For Release: Monday, April 23, 2012
States with Strong Gun Laws and Low Rates of Gun Ownership Have Lowest Firearm Death Rates
Washington, DC—States with low gun ownership rates and strong gun laws have the lowest rates of gun death according to a new analysis by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) of 2009 national data (the most recent available) from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.
The analysis reveals that the five states with the lowest per capita gun death rates were Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. Each of these states had a per capita gun death rate far below the national per capita gun death rate of 10.19 per 100,000 for 2009. Each state has strong gun laws and low gun ownership rates. By contrast, states with weak gun laws and higher rates of gun ownership had far higher rates of firearm-related death. Ranking first in the nation for gun death was Louisiana, followed by Wyoming, Alabama, Montana, and Mississippi. (See rankings below for bottom and top five states. See this chart for a ranking of all 50 states.)
VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand states, “Massachusetts’ low gun death rate stands as proof of how long-term, comprehensive firearms regulation can increase public safety and protect communities and families.”
States with the Five LOWEST Per Capita Gun Death Rates
Massachusetts–Rank: 50; Household Gun Ownership: 12.8 percent; Gun Death Rate: 3.14 per 100,000.
Hawaii–Rank: 49; Household Gun Ownership: 9.7 percent; Gun Death Rate: 3.63 per 100,000.
New Jersey–Rank: 48; Household Gun Ownership: 11.3 percent; Gun Death Rate: 4.72 per 100,000.
New York–Rank: 47; Household Gun Ownership: 18.1 percent; Gun Death Rate: 4.90 per 100,000.
Connecticut–Rank: 46; Household Gun Ownership: 16.2 percent; Gun Death Rate: 4.92 per 100,000.
States with the Five HIGHEST Per Capita Gun Death Rates
Louisiana–Rank: 1; Household Gun Ownership: 45.6 percent; Gun Death Rate: 18.03 per 100,000.
Wyoming–Rank: 2; Household Gun Ownership: 62.8 percent; Gun Death Rate: 17.64 per 100,000.
Alabama–Rank: 3; Household Gun Ownership: 57.2 percent; Gun Death Rate: 17.63 per 100,000.
Montana–Rank: 4; Household Gun Ownership: 61.4 percent; Gun Death Rate: 17.03 per 100,000.
Mississippi–Rank: 5; Household Gun Ownership: 54.3 percent; Gun Death Rate: 16.50 per 100,000.
The VPC defined states with “strong” gun laws as those that add significant state regulation in addition to federal law, such as restricting access to particularly hazardous types of firearms (for example, assault weapons), setting minimum safety standards for firearms and/or requiring a permit to purchase a firearm, and restrictive laws governing the open and concealed carrying of firearms in public. States with “weak” gun laws were defined as those that add little or nothing to federal restrictions and have permissive laws governing the open or concealed carrying of firearms in public. State gun ownership rates were obtained from the September 2005 Pediatricsarticle “Prevalence of Household Firearms and Firearm-Storage Practices in the 50 States and the District of Columbia: Findings From the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2002,” which is the most recent comprehensive data available on state gun ownership.