The Top 10 Most Heavily-Armed States In America (Is Yours On The List?)
Which state has the most firearms per capita?
The U.S. has the most firearms per capita of any country in the world. in 2015, the Deseret News reported reported Americans own guns at a staggering rate of 88.8 firearms per 100 people. And with record gun sales since, it’s no wonder we have the highest rate of gun homicides, (3.21 per 100,000 people), among the world’s wealthy nations. In fact, firearms-related deaths comprise 67.5 percent of all homicides here in the Land of the Free.
While the U.S. houses less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the country has approximately 35-50 percent of civilian-owned guns worldwide, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
But if we have the most guns per person of any country in the world, which state has the most firearms per capita? In 2015, CBS News crunched data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)’s 2014 report and the estimated population of each state for 2013 from the U.S. Census, and came up with the following list:
- Wyoming: 195.7 firearms per 1,000 people.
- District of Columbia: 66.4 firearms per 1,000 people.
- Arkansas: 41.6 firearms per 1,000 people.
- New Mexico: 40.5 firearms per 1,000 people.
- Virginia: 30.1 firearms per 1,000 people.
- Idaho: 24.2 firearms per 1,000 people.
- Alabama: 20 firearms per 1,000 people.
- Nevada: 19.5 firearms per 1,000 people.
- Alaska: 15.2 firearms per 1,000 people.
- Louisiana: 15.1 firearms per 1,000 people.
To see how many firearms per capita there are where you live, find your state in the map below, and move your cursor over it. The darker the state, the more guns there are per person. Alas, the rate of firearms per capita is so drastically higher in Wyoming, even the states with the next-highest rates literally pale in comparison.
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For a complete list of all 50 states, (plus the District of Columbia), with the number of firearms per capita, the total number of firearms registered, and the total population for each state, take a look at the spreadsheet below.
Of course, these figures only reflect the number of firearms per capita that are legally owned and registered by people in these states. It is also unclear whether this means a lot of people are buying a lot of guns, or whether just a few people are buying a heckuva lot of guns.
The percent of gun owners and the rate of gun deaths go hand in hand.
While the firearms per capita numbers are definitely an eye-opener, the numbers that seem to matter even more are the percentages of people in a state who own firearms. In June, a study on Gun ownership and social gun culture from Columbia University found a strong correlation between the percent of people who own firearms and the rate of gun deaths. Bindu Balesan, an assistant professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health told reporters:
“When you look at different states, you see a wide variation in these rates, and it mirrors the gun death rate.”
The study surveyed 4,000 adults across the country and found that people surrounded by a strong gun culture were more than 2.25 times more likely to own a firearm.
In many parts of the country, these social norms include participation in social activities around gun ownership. These social gun cultures have rarely been formally studied but may be important determinants of gun ownership.”
The folks from Business Insider went through the study’s findings to create this map with the percent of people who own guns by state. While some states who rank in the top 10 for firearms per capita also come out on top here, (Wyoming, Arkansas, Idaho, Nevada, Alaska), and a couple more are close, (New Mexico and Louisiana), the maps don’t correlate as closely as you’d think.
The map below has a lot more in common with the map above. Created in 2012 by Zara Matheson at the Martin Prosperity Institute with data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), her map shows the rate of gun deaths by state. As you can see, the shadings, (darker for higher rates of gun deaths), look similar to the shadings above, (which are darker for higher rates of gun ownership). In other words, there appears to be a strong correlation between the rate of gun ownership and the rate of gun deaths.
When will America come to grips with this problem?
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Elisabeth Parker is a writer, web designer, mom, political junkie, and dilettante.