News Analysis: RI, MA Have Among Lowest Gun Death Rates in U.S.

Jan 24, 2018

In a front-page story on Wednesday, The New York Times pointed out that school shootings have become so common that Tuesday’s shooting at a school in the small Kentucky town of Benton was one of 11 shootings involving school properties since Jan. 1st.

Credit Flo Jonic

In the Kentucky shooting, two 15-year old students were killed and 17 other people were injured.

“Gunfire ringing out in American schools used to be rare, and shocking. Now it seems to happen all the time,” the article stated.

The numbers beg the question: Have Americans become numb to school shootings? Are they seen as the New Normal in a nation where the federal government refuses to address any aspect of mass shootings?

Rhode Island and Massachusetts have been luckier than many other states in mass school shootings, but that doesn’t mean much these days. What is hopeful are the latest state rankings of gun deaths by the Violence Policy Center, based on 2016 date from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention.

Nationwide, the overall gun death rate, which includes homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings, has increased from 10.21 per 100,000 in 2009 to 11.96 per 100,000 in 2016.

The five states with the highest gun death rates are Alaska, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma. All of those states have high household gun ownership rates, with Alaska and Mississippi above 50 percent, Alabama at 49.5 percent, Louisiana at 49 percent and Oklahoma at 46.7 percent.

The five states with the lowest gun death rates are Massachusetts, New York, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Massachusetts had a 14.3 percent gun ownership rate by household. Rhode Island’s was 15.9 percent, Connecticut and New York both  at 22.2 percent and Hawaii at 12.5 percent.

The states with low gun death rates also are states with stronger gun control laws, according to the study.