Gun deaths in Hawaii lowest in nation


POSTED: Thursday, May 07, 2009

Hawaii continues to have the lowest rate of gun-related deaths in the nation, which state officials and a national organization attribute to Hawaii's strict gun laws and low gun ownership.

Hawaii had 2.58 gun deaths per 100,000 residents, while Louisiana, the highest, had a rate of 19.58, according to a Violence Policy Center report. The national average was 10.32, according to 2006 data the center used from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Only 9.7 percent of households in Hawaii owned a gun, compared with 45.6 in Louisiana.

“;More guns means more gun death and injury. Fewer guns means less death and injury. It's a simple equation,”; said Kristen Rand, the center's legislative director.

In Hawaii, 30 percent of homicides from 2001 to 2006—50 out of 165—were committed with firearms, according to the state. Physical force, the second highest method of killing, contributed to 27 percent of homicides.

Dr. Max Cooper, director of the Hawaii Rifle Association, says Hawaii's low gun death rate is related to Hawaii's ethnic groups and physical isolation from other states rather than the laws.

“;Hawaii generally has a law-abiding population,”; he said, adding that Hawaii doesn't have a large gang or drug-related problems.

Indeed, said Dan Galanis, a state epidemiologist, Hawaii doesn't have the peak in gun-related deaths among 15- to 39-year-olds that other states with gang-related problems may see.

Cooper said, “;Some of them (the laws) are wrong because they discourage private ownership of firearms.”;

He said the law requires him to undergo a two-week waiting period and make three visits to the county police department to get a firearm permit.

“;That's harassment,”; he said.

“;I don't think it's harassment,”; said Eric Tash, program manager of the Department of Health's Injury Prevention and Control Program. “;I think that Hawaii's being very cautious and conscientious in checking to make sure that the people who buy guns are qualified to own them. Having a gun is a very serious responsibility.”;

The more guns are accessible in the community, the greater possibility there is they can be misused, said Tash.

He also supports re-registration of guns.

Cooper said more guns could make Hawaii safer. “;Criminals are more afraid of being shot than they are of the justice system.”;







































 Household gun ownershipDeath rate per 100,000 population
Top 5 states
Louisiana45.6 percent19.58
Alabama57.2 percent16.99
Alaska60.6 percent16.38
Mississippi54.3 percent16.38
Nevada31.5 percent16.25



Bottom 5 states
New York18.1 percent5.20
Connecticut16.2 percent4.95
Rhode Island13.3 percent4.43
Massachusetts12.8 percent3.28
Hawaii9.7 percent2.58


Source: Violence Policy Center