Hawaii—surrounded by water, big water—has lowest gun death rate in U.S., and stricter gun control


Following the Uvalde massacre, CNN took a look at individual states’ gun death rates, and one thing stood out: States with lots of guns tend to have lots of gun deaths.

Here’s the rate of gun deaths per 100,000 residents in the states that are most affected by gun violence, according to CNN:

  • Mississippi: 28.6
  • Louisiana: 26.3
  • Wyoming: 25.9
  • Missouri: 23.9
  • Alabama: 23.6
  • Alaska: 23.5

And here are those states’ rates of gun ownership, defined by the percentage of adults who live in a household with at least one gun:

  • Mississippi: 50%
  • Louisiana: 48%
  • Wyoming: 59%
  • Missouri: 48%
  • Alabama: 50%
  • Alaska: 59%

Meanwhile, here are the comparable numbers for the states least affected by gun violence:

  • Hawaii: 3.4 deaths per 100,000 residents (8% live in a household with a gun)
  • Massachusetts: 3.7 (10%)
  • New Jersey: 5 (8%)
  • Rhode Island: 5.1 (11%)
  • New York: 5.3 (14%)

Those are stark numbers—and particularly instructive is Hawaii’s example. After all, it’s enacted stricter anti-gun measures than most states, and the Aloha State doesn’t have to worry nearly as much about guns streaming in from areas with lax gun laws. Because it’s an island, surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water.

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According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun violence prevention advocacy group, Hawaii has the second-strongest gun control laws in the union, after California (whose gun death rate is less than a third of Mississippi’s).

So it’s important to compare apples and oranges—or pineapples and oranges, as it were. Chicago is a big city, but for all intents and purposes, it’s bordered by relatively gun-friendly Wisconsin and Indiana. And as much as I’d like to put moats around all the blue states to keep guns and Kid Rock and seven-layer mayonnaise-based salads out, that’s just not realistic.

So maybe instead of a patchwork of gun laws, we could all follow Hawaii’s example and settle on the ones that really work. But before we do any of that, we’ll need to enact far stricter Republican control.

Make it so.  

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