States with the Most (& Least) Gun Deaths [+ Causes]

The states with the most gun deaths averaged 596 gun deaths in the last year of our study of gun deaths by state. African Americans suffer the highest rates of firearm deaths at 23.2 deaths out of every 100,000 persons. Gun ownership is deeply ingrained in American culture, with three out of every 10 Americans owning a firearm.

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Natasha McLachlan is a writer who currently lives in Southern California. She is an alumna of California College of the Arts, where she obtained her B.A. in Writing and Literature. Her current work revolves around insurance guides and informational articles. She truly enjoys helping others learn more about everyday, practical matters through her work.

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent

UPDATED: Apr 30, 2021

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The Rundown

  • The Northeast and West Coast regions have the fewest gun deaths
  • The South experiences the most gun deaths out of every region
  • Hawaii sees the fewest gun deaths with 2.5 deaths per 100K residents
  • Suicide is the leading cause of firearm deaths, accounting for over 60%

Sharp increases in firearm fatalities, as well as the aftermath of recent shootings in Jersey City, El Paso, and Dayton, have kept the issue of gun violence in the news. In this article, we’ll focus on gun deaths in America, specifically the states with the most gun deaths as well as the states with the least gun deaths. This includes answering the question: “What state has the most gun violence?” We’ll also look into two broader questions:

  1. Is gun violence a serious problem in America?
  2. What could be done to reduce gun violence?

Here are some cold hard gun violence stats taken from the CDC gun deaths database. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), deaths due to gun violence rose by 16.5 percent between 2007 and 2017, countering a long-term downward trend. In 2017 alone, there were 39,773 firearm fatalities nationwide, a rate of 12 fatalities per 100,000 residents.

Graph of spike in firearm fatalities over time including injury intent

Most firearm fatalities are the result of suicide, homicide, unintentional injuries, or interactions with law enforcement (legal interventions).

While the rates of unintentional injuries, legal intervention, and other less common forms of firearm fatalities have remained relatively flat over the past decade, the rate of firearm-related suicides and firearm-related homicides increased by a staggering 23.2 percent and 9.5 percent respectively since 2007.

Suicide now represents nearly 60 percent of all firearm fatalities, accounting for 23,854 deaths in 2017.

Although gun violence is a nationwide issue, the firearm fatality rate varies widely by location. At the state level, certain Midwest and Southern states suffer firearm fatality rates that are 1.5 to two times the national average.

Conversely, Northeast and West Coast states tend to experience lower levels of gun violence. The following graphic is a gun violence by state map which looks at gun violence statistics by state.

Geographic firearm fatalities by state with the most deaths

To find which individual states have the highest and lowest firearm fatality rates, our researchers at U.S. Insurance Agents analyzed the cause of death data from the CDC’s WONDER database. To make the data comparable across states, all death rates are age-adjusted and expressed per 100,000 residents.

Additionally, for each state, our researchers identified the 10-year change in firearm deaths, the most common cause of firearm death, the racial group with the highest firearm fatality rate, as well as the county with the highest firearm fatality rate.

If you’re on this page, you’re likely looking for car insurance as well. But if you’re like many Americans, you may find car insurance confusing. The terminology and lack of clear-cut factors that go into your rates make purchasing car insurance a bit like pulling a tooth.

For that reason, we’ve put together a car insurance page that links to articles about numerous car insurance coverages. The page is educational so that you have a better understanding of what car insurance coverages you might need and ones you might not.

While gun violence can raise car insurance rates in your area, getting quotes can help you find savings. If you’re looking to jump right into getting a quote, just enter your ZIP code into our FREE online quote comparison tool. It’ll give you the best car insurance rates for your area based on your demographic information.

Now, here are the states with the highest and lowest gun fatality rates.

10 States with the Highest Firearm Death Rates

#1 – Alaska

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 24.5 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: 35.4%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 180
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Suicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Most impacted county: Anchorage Borough (24.6 per 100k)

#2 – Alabama

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 22.9 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: 32.4%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 1,124
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Suicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: Black or African American
  • Most impacted county: Tie: Talladega County, Russell County (34.2 per 100k)

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#3 – Montana

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 22.5 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: 64.2%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 244
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Suicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: White
  • Most impacted county: Cascade County (24.6 per 100k)

#4 – Louisiana

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 21.7 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: 9.0%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 1,008
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Homicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: Black or African American
  • Most impacted county: Orleans Parish (38.2 per 100k)

#5 – Mississippi

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 21.5 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: 17.5%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 632
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Tie: Homicide, Suicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: Black or African American
  • Most impacted county: Washington County (46.5 per 100k)

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#6 – Missouri

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 21.5 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: 68.0%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 1,307
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Suicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: Black or African American
  • Most impacted county: St. Louis County (56.8 per 100k)

#7 – Arkansas

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 20.3 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: 34.4%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 613
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Suicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: Black or African American
  • Most impacted county: Jefferson County (49.9 per 100k)

