. The debate over gun control took center stage following the massacre. After the shooting in Orlando, Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut launched a filibuster in an attempt to force congress to revisit gun control legislation. Connecticut has among the most strict regulations on the purchasing and owning of firearms.

4. New York
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people:
> Total firearm deaths 2005-2014: 10,601 (10th highest)
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 381.8 (19th highest)
> Adult gun ownership rate: 10.3% (3rd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 15.9% (19th highest)

New York had more than 10,000 total firearm deaths over the last decade. While this is more than most states, relative to its population, gun deaths are relatively uncommon in the state. The low gun death rate is likely at least partially due to limited access to guns, as well as the relatively few gun owners in the state. There are just 7.8 licensed gun dealers per 1,000 establishments in the state, the second lowest concentration in the country. By contrast, there are 18.7 gun dealers per 1,000 businesses nationwide. Also, barely 10% of New York adults own a gun compared to a national share of 29.1%.

The majority of gun fatalities in the United States are suicides. New York’s gun suicide rate of 2.4 per 100,000 people is less than half the national rate of 6.7 per 100,000 people.

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