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Gun violence in the United States resulted in more than 30,000 annual fatalities. Read our detailed analysis on correlation between gun death, gun ownership and gun laws, completed with interactive heat map.

How many people are killed each year by guns in the USA?

33,390 people were killed by guns, which represents 0.01% of the whole population in 2014. In the same year, American’s average gun death rate was 11.4 deaths per 100,000 population. This is based on data supplied by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. This rate is comparable to Uruguay which had 11.52 gun deaths rate.

You can also download USA’s Gun Death by State (2014), which contains the number of deaths per 100,000 total population across 51 states and district, overlaid with relevant FBI NICS Background Checks and USA Population Estimates. Total 51 records for all 50 states and the federal district.  We also include the chart used in this article for your illustration purposes. The file format is Excel spreadsheet, which is already scanned using Virus Total.  Follow the instructions below to download it.

What is the state with the highest gun death rate?

According to the data published by CDC in 2014, the top 5 states with the highest gun death rate are:

  1. Louisiana is the state with the highest gun death rate in the US. It had 890 firearm deaths or 18.9 deaths per 100,000 population
  2. Alaska is on the second place, with 142 deaths or the death rate was 18.8
  3. The third place is Mississippi. It had 539 deaths with death rate of 18
  4. Alabama had 808 deaths with death rate of 16.7
  5. Arkansas had 491 deaths with the rate of 16.4

California USA

California had the highest number of gun deaths in 2014, with a total of 2,935 people died. In contrast, considering its large population size being 38.8 million in 2014, this rate is actually below average.

What is the state with the lowest gun death rate?

The top 5 states with the lowest gun death rate are:

  1. Hawaii had the lowest gun death rate in the US. 40 people died in 2014 which is equivalent to 2.6 deaths per 100,000 population. Hawaii also had the third lowest rate of NICS firearm background check.
  2. Rhode Island has the second lowest rank with 33 deaths or the rate was 2.9. This state also had the fifth lowest rate of gun background check.
  3. The third position is Massachusetts. The rate was 3.3, with 227 people died.
  4. New York’s rate was 4.2, with 869 firearm deaths.
  5. Connecticut’s rate was 4.9 with 186 gun deaths.

Rhode Island

As described above, Rhode Island had the lowest number of firearm deaths in 2014, with just 33 fatalities.

Gun Death Comparison Chart Using Heat Map

Use the following interactive heat map to explore 33,390 annual gun deaths in America occurred in 2014.  The graphic contains all states and district in the USA based on data supplied by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (CDC) and FBI NICS Background Checks from January 2014 to December 2014. When you click or hover on a state or district, you will reveal the gun death rate with its corresponding ranking and also the rank of NICS firearm check rate. The smaller the rank, the better.

Did the states with the strictest gun control laws also have lower gun fatalities?

The ‘Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence’ is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing the loss of lives caused by gun violence. They reviewed the states and summarized three states with the most stringent gun laws, which are California, Connecticut and New Jersey. We compared their analysis with the gun death rate to see if strict gun regulations could result in more effective gun safety measures.

  1. California’s gun death rate was ranked the 8th lowest in 2014.
  2. Connecticut’s firearm fatalities were 186, which was the 5th
  3. New Jersey’s rate was the 6th

Apparently the states with the strictest gun control have relatively low rate of fatalities.

Did the states with the loosest gun control laws also have higher gun deaths?

Using the same approach, we reviewed the report from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence which highlighted three states with the loosest gun laws which are Louisiana, Mississippi and Arizona. We compared these states against the CDC data to see whether loose gun regulations could result in worse gun fatalities. Refer to the results below.

  1. Louisiana’s firearm death rate was 18.9 per 100,000 population. This is one of the worst in the U.S.
  2. Mississippi’s gun death rate was 18, which is also one of the worst.
  3. Arizona’s rate was 13.4, which is above the national average of 11.4.

The above data indicates that there is a strong correlation between loose gun control and high number of gun fatalities.

National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)

Why using the NICS data for firearm background check in this article? The NICS data indicates volume of firearms transfers to eligible gun buyers. Before selling a firearm, the sellers are required to perform an NICS check. This is to verify if the customer does not have a criminal record or is not otherwise ineligible to make a purchase. FBI’s statistics show that one in every 177 checks that have been made, one request will be denied.

Our intention to use NICS data is to give you a comparison between gun death and gun ownership (or potentially, transfer of ownership).

If a state has a significantly higher gun death ratio, does it also mean it has a relatively high ratio of NICS check? Yes, apparently there are some correlations. For instance, the top 4 states with the lowest ratio of gun deaths are Hawaii, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York. All of these states also have some of the lowest ratio of NICS check.

However, is this always the case? No. For example, there were 890 people gun deaths in Louisiana in 2014, which was the worst rate in the USA. However, Louisiana’s NICS check rate is below average.

Ratio between Gun Death and Firearm Background Check

The following chart illustrates the ratio between gun death and firearm background check. For contextual purpose, we overlaid the chart with relevant population data from 2014. The firearm background check is a good source of information to assess the rate of gun ownership.

The key takeaways are as follows.

Which states had the lowest gun death compared to gun ownership rate?

  1. Kentucky had the lowest gun death rate compared to gun ownership rate. In Kentucky, 627 people died in 2014 caused by guns, whereas 2,492,184 firearm background checks were performed in the same year.
  2. Connecticut had the second lowest gun fatalities rate compared to gun ownership rate. Connecticut also had one of the lowest gun death rate in the USA. It ranked the 5th lowest in 2014.
  3. Minnesota had the third lowest gun death rate compared to their gun ownership rate

Which states had the highest gun death compared to their gun ownership rate?

  1. New Jersey had the highest gun death rate compared to gun ownership rate. In New Jersey, 468 died caused by firearm in 2014, whereas 92,320 gun checks were performed in the same year.
  2. Maryland had the second highest gun death rate compared to gun ownership rate.
  3. Nevada had the third highest firearm death rate compared to their gun ownership rate.

Use the following chart to explore other states. For practical illustration purpose, we exclude District of Columbia as it had an extreme outlier. DC had the highest gun death to firearm check ratio in 2014. Download the data pack used in this article to see full details of gun death, ownership and population for each state and district in the U.S. Refer to instruction above.

Gun Death to Gun Ownership Ratio in the USA

The top 3 interesting facts of gun death and gun ownership in the USA are:

  1. California had the largest population, however with low ratio between gun death and firearm check.
  2. Nevada’s firearm fatalities rate is above average (14.7 vs 11.4), however its firearm check rate is actually significantly lower than average (4,112 vs 7,584). This indicates that Nevada had lower gun ownership rate.
  3. District of Columbia had the highest gun fatalities to firearm check ratio.

See also

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