Special Report

America's Most Violent (and Peaceful) States

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30. Colorado
> Violent crime rate: 342.6 per 100,000 (23rd lowest)
> Murder rate: 3.7 per 100,000 (20th lowest)
> Median household income: $65,685 (12th highest)
> May unemployment rate: 2.4% (4th lowest)

Crime rates tend to be lower in better-educated populations. In Colorado, 39.9% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, the second largest share of any state. Colorado is also less violent than most states. There were 343 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in the state in 2016, below the national rate of 386 violent crimes per 100,000 people. Additionally, though gun ownership is subject to less regulation in Colorado than in many other states, some forms of gun violence are relatively uncommon. For example, there were 2.3 homicides carried out with a firearm for every 100,000 state residents from 2012 through 2016 compared to 3.8 per 100,000 nationwide. However, suicide by firearm is more common in Colorado than it across the nation as a whole.

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29. South Dakota
> Violent crime rate: 418.4 per 100,000 (19th highest)
> Murder rate: 3.1 per 100,000 (16th lowest)
> Median household income: $54,467 (22nd lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 2.9% (14th lowest)

There were 27 murders, 509 rapes, 272 robberies, and 2,813 aggravated assaults reported in South Dakota in 2016. Adjusted for the population, there were 418 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in the state, more than the national violent crime rate of 386 incidents per 100,000 Americans.

In other measures of violence, South Dakota ranks towards the middle of all states. Firearms were a factor in 49.7% of all suicides in the state, compared to 50.6% nationwide. Additionally, some 440 in every 100,000 residents are incarcerated in a South Dakota state prison, roughly in line with the national incarceration rate of 450 state prison inmates per 100,000 Americans.

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28. Kansas
> Violent crime rate: 380.4 per 100,000 (22nd highest)
> Murder rate: 3.8 per 100,000 (21st lowest)
> Median household income: $54,935 (23rd lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.3% (21st lowest)

Kansas’s violent crime rate of 380 incidents for every 100,000 people is in line with the national rate of 386 incidents per 100,000 people. In other ways, crime patterns in Kansas bear little resemblance to broader national patterns. For example, about 83% of all violent crimes in the United States are committed within metropolitan areas. In Kansas, however, only about half of all violent crimes occur in metro areas.

Property crime is also more common in Kansas than it is nationwide. There were 2,696 property crimes in the state — including burglary and motor vehicle theft — for every 100,000 people in 2016, more than in most states and higher than the national property crime rate of 2,451 per 100,000.

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27. Montana
> Violent crime rate: 368.3 per 100,000 (25th lowest)
> Murder rate: 3.5 per 100,000 (19th lowest)
> Median household income: $50,027 (11th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 3.0% (17th lowest)

Montana ranks near the middle of all states in a number of measures related to violence. While murder and robbery are less common in Montana than they are nationwide, rape and aggravated assault are both more common. In total, there were 368 violent crimes reported per 100,000 Montana residents in 2016, slightly below the national rate of 386 incidents per 100,000 Americans.

Montana has relatively loose gun restrictions, and as evidenced by a high firearm suicide rate — a measure that is used to approximate handgun ownership — a relatively large share of Montana residents own handguns. There were 15 suicides carried out with a firearm per 100,000 Montana residents from 2012 through 2016, the third highest rate of any state.

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26. Kentucky
> Violent crime rate: 232.3 per 100,000 (7th lowest)
> Murder rate: 5.9 per 100,000 (18th highest)
> Median household income: $46,659 (6th lowest)
> May unemployment rate: 4.2% (7th highest)

Of the four types of violent crime — aggravated assault, robbery, rape, and homicide — murder is the only crime more common in Kentucky than across the U.S. as a whole. There were 5.9 murders in the state for every 100,000 residents in 2016 compared to 5.3 per 100,000 nationwide. Overall, Kentucky’s violent crime rate of 232 per 100,000 is well below the national violent crime rate of 386 per 100,000.

Still, gun violence is more common in Kentucky than it is in much of the country. There were 15 deaths by firearm — including suicides — for every 100,000 residents from 2012 to 2016, well above the national rate of 11 per 100,000 over the same period.

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