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Comparing Gun Laws and Gun-Related Deaths Across America

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Ranking of each U.S. state's gun law, from strictest to loosest

Comparing Gun Laws and Gun-Related Deaths Across America

In June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down concealed-gun legislation in New York sent shock waves through the country.

The decision brought renowned attention to the ongoing debate around America’s gun laws—one that Americans have grossly differing views on. This lack of consensus is apparent not just in public opinion, but in legislation, with U.S. firearm regulation varying greatly from state to state.

Which states have the strictest (and loosest) gun regulations around? This graphic by Elbie Bentley sets the ground for comparing gun laws across America before the impact of the Supreme Court’s ruling can be fully understood. It uses 2021 data from Giffords Law Center and contrasts against gun-related deaths in each state.

States With The Strictest Gun Laws

Since 2010, researchers at Giffords Law Center have been ranking state gun laws across America and seeing if there’s a correlation between stricter gun laws and lower gun-related deaths.

Here’s a look at the top 10 states with the strictest gun laws and their number of gun-related deaths in 2021:

RankStateGun-Related Deaths in 2021 (per 100,000 people)% Difference from National Average
1California8.5-37%
2New Jersey5-63%
3Connecticut6-56%
4Hawaii3.4-75%
5Massachusetts3.7-73%
6New York5.3-61%
7Mayland13.5-1%
8Illinois14.1+3%
9Rhode Island5.1-62%
10Washington10.9-20%

California has the strictest gun laws in the country. Some of the state’s most notable legislation is its proactive removal of firearms from people who are facing domestic violence charges, or from people that have domestic abuse protective orders filed against them.

In addition to having the strictest gun laws, California also has a relatively low rate of gun-related deaths, at 8.5 deaths per 100,000 people—37% below the national average.

Apart from Illinois, gun-related deaths in the 10 states with the strictest gun laws are all below the national average, with Hawaii ranking the lowest for gun-related deaths at 3.4 deaths per 100,000 people, or 75% below the national average.

States With The Loosest Gun Laws

On the opposite end of the spectrum, here’s a look at the 10 states with the loosest gun laws, and their number of gun-related deaths per 100,000 people:

RankStateGun-Related Deaths in 2021 (per 100,000 people)% Difference from National Average
41Alaska23.5+73%
42(T)Arizona16.7+22%
42(T)Kentucky20.1+48%
44South Dakota13.6-0.4%
45(T)Kansas16.9+24%
45(T)Mississippi28.6+110%
47Missouri23.9+75%
48Idaho17.6+29%
49Wyoming25.9+90%
50Arkansas22.6+66%

Apart from South Dakota, all states in the bottom 10 have an above-average rate of gun-related deaths. Mississippi has the highest death rate at 28.6 per 100,000, which is 110% above the national average.

In Mississippi, you don’t need a permit to carry a concealed gun—not even on university campuses. And a few years ago, the state passed a law allowing K-12 school employees to bring guns onto school grounds.

Polarizing Opinions and an Uncertain Future

The recent Supreme Court ruling came weeks after dozens were killed in a series of mass shootings across the country—including one in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and the other in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Notably, some states have already reacted to the ruling by altering their gun laws. New York passed new legislation banning guns from notable public places, requiring applicants to prove they can use a gun, and requiring applicants to have their social media accounts reviewed. On the other hand, Maryland loosened its gun laws, directing law enforcement to be less restrictive for concealed carry applicants.

As all of the changes are still happening in rapid session, time will tell what the next annual review of U.S. gun laws shows about the country’s gun regulation landscape.

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Maps

Mapped: Unemployed Workers vs. Job Openings, by U.S. State

On average, there are 75 workers available for every 100 job openings across the country. Here’s how it varies by state.

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map showing best U.S. states for jobs

Mapped: Unemployed Workers vs. Job Openings, by U.S. State

In the United States, there were about 75 workers available for every 100 job openings as of July 2023. This means there is a significant gap between labor and jobs available, but also many opportunities present in some states for potential job seekers.

This map, using data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, showcases the number of available workers per 100 job openings in each U.S. state.

Note: Available workers are unemployed workers who are in the labor force but do not have a job, have looked for one in the previous four weeks, and are currently able and available to work. Job openings are simply all unfulfilled positions that offer available work.

Workers and Job Openings by State

The below table lists out the number of unemployed workers per 100 jobs in every state.

Higher ratios, such as 110 workers per 100 job openings, mean there is more competition for each job opening in that state. Lower ratios suggest that it is harder to find workers in a given state.

RankStateAvailable Workers per 100 Job Openings
#T1California110.0
#T1New York110.0
#3New Jersey108.0
#4Connecticut102.0
#5Washington101.0
#6Nevada98.0
#7Texas89.0
#8Pennsylvania88.0
#9Michigan85.0
#10Hawaii79.0
#11Oregon77.0
#12Arizona76.0
#13Illinois75.0
#T14Indiana74.0
#T14Rhode Island74.0
#16Delaware72.0
#17Kentucky66.0
#18Ohio65.0
#T19Alaska63.0
#T19New Mexico63.0
#21Wyoming61.0
#22Louisiana60.0
#T23Florida59.0
#T23Kansas59.0
#T25Missouri58.0
#T25West Virginia58.0
#T27Georgia57.0
#T27Iowa57.0
#T29Idaho56.0
#T29Tennessee56.0
#T31District of Columbia55.0
#T31Mississippi55.0
#T31North Carolina55.0
#T34Colorado54.0
#T34Minnesota54.0
#36South Carolina53.0
#37Wisconsin52.0
#38Virginia51.0
#T39Maine50.0
#T39Oklahoma50.0
#41Utah48.0
#42Montana46.0
#43Alabama45.0
#T44Arkansas44.0
#T44Massachusetts44.0
#T44Vermont44.0
#47New Hampshire41.0
#48Maryland40.0
#49Nebraska40.0
#50North Dakota35.0
#51South Dakota35.0
U.S. Total 75.0

While states like New Jersey and California have more workers that they know what to do with, states like North Dakota have a 0.35 ratio of people to jobs, potentially tipping the balance of power to job seekers.

Over the last three years, job openings have increased the most in the state of Georgia, where there were only 0.57 people available for every open role in July. But despite growth in open positions, unemployment has hardly changed over the last year, wavering around 3%.

The Reason for the Gap

“If every unemployed person in the country found a job, we would still have 4 million open jobs.”– U.S. Chamber of Commerce

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the main driver of the current labor shortage was the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing more than 100,000 businesses to close temporarily and resulting in millions losing their jobs.

Subsequent government support for those who lost work and other subsidies made it easier for people to stay home and out of the workforce. A Chamber of Commerce survey found that 1-in-5 people have changed their work style since the pandemic, with 17% having retired, 19% having transitioned to a homemaker role, and another 14% working only part time.

The industries with the highest unemployment rates are also those that have added the most jobs, with leisure and hospitality experiencing the highest rates (5.1%) just ahead of wholesale and retail trade (4.4%).

Overall, though the job marker has started to cool somewhat, hiring is still outpacing quit rates. The national quit rate in July 2023 was 3.8%, compared to a hiring rate of 4%. And with 9.8 million job openings in the U.S., there should be ample opportunities for job seekers.

Where does this data come from?

Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Notes/Definitions: Hire rates are calculated by dividing the number of hires by employment and multiplying that quotient by 100. Quit rates are calculated by estimating the number of quits for a reference period, then dividing quits by employment and multiplying by 100. The labor force participation rate is the share of the population that is either working or actively looking for work.  Unemployment rates are calculated as the share of the labor force that is unemployed. 

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