Gun and blood at crime scene

The gun death rate in Wisconsin has climbed since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled there is a right to keep a handgun in the home for self-defense.

The firearm death rate in the state in 2009 was 8.08 per 100,000. The firearm death rate in Wisconsin in 2016 was 11.49 per 100,000, according to an analysis was conducted by the Violence Policy Center. The firearm death rate percent change from 2009 to 2016 was 42.2 percent.

Gun deaths in the United States jumped 17 percent since 2008.

The analysis involved a study of just-released 2016 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention.

Nationwide, the overall gun death rate — suicides, homicides, and unintentional shootings — increased from 10.21 per 100,000 in 2009, the year after the decision, to 11.96 per 100,000 in 2016. 

“Gun policy on the federal level and in too many states has gone in the wrong direction,” said VPC legislative director Kristen Rand. “These numbers show that as a nation we are facing an escalating gun crisis.”

The VPC analysis, as in prior years, shows in 2016 states with higher rates of gun ownership and weak gun violence prevention laws had the highest overall gun death rates in the nation.

In addition, states with the lowest overall gun death rates had lower rates of gun ownership and some of the strongest gun violence prevention laws in the nation.

The state with the highest per capita gun death rate in 2016 was Alaska, followed by Alabama. The states have extremely lax gun violence prevention laws, as well as a higher rate of gun ownership.

The state with the lowest gun death rate in the nation was Massachusetts, followed by New York. Both states have strong gun violence prevention laws and lower rates of gun ownership.

Nationally, the total number of people in the United States killed by gunfire increased to 38,658 in 2016 from 36,252 in 2015.

The nationwide gun death rate in 2016 was 11.96 per 100,000, an increase of 6 percent from 2015’s gun death rate of 11.28 per 100,000.

The increase in the overall firearm death rate was driven largely by firearm homicides, which increased by 10.4 percent — from a rate of 4.04 per 100,000 in 2015 to 4.46 per 100,000 in 2016. The firearms suicide rate was up 3.6 percent from 2015 to 2016.

State gun death rates are calculated by dividing the number of gun deaths by the total state population and multiplying the result by 100,000 to obtain the rate per 100,000, which is the standard and accepted method for comparing fatal levels of gun violence.

The VPC defined states with “weak” gun violence prevention laws as those that add little or nothing to federal law and have permissive laws governing the open or concealed carrying of firearms in public.

States with “strong” gun violence prevention laws were defined as those that add significant state regulation that is absent from federal law, such as restricting access to particularly hazardous and deadly types of firearms, setting minimum safety standards for firearms and/or requiring a permit to purchase a firearm and restricting the open and concealed carrying of firearms in public.

Editor's note: This story was corrected to refer to per capita rather than percent.

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