#8 – Wyoming

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 18.8 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: 27.9%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 113
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Suicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: White
  • Most impacted county: Laramie County (20.8 per 100k)

#9 – West Virginia

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 18.6 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: 31.9%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 348
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Suicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: White
  • Most impacted county: Mercer County (30.1 per 100k)

#10 – New Mexico

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 18.5 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: 24.2%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 394
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Suicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: White
  • Most impacted county: Otero County (30.2 per 100k)

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10 States with the Lowest Firearm Death Rates

#1 – Hawaii

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 2.5 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: 0.0%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 39
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Suicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: White
  • Most impacted county: NA

#2 – New York

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 3.7 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: -27.5%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 772
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Suicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: Black or African American
  • Most impacted county: Erie County (7.6 per 100k)

#3 – Massachusetts

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 3.7 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: 2.8%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 262
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Suicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: Black or African American
  • Most impacted county: Hampden County (8.6 per 100k)

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#4 – Rhode Island

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 3.9 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: 14.7%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 43
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Suicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: White
  • Most impacted county: Providence County (4.1 per 100k)

#5 – Connecticut

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 5.1 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: 24.4%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 188
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Suicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: Black or African American
  • Most impacted county: Hartford County (6.3 per 100k)

#6 – New Jersey

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 5.3 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: 1.9%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 478
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Homicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: Black or African American
  • Most impacted county: Essex County (12.1 per 100k)

#7 – California

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 7.9 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: -11.2%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 3184
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Suicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: Black or African American
  • Most impacted county: Mendocino County (21.3 per 100k)

#8 – Minnesota

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 8.2 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: 26.2%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 465
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Suicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: Black or African American
  • Most impacted county: Ramsey County (9.7 per 100k)

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#9 – Nebraska

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 8.3 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: 5.1%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 160
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Suicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: White
  • Most impacted county: Douglas County (8.5 per 100k)

#10 – Iowa

  • Firearm death rate (age-adjusted): 9 per 100k
  • 10-year percent change: 80.0%
  • Total firearm deaths 2017: 293
  • Most common cause of firearm death: Suicide
  • Most impacted race/ethnicity: Black or African American
  • Most impacted county: Polk County (10.5 per 100k)

All States Ranked by Gun Deaths

If your state was not in either of the lists above, you might be anxious to find out how bad (or not) gun deaths are in your state. The following table is a complete ranking of gun deaths by state from Alaska to Hawaii.

It looks at gun deaths per year in the US both in terms of states and holistically. Through the gun violence statistics per year (specifically 2017), we can see that it is a serious problem.

