01.10.11

20 Deadliest Gun States

You're five times more likely to die from a gun in Arizona than Hawaii. In the wake of the Giffords massacre, The Daily Beast ranks which states have the worst record of gun fatalities.

You're five times more likely to die from a gun in Arizona than Hawaii. In the wake of the Giffords massacre, The Daily Beast ranks which states have the worst record of gun fatalities. Plus, full coverage of the Arizona shooting.

While the country roots for the survival of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and mourns the death of the six people killed during Saturday's massacre, lawmakers and policy wonks are once again faced with explaining the challenges and limitations of gun regulation and violence across the U.S.

It's difficult to make a direct correlation between legal gun ownership and violence. Jared Lee Loughner may have purchased a gun in Arizona, a state with the most permissive gun laws in America, but there aren't laws in any state that can prevent a person with a clean record from obtaining a firearm for a premeditated massacre. In fact, among the top 20 states with the strictest gun laws, as rated by the Legal Community Against Violence, seven have death rates from guns that are higher than the national average.

Gallery: The 20 Deadliest Gun States

"I am generally skeptical of gun laws," says Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA. "The theory is that gun laws may prevent crimes of passion—domestic crimes, altercations over traffic incidents, or committed by someone who is otherwise law-abiding but has an anger problem… gun-control laws can potentially do something, but the kind of crime by which they can do the least is a mass shooting."

But advocates for gun laws argue that restrictions prevent suicides, gun trafficking and domestic violence. A study commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns last year concluded that the states with the most lenient gun laws are responsible for the guns used in crimes across state lines at much higher rate than states with strict laws, concluding that "certain gun laws are an important component in reducing criminal access to firearms."

"My own belief is that laws are a way of showing that you're doing something, and some of them are actually counter-productive" counters John R. Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime. "You have to ask yourself 'who's most likely to disarm?' The most law-abiding citizens. If you disarm the most law-abiding citizens, you see increases in violence relative to the dropping gun ownership."

Given the complexities involved in gun regulation and violence, The Daily Beast sought to determine which states are the most dangerous when it comes to firearms. Our methodology was simple: Rather than measure the number of guns, we measured the measure of gun deaths per capita in each state, using the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That counted for 75 percent of the ranking. The other 25 percent was derived from the Legal Community Against Violence's state-by-state comparison of firearm laws, which ranks all 50 states by their relatively severity, incorporating everything from policies on mental-health background checks to whether loaded guns are allowed in bars.

See the Full List

#1, Mississippi
Gun deaths per 100,000: 18.3
Permissive gun laws: 4th out of 50

#2, Arizona
Gun deaths per 100,000: 15
Permissive gun laws: 1st out of 50

#3, Alaska
Gun deaths per 100,000: 17.6
Permissive gun laws: 11th out of 50

#4, Arkansas
Gun deaths per 100,000: 15.1
Permissive gun laws: 7th out of 50

#5, Louisiana
Gun deaths per 100,000: 19.9
Permissive gun laws: 23rd out of 50

#6, New Mexico
Gun deaths per 100,000: 15
Permissive gun laws: 6th out of 50

#7, Alabama
Gun deaths per 100,000: 17.6
Permissive gun laws: 27th out of 50

#8, Nevada
Gun deaths per 100,000: 16.2
Permissive gun laws: 22nd out of 50

#9, Montana
Gun deaths per 100,000: 14.5
Permissive gun laws: 10th out of 50

#10, Wyoming
Gun deaths per 100,000: 14.5
Permissive gun laws: 8th out of 50

#11, Kentucky
Gun deaths per 100,000: 14.4
Permissive gun laws: 5th out of 50

#12, West Virginia
Gun deaths per 100,000: 14.8
Permissive gun laws: 25th out of 50

