Homicide Rate by US State

By Jessica Dillinger October 25 2019 in World Facts

While California may have the most murders, it does not have the highest murder rate, thanks to a high population.
While California may have the most murders, it does not have the highest murder rate, thanks to a high population.

In many areas of the United States, the murder rate has been on a decline for the past few years. However, there are still some states that have a higher murder rates than others. Here is an overview of the US states with the highest murder rates. 

The Top 5 States

1. Louisiana - 11.4

Lousiana has had the highest murder rate in the country for the last three decades. The state also struggles with having one of the country's highest poverty rates, a fact that is most likely more than a little related to its violent crime rate. According to the FBI, the majority of Louisiana's crimes are committed with firearms, which suggests that less than strict gun laws may also be to blame. 

2. Missouri - 9.9

The Midwestern state of Missouri has the second high homicide rate in the United States. One of the largest cities in the state, St. Louis, has also had a long-standing place on the list of the country's most dangerous cities. Like any other place, the high crime rate in Missouri is a complicated social issue. However, it is worth noting that the state is particularly dangerous for black adult males, who represent the highest proportion of victims in Missouri. 

3. Maryland - 8.1

The city of Baltimore, in Maryland, is also considered to be one of the nation's most violent cities. Although the city has a population of just over 600,000, the city saw 309 homicides in 2018. 

4. New Mexico - 8.0 

Over the past few years, homicide rates in New Mexico have been discouragingly worse than other states. According to NM-IBIS, intentional assault is the third most common cause of death among adults in New Mexico. The homicide rate in the country is 8.0 per 100,000, which is higher than the country's average of 4.9

5. Alabama - 7.8

Another Southern state, Alabama has a homicide rate of 7.8 people per 100,000 individuals. Birmingham, one of the largest cities in Alabama, ranks highly in terms of firearm-related deaths. In 2018 alone, 107 people were killed in the city. Other explanations for the relatively high murder rate in Alabam include a high poverty rate and high unemployment rate. 

American Murder Rates vs. the Rest of the World

Violent crime statistics, especially homicide and murder data, offer key insights into law enforcement in the Unites States, and inform nation-wide debates that surround crime policies. Although the number of cases has reduced in the past two decades, when viewed in global terms, U.S. murder rates remain still quite high in comparison to other developed nations.

Violent crimes, homicide, and murder significantly influence America’s contemporary political debates, especially those concerning firearms regulation. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has been interpreted by many to give citizens the right to own and carry firearms, though this reading of the law and other gun regulations are hotly contested. When compared with most European countries, U.S. citizens have much easier access to firearms, and approximately 45 percent of Americans have a registered gun in their homes. The contribution of this ease of access to America’s relatively high murder rates is a point of contention as well.

From the information presented within the table below, one can glean a picture of the United States’s murder problem, and the disturbingly murder totals recorded in many of its constituent state. Approximately 60 percent of these murders and non-negligent manslaughter cases in the United States were carried out using a firearm, including shotguns, rifles, and handguns.

Crime In America: States With The Most Murders

RankStateHomicide Rate (per 100,000)
1 Louisiana11.4
2 Missouri9.9
3 Maryland8.1
4 New Mexico8.0
5 Alabama7.8
6 South Carolina7.7
7 Tennessee7.4
8 Arkansas7.2
9 Illinois6.9
10 Nevada6.7
11 Indiana6.5
12 Alaska6.4
13 Georgia6.1
14 Pennsylvania6.1
15 North Carolina6.0
16 Mississippi5.7
17 Kentucky5.5
18 Michigan5.5
19 Florida5.2
20 Oklahoma5.2
21 Arizona5.1
22 Delaware5.0
23 Ohio4.8
24 Texas4.6
25 Virginia4.6
26 California4.4
27 Kansas3.9
28 Colorado3.7
29 West Virginia3.7
30 Montana3.2
31 New Jersey3.2
32 Washington3.1
33 Wisconsin3.0
34 New York2.9
35 Hawaii2.5
36 North Dakota2.4
37 Connecticut2.3
38 Nebraska2.3
39 Wyoming2.3
40 Idaho2.0
41 Massachusetts2.0
42 Oregon2.0
43 Minnesota1.9
44 Utah1.9
45 Maine1.8
46 Iowa1.7
47 Vermont1.6
48 New Hampshire1.5
49 Rhode Island1.5
50 South Dakota1.4

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