States with the Most Gun Deaths
StateFirearm Death RatePercent ChangeFirearms Deaths: 2017Most Common CauseRace Most ImpactedCounty Most ImpactedRank
HI2.50.0%39SuicideWhite, Not Hispanic or LatinoNA51
NY3.7-27.5%772SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoErie County (7.6 per 100k)50
MA3.72.8%262SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoHampden County (8.6 per 100k)49
RI3.914.7%43SuicideWhite, Not Hispanic or LatinoProvidence County (4.1 per 100k)48
CT5.124.4%188SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoHartford County (6.3 per 100k)47
NJ5.31.9%478HomicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoEssex County (12.1 per 100k)46
CA7.9-11.2%3184SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoMendocino County (21.3 per 100k)45
MN8.226.2%465SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoRamsey County (9.7 per 100k)44
NE8.35.1%160SuicideWhite, Not Hispanic or LatinoDouglas County (8.5 per 100k)43
IA980.0%293SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoPolk County (10.5 per 100k)42
NH10.485.7%146SuicideWhite, Not Hispanic or LatinoRockingham County (11 per 100k)41
WI10.623.3%624SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoMilwaukee County (19.2 per 100k)40
WI11.133.7%849SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoLewis County (25.1 per 100k)39
MI11.32.7%1138SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoWayne County (19.7 per 100k)38
VT11.742.7%70SuicideWhite, Not Hispanic or LatinoNA37
ME11.753.9%172SuicideWhite, Not Hispanic or LatinoKennebec County (15.8 per 100k)36
DE11.731.5%111HomicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoNew Castle County (12.4 per 100k)35
VA11.914.4%1041SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoRoanoke city (23.3 per 100k)34
SD11.991.9%101SuicideWhite, Not Hispanic or LatinoMinnehaha County (13.6 per 100k)33
OR12.122.2%528SuicideWhite, Not Hispanic or LatinoKlamath County (31.5 per 100k)32
IL12.149.4%1543HomicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoSt. Clair County (27.6 per 100k)31
MD12.31.7%742HomicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoBaltimore city (42.6 per 100k)30
TX12.413.8%3513SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoWilson County (54.3 per 100k)29
FL12.42.5%2724SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoHighlands County (21.7 per 100k)28
PA12.519.0%1636SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoCambria County (21.3 per 100k)27
DC13.1-39.4%100HomicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoDistrict of Columbia (13.1 per 100k)26
ND13.257.1%103SuicideWhite, Not Hispanic or LatinoNA25
CO13.428.8%779SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoPueblo County (21.8 per 100k)24
OH13.742.7%1589SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoTrumbull County (22.7 per 100k)23
NC13.712.3%1430SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoSurry County (31.6 per 100k)22
UT1430.8%410SuicideWhite, Not Hispanic or LatinoWashington County (18.1 per 100k)21
IN15.345.7%1016SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoMarion County (23.1 per 100k)20
GA15.414.1%1623SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoMuscogee County (29.6 per 100k)19
AZ15.82.6%1134SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoNavajo County (31.7 per 100k)18
KS1653.8%466SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoWyandotte County (28.5 per 100k)17
KY16.214.1%730SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoJefferson County (21 per 100k)16
ID16.429.1%280SuicideWhite, Not Hispanic or LatinoBannock County (26.4 per 100k)15
NV16.75.0%508SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoTie: Washoe County, Clark County (16.4 per 100k)14
OK17.230.3%681SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoComanche County (20.4 per 100k)13
SC17.735.1%893SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoDarlington County (37.9 per 100k)12
TN18.424.3%1246SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoShelby County (26.6 per 100k)11
NM18.524.2%394SuicideWhite, Not Hispanic or LatinoOtero County (30.2 per 100k)10
WV18.631.9%348SuicideWhite, Not Hispanic or LatinoMercer County (30.1 per 100k)9
WY18.827.9%113SuicideWhite, Not Hispanic or LatinoLaramie County (20.8 per 100k)8
AR20.334.4%613SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoJefferson County (49.9 per 100k)7
MO21.568.0%1307SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoSt. Louis city (56.8 per 100k)6
MS21.517.5%632Tie: Homicide, SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoWashington County (46.5 per 100k)5
LA21.79.0%1008HomicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoOrleans Parish (38.2 per 100k)4
MT22.564.2%244SuicideWhite, Not Hispanic or LatinoCascade County (24.6 per 100k)3
AL22.932.4%1124SuicideBlack or African American, Not Hispanic or LatinoTie: Talladega County, Russell County (34.2 per 100k)2
AK24.535.4%180SuicideAmerican Indian or Alaska Native, Not Hispanic or LatinoAnchorage Borough (24.6 per 100k)1
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Methodology: Determining the Ranking for Gun Deaths by State

All gun death statistics were obtained from the Centers for Disease Control’s WONDER database. Age-adjusted death rates were obtained for all deaths caused by firearms in 2007 and in 2017, the most recent year for which information is available.

The change in the death rate was calculated as the percent change in the age-adjusted death rate between 2007 and 2017. All death rates are reported as the number of deaths per 100,000 residents.

This statistic levels the playing field and makes sure that the “worst states for gun deaths” are not just the states with the largest populations. This method of statistical analysis might also be thought of as:

  • States with the most gun deaths per capita
  • States with the most gun violence per capita

For the purpose of this analysis, persons of Hispanic or Latino descent were categorized as a separate racial group independent from non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks or African Americans, non-Hispanic Asians or Pacific Islanders, and non-Hispanic American Indians or Alaskan Natives.

Between 2007 and 2017, South Dakota had the largest jump in the firearm death rate, with an increase of over 91 percent.

By contrast, New York, California, and the District of Columbia all had decreases in the firearm death rate over this time period.

Overall, the states with the highest increases in firearm fatalities from 2007 to 2017 are located in the North, with states like New Hampshire, South Dakota, Montana, and Maine all experiencing increases over 50 percent.

Percent change in gun-related fatalities by state

In addition, some demographics are more adversely affected by gun violence than others. Specifically, African Americans suffer the highest firearm fatality rate at 23.2 deaths per 100,000, nearly double the national rate.

At a more granular level, African Americans are the most impacted racial group in 35 states. Conversely, Asians and Hispanics are the least likely groups to be victims of gun violence.

Firearm fatalities by race in US

With three out of every 10 Americans owning a firearm, gun culture is still deeply ingrained in American society. High levels of gun ownership, as well as partisan divides, have made legislative action difficult in curtailing the rising number of gun-related deaths.

However, data from Pew Research shows that strong majorities of both gun owners and non-owners support certain policies to prevent gun violence. In particular, both gun owners and non-owners support limiting gun access for people with mental illnesses and individuals who are on the federal no-fly or watch lists.

Furthermore, most gun owners and non-owners support background checks for gun purchases made through private sales and at gun shows. Ultimately, thwarting gun violence will likely require cultural and legislative changes at the local, state, and national levels.

Even though gun violence and gun-related deaths can raise auto insurance rates in your area, shopping around can help you save money. Just plug in your ZIP code into our FREE online quote generator to receive the best car insurance rates for your area based on your demographic information and driving history.

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