Why does Alabama have more gun deaths than New York? UConn expert explains.

· 2 min. read

Only five million people live in Alabama, but the state has the fourth highest firearms  death rate in the country.

In 2021, the state had 26.4 firearm deaths per 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Compared to New York -- a state with about 20 million people and a rate of 5.4 gun deaths per 100,000 in 2021 -- the question becomes: Why does such a small state rank so high for gun violence?

UConn expert Kerri Raissian offered perspective and insight on the causes and reasons why these tragic incidents occur in specific regions and states more often across America in an interview with the Alabama Reflector

A 2019 brief published by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, a nonprofit research center for the State University of New York (SUNY) system, said universal background checks, concealed carry permits and laws prohibiting people who have committed violent misdemeanors reduce gun homicides.

“One policy that has come up against legal challenges recently has been not allowing people under the age of 21 years old to have certain guns or types of weapons,” Raissian said. “It is helpful. That age group has the highest risk of perpetuating homicides of any age group in the U.S.”

Social policies can also deter gun violence.

“It is laws, it is access to guns, it is also poverty,” Raissian said. “We have a lot of evidence that laws that you wouldn’t think have anything to do with gun violence, like Medicaid access, summer school for kids, employment opportunities for kids, are really good at reducing gun violence.”

Raissian cited a randomized controlled trial of a youth summer employment program that was established in Chicago that had reduced incidents of gun violence compared to a control group.

“It is not just about keeping them busy because these differences persist,” Raissian said. “It is also learning conflict resolution. It is also learning communication skills — all those things that come from employment and positive interactions tend to reduce violence of any form.”

But Raissian and Grant Reeher, a professor of political science at Syracuse University, both said no single law will solve the issues of gun violence.

The full article is attached above, and well worth the read.

Kerri Raissian is an associate professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Connecticut, director of the University of Connecticut's UConn’s Center for Advancing Research, Methods, and Scholarship (ARMS) in Gun Violence Prevention, and co-director of the Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy (InCHIP) Gun Violence Prevention Research Interest Group. She is available to speak to media about this important topic - simply click on her icon now to arrange an interview today.

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Kerri Raissian, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Public Policy

Public administration expert, focusing on child and family policy

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