Sustained Outrage

Guns deaths in West Virginia

A new report just published by the Center for American Progress touches on a topic we’ve covered here before: States with the weakest gun laws appear to also suffer the most gun deaths. As the center explains:

In the aftermath of mass shootings and other gun-related tragedies, there is often a surge of interest on the part of community leaders, social-science researchers, and elected officials to root out the causes of gun violence in an effort to prevent such tragedies from occurring again. Any study into the causes of gun violence is necessarily complicated, however, as there are innumerable factors that contribute to the nature and prevalence of gun-related violence in any community.

Despite this complex web of factors that influence the rate of gun violence, this report finds a clear link between high levels of gun violence and weak state gun laws. Across the key indicators of gun violence that we analyzed, the 10 states with the weakest gun laws collectively have an aggregate level of gun violence that is more than twice as high—104 percent higher, in fact—than the 10 states with the strongest gun laws.

West Virginia ranked 16th worst in the center’s aggregate ratings of 10 different measures of gun violence. Our state also had the 7th highest overall rate of gun deaths in 2010, a rate of 14.73 per 100,000 people (compared to the national rate of 10.26 per 100,000 people).

Over the last decade, West Virginia recorded the 12th highest gun death rate in the country — Our 2,584 gun deaths amounted to rate of 14.15 per 100,000 people.

Interestingly, West Virginia’s firearms homicide rate — 2.54 per 100,000 people in 2010 — was better than the national rate of 3.59 and ranked 30th among the states. But our state’s firearms suicide rate was 11.33 per 100,00 people, the 5th highest in the nation and nearly twice the national rate.