States With the Most Gun Violence

February 20, 2018 by Thomas C. Frohlich

Source: UltraONEs / iStock

The latest mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school reignited the debate over gun ownership rights and further highlighted the role that mental illness plays in these tragic episodes of gun violence in the United States. Last Wednesday, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle before he was apprehended by law enforcement. The weapon used in the shootings was purchased legally about a year earlier.

With this latest tragedy, three of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history have occurred in the last five months.

While grabbing the most headlines, gun violence is not limited to mass shootings. Gun fatalities include homicides, accidents, and suicides. There were 38,658 firearm deaths in the United States in 2016. Of those fatalities, 22,938 were suicides, and 14,415 were homicides.

No part of the country has been spared mass shootings. The 10 deadliest incidents have occurred in Texas, California, Florida, Virginia, Connecticut, Oklahoma, and Nevada.

When adjusted for the population size, five of the deadliest 10 states are in the South, and six are among the 10 poorest U.S. states. In all but five states, more than half of all firearm fatalities were suicides.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on gun violence by state based on the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which tracks the number of gun-related deaths in each state.

Click here to see the states with the worst gun violence.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

Source: Thinkstock

50. Massachusetts
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 3.4 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 242 (suicides: 140, homicides: 89)
> Violent crime rate: 376.9 per 100,000 (23rd highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 10.4% (9th lowest)

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Source: Thinkstock

49. Rhode Island
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 4.0 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 49 (suicides: 35, homicides: N/A)
> Violent crime rate: 238.9 per 100,000 (8th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 12.8% (22nd lowest)

Source: GummyBone / iStock

48. New York
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 4.4 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 900 (suicides: 490, homicides: 390)
> Violent crime rate: 376.2 per 100,000 (24th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 14.7% (16th highest)

Source: sorincolac / iStock

47. Hawaii
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 4.5 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 66 (suicides: 37, homicides: 22)
> Violent crime rate: 309.2 per 100,000 (21st lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 9.3% (2nd lowest)

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Source: Thinkstock

46. Connecticut
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 4.6 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 172 (suicides: 110, homicides: 55)
> Violent crime rate: 227.1 per 100,000 (5th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 9.8% (4th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

45. New Jersey
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 5.5 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 485 (suicides: 176, homicides: 297)
> Violent crime rate: 245.0 per 100,000 (12th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 10.4% (9th lowest)

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Source: Thinkstock

44. Minnesota
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 7.6 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 432 (suicides: 332, homicides: 83)
> Violent crime rate: 242.6 per 100,000 (9th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes (concealed and open carry)
> Poverty rate: 9.9% (6th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

43. California
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 7.9 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 3184 (suicides: 1595, homicides: 1467)
> Violent crime rate: 445.3 per 100,000 (15th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes (in incorporated areas and concealed anywhere)
> Poverty rate: 14.3% (20th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

42. Maine
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 8.2 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 123 (suicides: 112, homicides: N/A)
> Violent crime rate: 123.8 per 100,000 (the lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: No (No permit is necessary to carry openly, or to carry a concealed handgun if person is at least 21.)
> Poverty rate: 12.5% (21st lowest)

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41. Washington
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 9.0 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 686 (suicides: 515, homicides: 146)
> Violent crime rate: 302.2 per 100,000 (19th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 11.3% (14th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

40. Nebraska
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 9.1 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 171 (suicides: 116, homicides: 45)
> Violent crime rate: 291.0 per 100,000 (17th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 11.4% (15th lowest)

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Source: Thinkstock

39. Iowa
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 9.2 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 288 (suicides: 228, homicides: 49)
> Violent crime rate: 290.6 per 100,000 (16th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 11.8% (18th lowest)

Source: Ken Lund / Flickr

38. New Hampshire
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 9.3 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 132 (suicides: 123, homicides: N/A)
> Violent crime rate: 197.6 per 100,000 (3rd lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: No (A concealed handgun in the state does not require a permit. However, New Hampshire gun laws consider it illegal to carry a loaded handgun concealed on oneself or in a vehicle.)
> Poverty rate: 7.3% (the lowest)

Source: aimintang / iStock

37. Delaware
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 10.9 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 111 (suicides: 65, homicides: 44)
> Violent crime rate: 508.8 per 100,000 (9th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 11.7% (16th lowest)

