The recently released FBI's crime statistics for 2012, once again show the American South dominating the list of states with the highest per capita homicide rates. Louisiana led the nation with a murder rate of 10.8 homicides per 100,000 population. Louisiana's Southern neighbor, Mississippi was second with a homicide rate of 7.4 per 100,000. Alabama (7.1), Michigan (7.0) and South Carolina (6.9) rounded out the top five most murderous U.S. states in 2012. Missouri (6.5), Tennessee (6.0), Georgia and Arkansas also ranked in the top ten states, with Georgia and Arkansas tying for 10th at 5.9 murders per 100,000.
While there are many factors that contribute to a state's homicide rate including poverty, access to rapid emergency medical care, and a myriad of other sociological factors, easy access to firearms is one factor that helps turn aggravated assaults in the South into deadly gun incidents up to and including murder. A domestic dispute where a gun is handy becomes a potentially lethal situation as does a confrontation in public if one or both combatants are armed. While the gun lobby likes to argue that gun control measures increase the homicide risk for "law abiding" citizens, the reality is that easy access to guns correlates strongly to higher homicide rates in the U.S. states. No reasonable person can argue that the reason homicide rates are higher in the American South than in any other region of the country is because the South is too strict with regulating firearms.