#13, Tennessee
Gun deaths per 100,000: 15
Permissive gun laws: 31st out of 50

#14, Oklahoma
Gun deaths per 100,000: 13.4
Permissive gun laws: 17th out of 50

#15, Idaho
Gun deaths per 100,000: 12.5
Permissive gun laws: 2nd out of 50

#16, Georgia
Gun deaths per 100,000: 13.1
Permissive gun laws: 13th out of 50

#17, Missouri
Gun deaths per 100,000: 12.9
Permissive gun laws: 12th out of 50

#18, South Carolina
Gun deaths per 100,000: 13.4
Permissive gun laws: 20th out of 50

#19, North Carolina
Gun deaths per 100,000: 12.3
Permissive gun laws: 28th out of 50

#20, Florida
Gun deaths per 100,000: 12.5
Permissive gun laws: 41st out of 50

#21, Kansas
Gun deaths per 100,000: 10.5
Permissive gun laws: 14th out of 50

#22, Indiana
Gun deaths per 100,000: 10.6
Permissive gun laws: 21st out of 50

#23, Texas
Gun deaths per 100,000: 10.7
Permissive gun laws: 32nd out of 50

#24, Michigan
Gun deaths per 100,000: 10.9
Permissive gun laws: 39th out of 50

#25, Maryland
Gun deaths per 100,000: 12.1
Permissive gun laws: 44th out of 50

#26, Colorado
Gun deaths per 100,000: 10.4
Permissive gun laws: 24rd out of 50

#27, Pennsylvania
Gun deaths per 100,000: 10.7
Permissive gun laws: 40th out of 50

#28, Virginia
Gun deaths per 100,000: 10.7
Permissive gun laws: 35th out of 50

#29, Utah
Gun deaths per 100,000: 9.5
Permissive gun laws: 18th out of 50

#30, Vermont
Gun deaths per 100,000: 8.4
Permissive gun laws: 3rd out of 50

#31, Oregon
Gun deaths per 100,000: 10.4
Permissive gun laws: 30th out of 50

#32, North Dakota
Gun deaths per 100,000: 8.9
Permissive gun laws: 15th out of 50

#33, Ohio
Gun deaths per 100,000: 9.6
Permissive gun laws: 29th out of 50

#34, Maine
Gun deaths per 100,000: 8.1
Permissive gun laws: 9th out of 50

#35, Delaware
Gun deaths per 100,000: 9.2
Permissive gun laws: 33rd out of 50

#36, Wisconsin
Gun deaths per 100,000: 8.7
Permissive gun laws: 34th out of 50

#37, Nebraska
Gun deaths per 100,000: 8
Permissive gun laws: 19th out of 50

#38, South Dakota
Gun deaths per 100,000: 6.5
Permissive gun laws: 16th out of 50

#39, Washington
Gun deaths per 100,000: 8.5
Permissive gun laws: 37th out of 50

#40, California
Gun deaths per 100,000: 9
Permissive gun laws: 50th out of 50

#41, New Hampshire
Gun deaths per 100,000: 5.9
Permissive gun laws: 26th out of 50

#42, Minnesota
Gun deaths per 100,000: 6.6
Permissive gun laws: 36th out of 50

#43, Illinois
Gun deaths per 100,000: 8
Permissive gun laws: 45th out of 50

#44, Iowa
Gun deaths per 100,000: 5.3
Permissive gun laws: 38th out of 50

#45, New York
Gun deaths per 100,000: 5.1
Permissive gun laws: 43rd out of 50

#46, New Jersey
Gun deaths per 100,000: 5.2
Permissive gun laws: 49th out of 50

#47, Connecticut
Gun deaths per 100,000: 4.3
Permissive gun laws: 46th out of 50

#48, Rhode Island
Gun deaths per 100,000: 3.5
Permissive gun laws: 42nd out of 50

#49, Massachusetts
Gun deaths per 100,000: 3.6
Permissive gun laws: 48th out of 50

#50, Hawaii
Gun deaths per 100,000: 2.8
Permissive gun laws: 47th out of 50