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Source: Thinkstock

36. Vermont
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 11.0 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 78 (suicides: 69, homicides: N/A)
> Violent crime rate: 158.3 per 100,000 (2nd lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: No (Vermont does not issue permits nor require one for law-abiding citizens to carry concealed.)
> Poverty rate: 11.9% (19th lowest)

Source: Jason_Ray_Photography / iStock

35. Wisconsin
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 11.4 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 664 (suicides: 455, homicides: 188)
> Violent crime rate: 305.9 per 100,000 (20th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 11.8% (18th lowest)

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Source: Thinkstock

34. Illinois
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 11.6 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 1490 (suicides: 506, homicides: 944)
> Violent crime rate: 436.3 per 100,000 (16th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: FOID Required
> Poverty rate: 13.0% (24th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

33. Oregon
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 11.8 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 513 (suicides: 414, homicides: 78)
> Violent crime rate: 264.6 per 100,000 (14th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 13.3% (24th highest)

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock

32. Maryland
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 11.8 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 707 (suicides: 251, homicides: 436)
> Violent crime rate: 472.0 per 100,000 (11th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 9.7% (3rd lowest)

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Source: Thinkstock

31. Pennsylvania
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 11.9 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 1555 (suicides: 976, homicides: 538)
> Violent crime rate: 316.4 per 100,000 (22nd lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 12.9% (23rd lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

30. North Dakota
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 11.9 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 90 (suicides: 75, homicides: N/A)
> Violent crime rate: 251.1 per 100,000 (13th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: No
> Poverty rate: 10.7% (10th lowest)

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Source: Thinkstock

29. Virginia
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 12.0 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 1049 (suicides: 671, homicides: 353)
> Violent crime rate: 217.6 per 100,000 (4th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 11.0% (12th lowest)

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / iStock

28. Texas
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 12.1 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 3353 (suicides: 2016, homicides: 1222)
> Violent crime rate: 434.4 per 100,000 (17th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 15.6% (12th highest)

Source: gnagel / iStock

27. Michigan
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 12.2 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 1230 (suicides: 717, homicides: 482)
> Violent crime rate: 459.0 per 100,000 (13th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 15.0% (15th highest)

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Source: flickr

26. Florida
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 12.6 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 2704 (suicides: 1672, homicides: 992)
> Violent crime rate: 430.3 per 100,000 (18th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 14.7% (16th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

25. Ohio
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 12.9 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 1524 (suicides: 926, homicides: 557)
> Violent crime rate: 300.3 per 100,000 (18th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 14.6% (18th highest)

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Source: Thinkstock

24. Utah
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 12.9 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 370 (suicides: 309, homicides: 48)
> Violent crime rate: 242.8 per 100,000 (10th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes (A criminal background check is conducted for all applicants)
> Poverty rate: 10.2% (7th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

23. Kansas
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 13.3 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 383 (suicides: 257, homicides: 113)
> Violent crime rate: 380.4 per 100,000 (22nd highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: No
> Poverty rate: 12.1% (20th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

22. South Dakota
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 13.5 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 108 (suicides: 84, homicides: N/A)
> Violent crime rate: 418.4 per 100,000 (19th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 13.3% (24th highest)

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Source: Thinkstock

21. North Carolina
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 13.6 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 1409 (suicides: 788, homicides: 558)
> Violent crime rate: 372.2 per 100,000 (25th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 15.4% (13th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

20. Colorado
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 14.3 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 812 (suicides: 613, homicides: 161)
> Violent crime rate: 342.6 per 100,000 (23rd lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes (Weapon carried at home, business, hotel room, etc., must be in plain view)
> Poverty rate: 11.0% (12th lowest)

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Source: Thinkstock

19. Idaho
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 14.6 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 242 (suicides: 215, homicides: N/A)
> Violent crime rate: 230.3 per 100,000 (6th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: No (A permit to carry is available but not required to carry a handgun either openly or concealed.)
> Poverty rate: 14.4% (19th highest)

Source: JillianCain / iStock

18. Indiana
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 14.9 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 997 (suicides: 591, homicides: 368)
> Violent crime rate: 404.7 per 100,000 (20th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 14.1% (21st highest)

