PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island has the lowest gun-death rate in the country, 3.14 deaths per 100,000 people, based on 2011 data released in a new study by the national nonprofit Violence Policy Center.
State gun death rates are calculated by dividing the number of gun deaths by the total state population and multiplying the result by 100,000 to obtain the rate per 100,000.
The states with the lowest overall gun-death rates unsurprisingly have lower rates of gun ownership and stronger gun violence prevention laws, the organization said, while the opposite is true of states with high rates of gun-related deaths.
The Violence Policy Center defined states with “weak” gun violence prevention laws as those with laws permitting the open or concealed carrying of firearms in public. States with “strong” gun violence prevention laws were defined as those that add significant state regulation on top of federal law, such as restricting access to particularly hazardous firearms such as assault weapons, setting minimum safety standards for firearms and, and restricting the open and concealed carrying of firearms in public.
In Rhode Island, with the lowest rate nationwide, 13.3 percent of residents own guns, compared with 45.6 percent in Louisiana, which topped the list with the highest gun-death rate at 18.91 deaths per 100,000.
Mississippi (17.8 deaths per 100,000), Alaska (17.41 deaths per 100,000), Wyoming (16.92 deaths per 100,000) and Montana (16.74 deaths per 100,000) also ranked among the states with the highest gun-death rates.
Massachusetts claimed the third-lowest gun-death rate in the country, at 3.84 deaths per 100,000, just below Hawaii at 3.56 deaths per 100,000. New York (5.11 deaths per 100,000) and New Jersey (5.46 deaths per 100,000) rounded out the top five.
“Gun violence is preventable, and states can pass effective laws that will dramatically reduce gun death and injury,” states Violence Policy Center Executive Director Josh Sugarmann. “Our analysis also shows that states with weak gun violence prevention laws and easy access to guns pay a severe price with gun death rates far above the national average.”
The nationwide gun death rate in 2011 was 10.38 per 100,000. The total number of Americans killed by gunfire rose to 32,351 in 2011 from 31,672 in 2010.
To view the complete ranking of states by gun deaths per 100,000 in 2011, visit www.vpc.org.