By Mason Johnson
With Chicago’s hyperbolic reputation when it comes to gun violence, data like this can be perplexing. If this data is right though, Illinois ranks rather low when it comes to gun deaths when compared to other states.
Violence Policy Center (VPC), a non-profit organization that advocates gun control, recently looked at a number of firearm statistics in the United States: The rate of gun deaths by state, the gun laws by state and the number of gun owners by state.
According to their findings, which used gun death rates from 2011, states with with weaker gun laws and higher gun ownership have a higher rate of gun deaths than states with lower rates of gun ownership and stricter laws.
“The five states with the highest per capita gun death rates in 2011 were Louisiana, Mississippi, Alaska, Wyoming, and Montana. Each of these states has extremely lax gun violence prevention laws as well as a higher rate of gun ownership,” stated VPC’s press release. “The state with the lowest gun death rate in the nation was Rhode Island, followed by Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. Each of these states has strong gun violence prevention laws and has a lower rate of gun ownership.”
Where does Illinois rank? Not in the top 5, obviously. Illinois doesn’t even make the top ten. According to VPC’s chart, Illinois ranked at spot 37, meaning 36 other states have worse gun death rates than Illinois. With a rate of 8.66 gun deaths per 100,000 citizens, Illinois comes in below the national average, which was 10.38 in 2011.
In 2011, Chicago’s homicide rate (including homicides that did not include guns) was about 16. If you were to include the entire Chicago metropolitan area (including nearby suburbs), which the FBI does in their statistics, that number would be significantly lower (in the FBI’s 2012 crime reports, the Chicago metro area’s homicide rate was 7.1).
Of course, correlation does not imply causation, and this study (provided by an organization that actively takes a political stance when it comes to gun control) does not entirely represent gun violence in America.
Still, those are some mighty convincing numbers.