No state is free of firearm fatalities. But these are the states where you statistically have the lowest chance of passing away at the hands of a firearm.
The Data Low-Down
Defining Firearm Fatalities
Firearm fatalities comprise any casualty at the hand of a firearm, including but not limited to mass shootings, accidents, stray bullets, and people taking their own lives.
The Bay State has lots to be proud of, and a low firearm fatality rate is among them. Only 3.4 out of 100,000 people die at the hands of firearms incidents in Massachusetts.
Travelers visiting Massachusetts have many choices, from watching a game at Fenway Park to Hanging out at the Boston Common and exploring Martha’s Vineyard.
Firearm Laws in Massachusetts
Massachusetts has strict firearm safety laws and is one of the only states that bar firearm purchases by those with outstanding warrants. Only 9% of Massachusetts adults own a firearm, which is the second-lowest ownership rate in the US.
2: Rhode Island
Rhode Island has a firearms fatality rate of 4.0 per 100,000 residents.
Visitors to Rhode Island can embark on cliff walks, explore the state capital of Providence, and take a ferry to Block Island.
Firearm Laws in Rhode Island
Rhode Island passed recent legislation targeting domestic violence as it relates to firearms. They’ve also implemented a prohibition on ghost guns and high-capacity magazines.
Some researchers believe that strong firearm laws in the states surrounding Rhode Island help it to have a low firearm mortality rate.
3: New York
New York has a firearm fatality rate of 4.4 per 100,000 people.
While there’s plenty to do day and night in New York City, tourists should make the most of their trip by heading to Upstate NY. There, the Adirondack Mountains, Finger Lakes, and wineries await.
Firearm Laws in New York
New York comes down hard on liability laws against the firearm industry, the first of its kind in the US. Doing so allows the state to hold manufacturers accountable for dangerous company practices.
Everytown Research ranks New York as having the second-strongest firearm laws in the US. The Empire State also has a low rate of firearm ownership.
Hawaii has a firearm fatality rate of 4.5 per 100,000 people.
The Aloha State has eight major islands, atolls, and smaller islets, making it an excellent place for land and boat exploration. Don’t miss the chance to snorkel with Hawaiian green sea turtles!
Firearm Laws in Hawaii
Anyone who wishes to purchase a firearm in Hawaii must apply for a license and attend a firearm safety course. This, in part, helps rank Hawaii as number three in the state for firearm law strength.
Connecticut squeezes into one of the top five spots, with 4.6 firearm fatalities per 100,000 residents.
The Constitution State allows visitors to explore quaint New England towns and relax on scenic beaches. History lovers gravitate to Hartford, which is home to museums, art galleries, and theaters.
Firearm Laws in Connecticut
After the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Connecticut passed legislation to strengthen its firearm laws. Among those laws include prohibiting high-capacity magazines and requiring a background check.
6: New Jersey
New Jersey has a firearm fatality rate of 5.5 per 100,000 people.
Tourists love flocking to Atlantic City, where they can try their hand at gambling around the clock while taking breaks to sunbathe on beaches. For nature lovers, the Delaware Gap National Recreation Area is a must.
Firearm Laws in New Jersey
A permit and background check is required for anyone purchasing a firearm in New Jersey. They have an in-depth concealed carry permit system and strong rules against ghost firearms.
Firearm fatalities increase significantly starting with Minnesota, which has 7.6 fatalities per 100,000 people. However, this is still well below the multi-digit numbers that the most dangerous states by firearm fatalities have.
Minnesota is ideal for people who love being on the water, with over 1,000 miles of canoe routes. Once you want to give your arms a break, put your legs to work at the Superior National Forest.
Firearm Laws in Minnesota
Minnesota’s high ranking on WalletHub’s list favors those supporting looser firearm laws; Everytown Research ranks it towards the bottom of making progress in firearm legislation. High-capacity magazines are legal, there’s no Extreme Risk law, and background checks aren’t required for all firearm sales.
California has a firearm fatality rate of 7.9 per 100,000 residents.
