Hawaii had the lowest rates of both overall gun deaths and gun-related homicides in the nation during a 10-year period from 2008 to 2017, but that still meant that someone was killed by a gun every eight days across the islands, according to a new study.
America’s overall rate of 10.87 gun-related deaths per 100,000 people far outnumbered Hawaii’s rate of 3.38 gun deaths per 100,000 people, according to Eugenio Weigend, associate director of gun violence at the Washington, D.C.-based Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.
“The overall United States’ rate of gun deaths is about three times higher than Hawaii’s rate,” Weigend told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser after the study was released last week. Nationally there were 342,000 gun deaths between 2008 and 2017 while Hawaii had 471 gun deaths, or 1 every 8 days. That is not as scary compared with other states. In Texas a gun homicide occurs every nine hours. In Florida a gun homicide occurs every 10 hours.
The nationwide study was based on data from the FBI, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Across America, 342,439 people were shot to death from 2008 to 2017, meaning someone was killed with a gun every 15 minutes, according to the study.
“Alaska, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi rank in the top four for highest rates of gun-related deaths, with rates that are higher than 18 gun deaths per every 100,000 people,” according to the study. “In contrast, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Hawaii are at the other end of the spectrum, with rates lower than five gun deaths per every 100,000 people.”
The study found that Alaska had the highest rate of gun-related deaths during the 10-year period — or just over 20 per 100,000 people.
The bulk of Alaska’s gun-related deaths were the result of suicides.
“You’re talking 66-67% of all gun deaths in Alaska were the result of suicide,” Weigend said.
Hawaii also had the nation’s lowest rate of gun-related homicides: 81 in the 10-year-period, for a rate of 0.58 per 100,000 people.
By comparison, Louisiana led the nation in gun-related homicides with a rate of 9.91 per 100,000 people — meaning 4,553 people were killed with a gun in the 10-year period, Weigend said.
Mississippi followed Louisiana in gun-related homicides with a rate of 8.06 per 100,000 people — meaning 2,399 people were slain with guns.
Hawaii’s low numbers of gun-related deaths are the result of some of the strictest gun laws in America and Hawaii’s isolation, Weigend said.
“Hawaii is isolated from the rest of the states, so gun trafficking doesn’t affect it as much like Illinois and New York that have strong gun laws,” Weigend said. “But they’re next to states with weak laws, so gun trafficking happens frequently. Hawaii is protected.”
Hawaii ranked only fourth best in the country when it came to gun suicides, with a rate of 2.57 suicides per 100,000 population.
Across the country, 2 out of every 3 suicides are by a gun, Weigend said.
Gun-related suicides are “a huge problem, but you’re still among the five states that are considered to be the safest states when it comes to gun suicides,” Weigend said.
Wyoming — with 886 gun-related suicides over the 10-year period — led the country with a 15.46 rate per 100,000 people. Wyoming slightly edged out Montana for the worst per capita rate.
Montana saw 1,559 gun-related suicides, giving it a rate of 15.44 gun-related suicides per 100,000 people.
“You tend to see gun suicides increase in more rural areas,” Weigend said, “and also in states with high levels of gun ownership.”
The study cited data from the Pew Research Center that found 44% of Americans say they know someone who had been shot, and another 23% reported that a gun has been used to threaten or intimidate them or a family member.
The study also cited a 2018 USA Today/Ipsos poll that found 53% of teenagers ages 13 to 17 identified gun violence as a “major worry” that outranked all other concerns listed in the poll.