Special Report

The 10 States With the Least Gun Violence

3. Massachusetts
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people:
> Total firearm deaths 2005-2014: 2,504 (16th lowest)
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 391.4 (18th highest)
> Adult gun ownership rate: 22.6% (12th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.6% (10th lowest)

The firearm death rate of 3.4 per 100,000 people in Massachusetts is barely a third of the national rate. Just 67 of the nation’s 10,945 gun homicides in 2014 occurred in the state, as did only 130 of the 21,334 suicides by firearm that year. This may be due in part to the state’s relatively strict gun laws. For example, the state bans some assault-style rifles, high-capacity magazines, and certain handguns considered especially dangerous.

The state actually has an above-average concentration of gun shops, with 23 licensed dealers per 1,000 establishments, higher than the national figure of 23 for every 1,000 businesses. However, gun ownership is still among the lowest in the country, with 22.6% of adults owning a firearm compared to a national ownership rate of 29.1%.

2. Rhode Island
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people:
> Total firearm deaths 2005-2014: 478 (2nd lowest)
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 219.2 (9th lowest)
> Adult gun ownership rate: 5.8% (2nd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 14.3% (24th lowest)

States with relatively minimal gun violence tend to also have relatively few gun owners. Rhode Island is no exception as just 5.8% of the state’s adults report owning a firearm, about one fifth of the national share of 29.1% of adults who own a gun. Only Delaware has a lower gun ownership rate. Violent crime in all forms tends to be lower in states with fewer gun deaths. Rhode Island’s violent crime rate of 219.2 incidents per 100,000 people a year is the ninth lowest in the country.

Rhode Island has a number of strict gun control policies. The state requires a background check for firearm transfers between unlicensed individuals. It also requires a seven-day waiting period for all gun purchases. However, Rhode Island and Wisconsin are the only two states with the fewest gun deaths per capita that do not require a license, registration, or permit to buy either a handgun or long gun.

1. Hawaii
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people:
> Total firearm deaths 2005-2014: 449 (the lowest)
> Violent crime rate per 100,000: 259.2 (13th lowest)
> Adult gun ownership rate: 45.1% (10th highest)
> Poverty rate: 11.4% (7th lowest)

In no state are there fewer reported gun deaths relative to the population than in Hawaii. Nationally, there are 10.5 fatalities caused by guns every year, well over three times Hawaii’s gun death rate.

For a state with the least gun violence in the country, Hawaii is unusual in at least one key measure. Most states on this list have significantly lower gun ownership rates than the national share of 29.1%. However, more than 45% of Hawaii’s adults report owning a firearm, the 10th highest proportion in the country.

Click here to see the 10 states with the worst gun violence.

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