Tourists in California have a plethora of areas to explore, from famous cities like Los Angeles to driving along cliff coastlines and skiing in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Firearm Laws in California
Everytown Research labels California as the number one state for firearm law strength. They have laws ranging from prohibiting the marketing of firearms to children to microstamping technology on all handheld firearms, allowing them to trace crime more easily.
The firearm fatality rate in Maine is 8.2 per 100,000 people.
Lobster is one of the most sought-out foods by tourists in Maine, and you’ll have a slew of restaurant options. Maine is also a great state for lighthouse hopping and visiting historic towns.
Firearm Laws in Maine
Maine has relatively weak firearm laws. They don’t have an Extreme Risk law, a waiting period after purchase, or background check mandates for all firearm sales. Critics say this could be why 89% of firearm deaths result from people taking their life.
Some suggest that Maine has relatively low firearm fatalities because of the strong firearm laws in neighboring states.
Washington has 9.0 firearm fatalities per 100,000 residents.
The Evergreen State offers miles of trails through lush forests during the summer and excellent skiing opportunities in the winter. Tourists seeking a city and world-class culinary vibe will find plenty to do in Seattle.
Firearm Laws in Washington
Washington has a range of strong firearm laws, the exception being weak protections on open carry. A background check for all firearm sales, Extreme Risk regulations, and laws addressing police accountability are among some of Washington’s strict laws. The state has also invested heavily in community violence intervention funding.
Nebraska has a firearm fatality rate of 9.1 per 100,000 people.
Although the Cornhusker State doesn’t always make the average American traveler’s itinerary, those who visit are in for a treat. The Sandhills is a stunning region filled with prairies and sand dunes, while the Scotts Bluff National Monument is an iconic 3,000-acre area above the North Platte River.
Firearm Laws in Nebraska
Nebraska has relatively weak firearm laws, serving as another example for pro-firearm activists. It doesn’t have an Extreme Risk law or laws about secure storage to prevent children from accessing firearms stored in their houses.
Perhaps frustratingly for people on either side of the firearm law spectrum, Nebraska’s legislation has essentially remained unchanged in recent years.
Iowa has 9.2 firearm fatalities per 100,000 residents.
The Hawkeye State is home to the filming location for the baseball movie Field of Dreams. Des Moines has many museums and art galleries, while Maquoketa Caves State Park has over 100 caves for visitors to explore.
Firearm Laws in Iowa
Iowa is enjoying a relatively high ranking on WalletHub’s list, but anti-firearm activists are concerned it won’t remain that way. The reason? A change in state legislature supporting the elimination of permit-to-purchase and concealed carry permit requirements.
13: New Hampshire
New Hampshire’s firearm fatality rate is 9.3 per 100,000 people.
The Granite State is home to Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeast US. When you’re not hiking in the White Mountains or biking along the Kancamagus Highway, you can visit boutique shops and quaint restaurants in Portsmouth.
Firearm Laws in New Hampshire
New Hampshire has significantly weaker firearm laws than most other states in New England. Everytown Research even states its weak laws put it in the “national failures” category.
Since New Hampshire has an above-average rate of people taking their life at the hands of firearms compared to the rest of the nation, some people are pushing legislators to pass Extreme Risk and other protection laws.
Delaware’s firearm fatality rate is relatively low at 10.9 per 100,000 residents, but it’s the first state to cross the double-digit mark.
Tourists in Delaware are in for a treat, for the state is rich in history, beaches, and delicious food. The First State National Historical Park offers an excellent historical introduction to the area, while the DuPont family estates will leave you gawking at their architecture and gardens.
Firearm Laws in Delaware
Delaware has above-average firearm law strength, including legislation that allows the state to hold firearm manufacturers accountable for irresponsible business practices. However, The First State doesn’t have a permit to purchase system nor strong regulations for open carry.
Vermont has a firearm fatality rate of 11.0 per 100,000 residents.
The Green Mountains in Vermont offer visitors more than 1,000 miles of hiking trails. Skiing and other snow-based activities are abundant in the state. Woodstock is also a must-see town on a well-rounded Vermont itinerary.
