Special Report

America's Most Violent and Peaceful States


To identify the most and least violent states, 24/7 Wall St. created an index based on four measures: the murder rate, the violent crime rate excluding murder, small arms ownership, and the incarceration rate. We were inspired by the 2012 United States Peace Index from the Institute for Economics and Peace. We gave full weight in the index to two of the measures: the number of murders and the number of violent crimes (excluding murder) per 100,000 people, both of which came from the FBI’s 2017 Uniform Crime Report. Incarceration rates, which capture state prisons only, were given a one-quarter weighting and came from the Bureau of Justice Statistics and are for 2017. Figures for suicides carried out by firearm as a percent of total suicides are for 2013 through 2017 to adjust for outliers and are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This component received a three-quarter weight. These data sets are frequently based on disparate and inconsistent population totals, so all state rates for the purposes of this index were calculated based on 2017 one-year Census American Community Survey population counts. The annualized suicide and firearm suicide rates for 2013 to 2017 used the CDC’s population count as the denominator. Data on crime for cities and metropolitan areas also came from the FBI and incorporate the FBI’s population estimates.

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