> Violent crime rate: 422.0 per 100,000 (14th highest)
> Murder rate: 6.0 per 100,000 (13th highest)
> Median household income: $48,568 (12th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.3% (21st highest)
There were 422 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in Oklahoma in 2015, significantly more than the national rate of 373 incidents per 100,000 Americans. One of the most dangerous states in the country, Oklahoma also has one of the largest prison populations. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 1,015 in every 100,000 Oklahomans are incarcerated in state prisons, the highest rate in Oklahoma history and the second highest rate of any U.S. state.
A number of dangerous cities in Oklahoma drive up the state’s crime rate. In each of the state’s three metropolitan areas — Lawton, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City — the violent crime rate exceeds the national rate. In the Lawton metro area, there were 747 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2015, the 15th most of any U.S. city.
> Violent crime rate: 275.8 per 100,000 (16th lowest)
> Murder rate: 8.7 per 100,000 (2nd highest)
> Median household income: $40,593 (the lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.9% (7th highest)
Mississippi is one of many poor, rural states in the South among the most violent in the country. An estimated 22.0% of the Mississippi population lives in poverty, the largest share of any state. While the relationship between income and violence is complicated, individuals in households below the poverty line are more than twice as likely to be victims of violent crime as residents of high-income households. Despite a low overall violent crime rate, there were 8.7 homicides reported per 100,000 residents in Mississippi in 2015, the second most of any state.
Guns factor into violence more in Mississippi than in nearly any other state. Firearms are the cause of death in 69.4% of all suicides in the state, the largest share nationwide. Overall, approximately 20 in every 100,000 Mississippi residents were mortally wounded by a firearm in 2015, the third highest ratio of any state.
8. New Mexico
> Violent crime rate: 656.1 per 100,000 (3rd highest)
> Murder rate: 5.6 per 100,000 (17th highest)
> Median household income: $45,382 (6th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 6.6% (2nd highest)
States with favorable economic conditions tend to be relatively peaceful. In New Mexico, the poor economy is likely closely tied to the high prevalence of violence. Some 6.6% of the state’s labor force is out of a job, and 20.4% of the population lives in poverty, each the second largest share of any state.
There were 656 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents in New Mexico last year, the third highest violent crime rate in the country. As is the case in many of the most violent states, guns are relatively common in New Mexico. Roughly half of the state’s residents live in gun owning households, well above the 29% share of Americans nationwide.
7. South Carolina
> Violent crime rate: 504.5 per 100,000 (7th highest)
> Murder rate: 8.1 per 100,000 (5th highest)
> Median household income: $47,238 (8th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.1% (25th lowest)
Some 44.4% of South Carolina’s population lives in gun-owning households, a far larger share than the 29.1% U.S. gun ownership rate. In South Carolina, there are 6.4 handgun murders for every 100,000 people, the highest handgun murder rate in the country after only Missouri and Louisiana.
Firearms are also used to commit a disproportionate share of suicides in South Carolina. About 63.5% of all suicides in the state involve a firearm, higher than in the vast majority of states and the 50.7% comparable U.S. share.
> Violent crime rate: 497.4 per 100,000 (9th highest)
> Murder rate: 8.3 per 100,000 (4th highest)
> Median household income: $50,238 (15th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.9% (20th lowest)
In Missouri, there were about 497 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents in 2015, well above the 373 incidents per 100,000 U.S. violent crime rate. The state’s crime rate is driven in large part by violence in St. Louis. With 1,817 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 2015, St. Louis is the most violent city in both Missouri and the United States.
Across the state, guns present a considerable problem. About 84% of all murders in Missouri are carried out with firearms, the largest share of any state after only Illinois. Additionally, in Missouri, there are 6.9 murders carried out with a handgun for every 100,000 people annually, the second highest handgun murder rate of any state.
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