Variance in Violence by US State

state similarity index rubric - culture category - violence statistics

The State Similarity Index attempts to quantify how similar states are to each other relative to other states. The index is a statistically-based way to measure this. 20% of the index is based on culture. 10% of a state’s culture score (2% of the overall State Similarity Index score) is based on the various types of statistics related to violence in the country. The following paragraphs explain which aspects were used in the calculation.

Gun Ownership

The United States has the most firearms per capita of any country in the world. However, in some states gun ownership rates are far higher than others. People in rural states tend to have more guns, while urbanized states tend to have less. In fact, the three least densely populated states, Alaska, Wyoming, and Montana are also the states where the highest percentage of people own guns. Around 65% of people have them in these states. In contrast, three of the most densely populated states, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts have relatively few gun owners.

Source: CBS News

States were categorized into the following groups by percentage of people who own guns:
5-14.5, 14.5-24, 24-33.5, 33.5-43, 43-52.5, 52.5-62

Hunting Licenses

While many guns are bought for protection, firearms are also commonly used for hunting, especially in the most rural areas of the United States. South Dakota is the state with the highest percentage of people with hunting licenses, at over 35%. The adjacent states, Wyoming and North Dakota are also over 25%. In these states hunting is a common recreational activity. In contrast, less than 1% of people in Hawaii and California have hunting licenses, the lowest rates in the country. In these states, a vast majority of people live in urban areas, so hunting is not a common activity.

Source: Realtree Buisness

States were categorized into the following groups by percentage people with hunting licenses:
0-6, 6-12, 12-18, 18-24, 24-30, 30-36

Incarceration Rate

States in the Southern region tend to have a higher percentage of their people in prison. Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country. It has implemented harsh sentencing laws and tough-on-crime policies that result in longer prison terms for offenders. In contrast, Massachusetts has the lowest incarceration rate. The state is one of the wealthiest in the country and also one of the most highly educated. Furthermore, its government has more liberal policies.

Source: US Bureau of Justice

States were categorized into the following groups by incarceration rate per 100,000 people:
250-375, 375-500, 500-625, 625-750, 750-875, 875-1000

Murder Rate

Not only does Louisiana have the highest incarceration rate, but also the highest rate of homicide as well. In general, Southern states tend to have more murders per capita. These states have higher poverty rates than the rest of the country as well. The state with the lowest homicide rate can vary from year to year. However, rural states with a low amount of racial diversity, like Maine, Idaho, and Vermont, tend to have lower rates of murder.

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation

States were categorized into the following groups by murder rate per 100,000:
1.4-3, 3-4.6, 4.6-6.2, 6.2-7.8, 7.8-9.4, 9.4-11

Leave a Reply