Gun deaths in the U.S. have increased 17 percent since the 2008 decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that there is a right to keep a handgun in the home for self-defense, according to a new analysis by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) 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, including suicides, homicides, and unintentional shootings, increased from 10.21 per 100,000 in 2009 to 11.96 per 100,000 in 2016. The center’s Kristen Rand contends that “gun policy on the federal level and in too many states has gone in the wrong direction. These numbers show that as a nation we are facing an escalating gun crisis.”
The VPC analysis says that, as in earlier years, in 2016 states with higher rates of gun ownership and weak gun violence prevention laws had the highest overall gun death rates. States with the lowest overall gun death rates had lower rates of gun ownership and some of the strongest gun violence prevention laws. The state with the highest per capita gun death rate in 2016 was Alaska, followed by Alabama. Each of these states has what the center called lax gun violence prevention laws as well as a higher rate of gun ownership. The state with the lowest gun death rate was Massachusetts, followed by New York. Both states have strong gun violence prevention laws and a lower rate of gun ownership. The total number of Americans killed by gunfire increased to 38,658 in 2016 from 36,252 in 2015. Separately, burglars stole a record number of firearms from gun stores and other licensed firearms dealers in 2017, extending an upward trend, The Trace reports. Burglars took 7,841 guns from licensed firearms dealers, about 5 percent more than in 2016, says the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.