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More guns mean more gun deaths

Contrary to gun rights advocacy folklore, the fact of the matter is that statistics clearly and quite unambiguously indicate as a rule, the more guns there are in American households the more likely it is for Americans to be killed by them.

The states with the highest percentages of guns in the homes of adults, which also happen to be the more conservative states with the least restrictive gun ownership laws, are generally the states with the highest gun death rate; whether accounting for the much higher homicide rates for black people or the much higher suicide rates for white people, or just comparing homicide rates for white people state by state.

Alabama is an example of this truth. In Alabama, where 49% of adults have a gun in their homes, the rate of firearm deaths per 100,000 was 16.2; which was the third highest death rate by such means in the entire United States; according to the 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation Study of This number was exceeded only in Alaska—where 55% of adults have a gun in their home (according to the 2004 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey)—which had a firearm death rate of 20.4; and in Louisiana—where 42% of adults of adults have a gun in the home—with a firearm death rate of 19.2 per 100,000.

Mississippi (where 51% of adults have a gun in their home) and Alabama have two of the highest white homicide gun death rates of any states in America. These two are followed by Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas; with respective gun ownership in homes rates of 54%, 42%, and 34%. The death rate of white homicides by firearm per million people in Mississippi is 34. In Alabama it is 30 people. In Arkansas and Louisiana it is 29; and in Texas the number is 28 homicide deaths by firearm per million people according to a recent Washington Post analysis of 2008-2010 mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control.

On the other hand, the states of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey represent five of the six states (the other being Hawaii) with the lowest rates of firearm deaths per 100,000. The ownership (percentage) rates of adults with guns in their homes in these states are 11% for Rhode Island and Massachusetts, 17% in Connecticut and New York, and 10% in New Jersey. The rates of firearm deaths per 100,000 in these states are Massachusetts 4.1, Rhode Island 4.6, New York 5.1, New Jersey 5.2, and Connecticut at 5.9. (Hawaii had the lowest such rate at 3.2; but statistical information on gun ownership in Hawaiian homes weren’t available.)

The comparative white homicide rate death rates per one million people in these states (compared to those of the more conservative states referenced above, with relatively much less restrictive gun laws) are significantly different. For every one million people (from 2008-2010) there were four white homicides in Massachusetts, five in New Jersey, and six each in Connecticut and New York. Rhode Island actually had an insufficient number of incidents of white homicides per million people for the calculation of a rate.

In other words, any way it is measured, when comparing the 50 state American laboratories of democracy with each other, the evidence reveals that the more guns that Americans have at their ready availability, the more likely it is that Americans will also be shot and killed by guns.


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