Massachusetts had the lowest gun death rate of any state in the country in 2015, the Violence Policy Center reported Tuesday, citing federal gun death data.
Massachusetts' position as the state with the fewest gun deaths per 100,000 residents was confirmed in a Violence Policy Center analysis showing that states "with weak gun violence prevention laws and higher rates of gun ownership" had the highest overall gun death rates in the nation in 2015.
The five states with the highest per capita gun death rates in 2015 were Alaska, Louisiana, Montana, Alabama and Mississippi. After Massachusetts, the states with the lowest gun death rates were Hawaii, New York, Rhode Island and Connecticut, according to the center’s analysis.
The Massachusetts death rate was 3.13 per 100,000 residents, the center said, and its gun ownership rate was 14.3 percent. (The death rate includes homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings.)
Gun ownership rates in the states with the highest per capita gun death rates ranged from a low of 49 percent in Louisiana to a high of 67.5 percent in Montana.
"The evidence could not be more compelling that states with fewer guns and strong gun laws have far lower rates of gun death," VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand said in a statement.
For its analysis, the VPC defined "strong gun violence prevention laws" 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 (for example, assault weapons), 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."
In 2014, Massachusetts overhauled its gun laws, bringing the state into compliance with a federal criminal background check system, requiring background checks for private gun sales, and giving police chiefs greater discretion in issuing rifle and shotgun licenses.
With additional reporting by the WBUR Newsroom