Special Report

States With the Most Gun Violence

Detailed Findings & Methodology

Democrats have criticized the restrictions enacted in 1996 following intense lobbying by groups such as the National Rifle Association. Republicans have been able to thwart Democrats’ attempts to restore federal dollars to fund gun violence research. CDC researchers stopped working on gun-related projects, and federal funding evaporated.

So while the Trump administration has indicated in the wake of the Florida shooting that they may be shifting their position on funding CDC research of gun violence, studying gun violence in the United States remains relatively difficult.

Some associations can be made with data that is available. For example, even though rapidly firing weapons such as the AR-15 have been the weapon of choice in recent mass shootings, the majority of gun-related fatalities involve handguns.

The similarities of states with the highest firearm-related death rates can also be telling. For example, the states with the highest gun death rates are often the states with relatively loose gun restrictions.

Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia require a permit to carry a handgun. Of the 12 states that allow individuals to carry concealed weapons (CCW) in public without a permit — Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming — eight report above-average firearm death rates.

Over the past three decades, many states have loosened laws limiting concealed carry weapons permits and now have more permissive CCW permitting systems.

With the notable exception of Alaska, such states also tend to be among the nation’s poorest. Of the 33 states with firearm death rates that exceed the national incidence of 11.73 deaths per 100,000 people, 19 have poverty rates that exceed the national rate of 14.0%. Financial losses are listed by the CDC and other groups as among the key risk factors for suicide. Concentrated poverty may therefore help explain high suicide death rates, and in turn the high firearm death rates, in many of the states on this list.

The mass shooting in Florida might have marked a turning point in the debate over gun control. On Sunday morning, student organizers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the tragedy took place, announced that they will lead a nationwide demonstration on March 24 called the “March for Our Lives.” The organizers told news organizations they want to make the shooting at their school a turning point in the gun control debate.

To determine the states with the most gun violence, 24/7 Wall St. examined 2016 firearm-related deaths data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We also considered violent crime rates from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2016 Uniform Crime Report. From the U.S. Census Bureau we reviewed poverty rates by state for 2016. Information on firearm policies for each state are from the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action.

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