Special Report

America's Most Violent (and Peaceful) States

Source: Thinkstock

10. Oklahoma
> Violent crime rate: 449.8 per 100,000 (14th highest)
> Murder rate: 6.2 per 100,000 (16th highest)
> Median household income: $49,176 (9th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.9% (11th highest)

Gun violence is more common in Oklahoma than in the vast majority of states. There were 17.2 gun deaths — including suicides — for every 100,000 people in the state from 2012 through 2016, well above the national gun death rate of 11.0 per 100,000 for the period. Oklahoma also has a near nation-leading incarceration rate, with 673 people incarcerated for every 100,000 residents, the most of any state other than Louisiana.

Overall, there were 450 violent crimes in Oklahoma for every 100,000 residents in 2016, well above the 386 per 100,000 national violent crime rate.

Source: Thinkstock

9. South Carolina
> Violent crime rate: 501.8 per 100,000 (10th highest)
> Murder rate: 7.4 per 100,000 (8th highest)
> Median household income: $49,501 (10th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 2.8% (12th lowest)

South Carolina is one of the most violent states in the nation. There were 366 murders reported in South Carolina in 2016, or 7.4 for every 100,000 residents, the eighth highest murder rate of any state. In total, there were 502 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents, far beyond the national violent crime rate of 386 per 100,000. Property crime is also relatively common in South Carolina. In 2016, there were 3,244 property crimes — burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft — reported per 100,000 state residents, the sixth highest property crime rate of any state.

Crime is often more prevalent in less wealthy areas with low educational attainment. The typical household in South Carolina earns $49,501 a year, and some 27.2% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, each among the lowest such figures of any state.

Source: ferrantraite / Getty Images

8. New Mexico
> Violent crime rate: 702.5 per 100,000 (2nd highest)
> Murder rate: 6.7 per 100,000 (12th highest)
> Median household income: $46,748 (7th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.1% (10th highest)

New Mexico’s violent crime rate of 703 incidents for every 100,000 residents is the second highest of any state, after Alaska. Property crime is also common in New Mexico. There were 3,937 property crimes — including burglary and motor vehicle theft — in New Mexico for every 100,000 people in 2016, the highest property crime rate of any state. Gun violence is also a serious problem in New Mexico. Including murders and suicides, there were 17 deaths by firearm for every 100,000 people in New Mexico from 2012 to 2016, well above the national rate of 11 per 100,000 over the same period.

States with high rates of violence are often home to relatively large low-income populations. In New Mexico, about one in every five residents live in poverty, the third highest poverty rate among states.

Source: danthi66 / Getty Images

7. Arkansas
> Violent crime rate: 550.9 per 100,000 (6th highest)
> Murder rate: 7.2 per 100,000 (10th highest)
> Median household income: $44,334 (3rd lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.5% (24th highest)

While robbery is less common in Arkansas than it is nationwide, the state has the fourth highest incidences of rape and aggravated assault and the 10th highest homicide rate in the country. In total, there were 551 violent crimes reported per 100,000 Arkansas residents in 2016, the sixth highest violent crime rate of any state.

Arkansas has some of the loosest gun regulation in the country, which may be one factor contributing to the state’s high prevalence of gun violence. Arkansas averages 5.7 gun-related homicides per 100,000 residents each year, the seventh most of any state. Additionally, firearms are a factor in 61.4% of all suicides in Arkansas, one of the largest shares nationwide.

Source: f11photo / Getty Images

6. Missouri
> Violent crime rate: 519.4 per 100,000 (8th highest)
> Murder rate: 8.8 per 100,000 (2nd highest)
> Median household income: $51,746 (14th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.3% (21st lowest)

Missouri’s murder rate is second highest among states, trailing only that of Louisiana. There were 8.8 murders in the state for every 100,000 residents in 2016, far higher than the 5.3 per 100,000 U.S. murder rate. Missouri has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the country, and murders by firearm are nearly twice as common in Missouri as they are nationwide.

Though Missouri is home to St. Louis, one of the most violent cities in the country, the majority of violent crimes in the state occur outside of metropolitan areas. Only 15.5% of violent crimes in Missouri are committed in metro areas, a stark break from the national trend — 82.9% of violent crimes in the United States are committed in metro areas.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.