More than two-thirds of all homicides in the United States are gun-related. Of the 16,121 homicides reported in 2013, 11,208 were caused by gun violence. Including suicides, nearly 34,000 people died in gun-related incidents in 2013, up 13.8% from 10 years earlier.
Click here to see the 10 states with the most gun violence.
Suicide is the leading cause of gun-related deaths across the country in recent years. Of the 33,636 firearm deaths in 2013, more than 21,000 were suicides. In fact, suicide accounted for more than half of gun-related deaths in all but one state with the most gun violence. In three states — Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming — suicide accounted for more than 80% of all firearm deaths.
24/7 Wall St. discussed the CDC’s figures with John Roman, senior fellow at the Urban Institute, an economic and social policy think tank. Roman explained that states with the highest rates of suicide often have the strongest culture of gun ownership in the country. “There are many more suicides in places where it’s easy to get a gun,” he said.
While federal gun laws are uniform across the country, state regulations vary, offering more lax or more strict approaches to firearm use. Seven of the 10 states with the most firearm deaths in 2013 have enacted stand your ground laws. In keeping with a state’s culture, Roman explained, many states with these laws likely also have laws that make it easier to possess firearms and buy ammunition.
In fact, none of the states with the most gun violence require permits to purchase rifles, shotguns, or handguns. Gun owners are also not required to register their weapons in any of these states. Meanwhile, many of the states with the least gun violence require a permit or other form of identification to buy a gun.
Gun-related homicides were also relatively frequent in the states with the most gun violence. Nationally, there were 3.61 homicides per 100,000 people. Seven of the the 10 states with the most gun violence reported homicide rates higher than the national rate. Louisiana is one of only four states in the country where homicides accounted for a larger share of firearm deaths than suicides. In 2013, Louisiana reported nearly 10 homicides per 100,000 residents, the highest rate in the country.