Firearm Laws in Vermont
Vermont has most of the standard firearm laws in place. The exception is they don’t have a secure storage law. Critics point to this being an opportunity to reduce the number of firearm fatalities from people taking their life.
Wisconsin’s firearm fatality rate is 11.4 per 100,000 people.
The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Lake Superior is a popular spot for travelers. If you travel to Wisconsin with kids during the summer, visiting the Wisconsin Dells is a must, complete with water parks.
Firearm Laws in Wisconsin
Wisconsin has loose firearm laws, which have changed little in recent years. The state doesn’t have a background check requirement for all firearm purchases, nor does it have an Extreme Risk law.
Illinois has a firearm fatality rate of 11.6 per 100,000 residents.
Chicago is a must-see for foodies as long as you stick to its safer touristy areas, for it’s home to the world-famous deep-dish pizza. After taking a photo with The Bean in Millennium Park, make your way to the Illinois Beach State Park, where sand dunes, beaches, and forests await.
Firearm Laws in Illinois
At first glance, it may seem that Illinois should be higher on this list if one believes that strong firearm safety laws reduce fatality rates; Illinois has the seventh-strongest firearm safety laws in the US.
However, some people believe weaker laws in the states surrounding Illinois make it easy for firearms to arrive there. Indiana, which is just a stone’s throw away from Chicago, might be a major supplier for those illegally bringing firearms into Illinois.
Oregon’s firearm fatality rate is 11.8 per 100,000 residents.
Renting a car is an excellent option in Oregon, for it’ll allow you to take your time driving along its stunning coastline. The Columbia River Gorge is a canyon bursting with outdoor activities, and Portland is where you can snag some of the state’s best craft beer and coffee shops.
Firearm Laws in Oregon
Oregon has above-average firearm law strength, which may appear to some to go against its relatively low ranking on this list. As of 2022, everyone who wants to purchase a firearm must obtain a permit and take a training course. Colleges and universities also have the authority to prohibit firearms on their properties.
Maryland has a firearm fatality rate of 11.8 per 100,000 people.
Chesapeake Bay is an excellent place to soak in views and try some local Maryland crab. Meanwhile, Antietam National Battlefield offers a glimpse of America’s past with the Civil War. Tourists also enjoy exploring Assateague Island National Seashore, home to wild horses.
Firearm Laws in Maryland
Maryland is the antithesis of what lawmakers supporting stronger firearm regulations want to see. Despite having among the strongest firearm laws in the country, Maryland has a disproportionately high firearm fatality rate.
Some people point the finger at neighboring states, which makes it easier for crime instigators in cities like Baltimore to receive out-of-state firearms.
20 and 21: North Dakota and Pennsylvania
North Dakota and Pennsylvania tie for 20th place, sharing a firearm fatality rate of 11.9 per 100,000 people.
North Dakota is famous for its Badlands at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. In Pennsylvania, visitors can get a glimpse of how the Amish live in Lancaster County.
Firearm Laws in North Dakota
North Dakota’s relatively high ranking on WalletHub’s list is impressive to some, given that it has below-average firearm law strength. The state only has ten of the recommended 50 key firearm policies in its legislation.
Firearm Laws in Pennsylvania
Everytown Research ranks Pennsylvania as having over double the law strength as North Dakota, yet these states still tie in their firearm fatalities.
One reason could be that Pennsylvania doesn’t allow local authorities in cities and towns to create ordinances directed at their population’s situation, which some suggest would have the potential to reduce firearm violence.
Firearm law information for this article was pulled from Everytown Research.
Looking Beyond the Numbers
While there’s value in comparing states’ firearm fatality rates, these numbers don’t paint the full picture. People taking their own life with firearms is included in WalletHub’s data, which often doesn’t pose a threat to the general public.
Common Sense Plays a Role
Many parts of the US have dangerous areas. But that doesn’t mean travelers should avoid that state altogether. Instead, researching the area one wants to visit to determine what areas are best to avoid for safety reasons is recommended.
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