Source: Thinkstock

17. Georgia
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 14.9 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 1571 (suicides: 871, homicides: 653)
> Violent crime rate: 397.6 per 100,000 (21st highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 16.0% (10th highest)

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Source: Thinkstock

16. Arizona
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 15.2 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 1094 (suicides: 755, homicides: 303)
> Violent crime rate: 470.1 per 100,000 (12th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: No (Citizens allowed to carry a concealed handgun with or without a permit.)
> Poverty rate: 16.4% (8th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

15. Nevada
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 16.7 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 498 (suicides: 334, homicides: 149)
> Violent crime rate: 678.1 per 100,000 (3rd highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 13.8% (23rd highest)

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14. Tennessee
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 17.0 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 1148 (suicides: 675, homicides: 434)
> Violent crime rate: 632.9 per 100,000 (4th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 15.8% (11th highest)

Source: Jacqueline Nix / iStock

13. Kentucky
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 17.5 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 772 (suicides: 495, homicides: 234)
> Violent crime rate: 232.3 per 100,000 (7th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 18.5% (4th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

12. West Virginia
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 17.5 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 332 (suicides: 238, homicides: 78)
> Violent crime rate: 358.1 per 100,000 (24th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: No (Permit to carry available, but not required to carry a handgun either openly or concealed for those 21 and over.)
> Poverty rate: 17.9% (5th highest)

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Source: Thinkstock

11. Wyoming
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 17.5 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 101 (suicides: 87, homicides: N/A)
> Violent crime rate: 244.2 per 100,000 (11th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: No (Wyoming residents do not have to obtain any type of permit/license from the state to exercise their Second Amendment rights.)
> Poverty rate: 11.3% (14th lowest)

Source: Thinkstock

10. South Carolina
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 17.7 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 891 (suicides: 525, homicides: 335)
> Violent crime rate: 501.8 per 100,000 (10th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 15.3% (14th highest)

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Source: Thinkstock

9. Arkansas
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 17.7 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 541 (suicides: 331, homicides: 182)
> Violent crime rate: 550.9 per 100,000 (6th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 17.2% (6th highest)

Source: Thinkstock

8. New Mexico
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 18.2 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 383 (suicides: 243, homicides: 113)
> Violent crime rate: 702.5 per 100,000 (2nd highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 19.8% (3rd highest)

Source: Thinkstock

7. Missouri
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 18.8 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 1144 (suicides: 650, homicides: 464)
> Violent crime rate: 519.4 per 100,000 (8th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: No
> Poverty rate: 14.0% (22nd highest)

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Source: Thinkstock

6. Montana
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 19.0 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 194 (suicides: 162, homicides: N/A)
> Violent crime rate: 368.3 per 100,000 (25th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes (A permit to carry concealed is not needed outside limits of cities or towns.)
> Poverty rate: 13.3% (24th highest)

Source: digidreamgrafix / iStock

5. Oklahoma
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 19.6 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 766 (suicides: 517, homicides: 238)
> Violent crime rate: 449.8 per 100,000 (14th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 16.3% (9th highest)

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Source: Thinkstock

4. Mississippi
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 19.8 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 587 (suicides: 268, homicides: 282)
> Violent crime rate: 280.5 per 100,000 (15th lowest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: No (A permit to carry can be obtained, but it is not required to carry a handgun either openly or concealed.)
> Poverty rate: 20.8% (the highest)

Source: Photoservice / iStock

3. Louisiana
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 21.2 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 987 (suicides: 440, homicides: 526)
> Violent crime rate: 566.1 per 100,000 (5th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 20.2% (2nd highest)

Source: Thinkstock

2. Alabama
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 21.4 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 1046 (suicides: 550, homicides: 454)
> Violent crime rate: 532.3 per 100,000 (7th highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: Yes
> Poverty rate: 17.1% (7th highest)

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Source: Travis / Flickr

1. Alaska
> Firearm deaths per 100,000 people: 23.0 per 100,000
> Total firearm deaths 2016: 177 (suicides: 113, homicides: 45)
> Violent crime rate: 804.2 per 100,000 (the highest)
> Permit required to carry handgun: No
> Poverty rate: 9.9% (6th lowest)

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.