Where Strict Gun Laws Work: 11 States With the Lowest Firearm Fatality Rates in the US

The moment a gun is fired, someone’s life could be changed forever. Gun violence in the United States has become an unfortunate reality, affecting all Americans no matter where they live. But as the nation struggles to grapple with an increasing number of firearm fatalities each year, some states are doing better than others.
We‘ve looked at the data from the CDC to identify 11 states with the lowest firearm fatality rates in America as well as contributing factors that helped keep them from being swept up in the gun violence epidemic.

1. Massachusetts

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Topping the list as the safest state in terms of firearm fatalities is Massachusetts. The state’s stringent gun control measures, including background checks and licensing requirements, contribute to its low rate of gun-related deaths. In 2021, Massachusetts reported 247 firearm deaths, resulting in a rate of 3.4 deaths per 100,000 residents.

2. Hawaii

Skyline of Honolulu, Hawaii and the surrounding area including the hotels and buildings on Waikiki Beach
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Known for its strict gun laws and isolated geographical location, Hawaii ranks second on the list. The state’s rigorous background checks and limited gun ownership contribute to its low firearm fatality rate. In 2021, Hawaii witnessed 71 firearm deaths, translating to a rate of 3.8 deaths per 100,000 residents.

3. New Jersey

Newark, New Jersey, USA skyline on the Passaic River.
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New Jersey’s robust gun control regulations and comprehensive background checks contribute to its position as one of the safest states for firearm fatalities. The state’s emphasis on public safety and strong enforcement mechanisms plays a crucial role in reducing gun-related deaths. In 2021, New Jersey recorded 475 firearm deaths, accounting for a rate of 5.2 deaths per 100,000 residents.

4. New York

The Empire State Building
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With its strict gun control laws and proactive measures to combat gun violence, New York ranks among the safest states. The state’s investment in community policing, violence prevention programs, and mental health services contribute to its success. In 2021, New York reported 1078 firearm deaths, resulting in a rate of 5.4 deaths per 100,000 residents.

5. Rhode Island

Providence Rhode island
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Rhode Island’s small size and strict gun regulations contribute to its relatively low firearm fatality rate. The state’s focus on mental health services and community outreach programs helps prevent gun-related incidents. In 2021, Rhode Island witnessed 64 firearm deaths, accounting for a rate of 5.6 deaths per 100,000 residents.

6. Connecticut

Hartford, Connecticut, USA downtown skyline.
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Connecticut’s comprehensive gun control laws, including mandatory background checks and an assault weapons ban, contribute to its position among the safest states for firearm fatalities. The state’s investment in mental health resources and violence prevention initiatives further enhances its safety. In 2021, Connecticut reported 248 firearm deaths, translating to a rate of 6.7 deaths per 100,000 residents.

7. New Hampshire

New Hampshire
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New Hampshire’s relatively low population density and strong community support contribute to its position on this list. The state’s emphasis on responsible gun ownership and access to mental health resources helps prevent firearm fatalities. In 2021, New Hampshire recorded 123 firearm deaths, accounting for a rate of 8.3 deaths per 100,000 residents.

8. California

Famous landmark Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles, California.
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Despite its large population, California has implemented stringent gun control laws, contributing to its position as one of the safest states for firearm fatalities. The state’s focus on background checks, waiting periods, and restrictions on assault weapons has played a role in reducing gun-related deaths. In 2021, California witnessed 3576 firearm deaths, resulting in a rate of 9 deaths per 100,000 residents.

9. Minnesota

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Minnesota’s comprehensive background check system and strong community engagement contribute to its relatively low firearm fatality rate. The state’s investment in mental health services and prevention programs helps address the root causes of gun violence. In 2021, Minnesota reported 573 firearm deaths, translating to a rate of 10 deaths per 100,000 residents.

10. Nebraska

Omaha, Nebraska
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Nebraska’s location in the heart of America and its small population size contributes to its position on this list. The state has enacted regulations on assault weapons and implemented background checks for gun purchases, helping reduce firearm fatalities. In 2021, Nebraska witnessed 200 firearm deaths, resulting in a rate of 10.3 deaths per 100,000 residents.

11. Iowa

Aerial View of the Des Moine, Iowa Skyline facing West
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A big chunk of the credit for Iowa’s low firearm fatality rate goes to its stringent gun laws. In 2021, the state reported 364 firearm deaths, resulting in a rate of 11.2 deaths per 100,000 residents. However, its permit-to-purchase and concealed carry permitting requirements were scrapped by the state legislature within the same year, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see if that changes the landscape.

The Safest States in the US for Firearm Deaths

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While the data suggests that certain actions taken by specific states have contributed to a decrease in gun-related fatalities, it is important to note that there is still much work to be done. Ultimately, it is up to all of us – from individuals to elected officials – to do our part in creating a safer future for everyone.

By working together and prioritizing solutions such as increasing education on responsible gun ownership, increasing access to mental health services, and advocating for laws that prioritize safety over politics, we can continue to make progress toward ultimately reducing gun-related deaths in the future.

This article used data from the CDC.

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