Homicides surged in the U.S. by nearly 30% in 2020, the largest annual increase since record keeping began. The same year, U.S. firearm sales hit an all-time high of nearly 23 million, increasing 24% from 2019, according to consulting firm Small Arms Analytics. (Here is a look at the states with the most gun purchases per person.)
The record gun sales at the same time that a spike in murders occurred may be more than mere coincidence. Based on local police department data compiled by the FBI, an estimated 77% of murders were committed with a firearm in 2020. In some states, guns were involved in nearly 90% of homicide cases.
Using data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states where the most murders are committed with a gun. States are ranked by the share of homicides in 2020 that involved a gun, from the smallest to the largest.
It is important to note that in many states, not all reported homicides have an associated weapon type, and only states for which at least 75% of murders had an associated weapon were considered for this story. As a result, five states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania – were excluded from analysis.
Nationwide, handguns are by far the most commonly used firearm in murder cases. In most states, more murders are committed with a handgun than every other type of firearm combined.
States in which firearms are used for a larger than average share of murders also tend to have higher than average murder rates. In eight of the 10 highest ranking states on this list, the homicide rate exceeds the national rate of 6.5 murders for every 100,000 people. (Here is a look at America’s most violent and peaceful states.)
Click here to see the states where the most murders are committed with a gun.
Click here to read our detailed methodology.
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