Study says Alaska 3rd Highest State in Gun Deaths

Jun 19, 2014

Gun ownership is common in the United States, thanks to the second amendment, but regulations on their purchase and use differ state by state.  A recently released study shows how gun deaths may be affected by these regulations.  KDLG’s Chase Cavanaugh has more.

The Violence Policy Center in DC has released a study on firearm deaths in America.  They analyzed the amount of gun deaths per 100,000 people, which includes homicides, suicides, and deaths from accidental discharge.  According to VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann, the study’s conclusions were distinct. 

"What we’ve found consistently year after year is that states that have lax gun laws and high rates of gun ownership have the highest rates of overall gun death and the states that have lower rates of gun ownership and more effective and more comprehensive gun laws are always at the bottom as far as the overall rate of gun death."

The top 3 states for gun deaths are Louisiana, Mississippi, Alaska, with Alaska having 17.4 deaths per 100,000 and 60.2% of households owning firearms.  By contrast, the 3 states with the lowest amount of deaths were Rhode Island, Hawaii, and Massachusetts.  The states with the most deaths don’t outright lack gun laws, but Sugarmann says they could use more.

"Generally speaking, they have no additional standards beyond what is required as far as the Federal Standards.  Essentially, if you want to buy a gun from a gun dealer, you go through a background check, the  instant check, and if you pass, you can get the firearm, and there are prohibitions on who can own a firearm; there are prohibited categories.  I think a lot of it is not really taking that next step to expand things like background checks to make sure those who are in prohibited categories can't go outside the gun dealer system, to look at the types of guns that are being purchased and how they're being used, things like assault weapons.  Certainly there's a wide range of accepted approaches that other states have adopted that can hel prevent gun violence, that most of these states n0t only have refused to look at, but sometimes actively dismiss." 

Though acknowledging citizens of these states as being knowledgeable about the guns they own, he says that doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem.

"A lot of times, states like Alaska, or Louisiana and Missisipi, we talk about gun death.  The immediate response is "we know guns, we respect guns, we have a lot of guns, we don't have a gun problem."  The first three are correct, but the fact is Alaska and the other states have a very severe gun problem, and one of the goals of this study year after year is to focus public attention on this issue and break down these myths that we hear all the time." 

The full study is available at VPC’s website.