Finance company WalletHub released this week a new report that purports to have ranked all 50 U.S. states based on their “dependence” on the gun industry.
Topping the list are Idaho, Alaska, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Arkansas. The states least dependent on the firearms industry, according to the report, are Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and New Jersey.
The report’s title is somewhat misleading. The rankings use 17 metrics related to two categories in addition to the firearms industry: gun prevalence and gun politics. Gun prevalence is weighted equally with the firearms industry to determine a state’s overall score, and gun politics is weighted slightly less.
“Firearms industry” metrics include factors like firearms-industry jobs per 10,000 residents, firearms and ammunition dealers & importers per capita, and firearms and ammunition manufacturers per capita. Under these criteria alone, the top states would be New Hampshire, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, and Arkansas, and the bottom states would be New York, Illinois, California, New Jersey and Hawaii.
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“Gun Prevalence” considers gun ownership rates and gun sales per 1,000 residents (among other factors), and “Gun Politics” takes into account congressional contributions by anti-gun and pro-gun groups.
The report used data from government organizations like the U.S. Census Bureau and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and advocacy groups like the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
WalletHub’s rankings do not correspond perfectly to the gun-related death rate in each state, but there is some overlap. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, three of the top ten states with the highest gun-related death rates are also in WalletHub’s top ten list. On the other end of the spectrum, seven of the ten states with the lowest gun-related death rates are at the bottom of the WalletHub report.
Major exceptions include Idaho, which ranks 15th on the gun-related deaths list, and South Dakota, which ranks 32nd.
“Gun-related deaths” include suicides, of course, and suicide rates also correspond to a host of factors besides a state’s dependence on the gun industry. A more telling metric might be a state’s homicide rates. According to CDC statistics, only three of the top ten states with the highest homicide mortality rates are also on the top-ten list of states dependent on the gun industry (Alaska, Arkansas, and Tennessee).
On the other end of the spectrum, a low homicide rate does not correspond to a low dependence on the firearms industry. Of the ten states with the lowest homicide rates, only three states also appear at the bottom of WalletHub’s list (Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Hawaii).
What’s more, two of the states most dependent on the firearms industry (Wyoming #4 and North Dakota #6) have some of the lowest homicide rates in the country. On the other end of the spectrum, Maryland has the country’s sixth highest homicide rate but is 42nd in terms of dependence on the firearms industry.
In other words, while anti-gun pundits constantly try to draw connections between the firearms industry and dead Americans, the data suggests otherwise.