Shooting deaths are growing more common in Alabama, as the state saw one of the worst firearm death rates in the nation two years ago.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Alabama ranked No. 5 in the nation for firearm death rate in 2021. Alabama was behind Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico and Wyoming. At the other extreme, Massachusetts had the lowest gun death rate in the nation.
There were more than 1,300 such deaths in Alabama two years ago, or 26.1 deaths for every 100,000 residents. That would rank between diabetes (No. 8) and influenza (No. 9) on the list of Alabama’s leading causes of death in 2020, per the CDC.
According to a recent study from the Violence Policy Center, Alabama and the rest of the states near the top of the list for firearm deaths have more relaxed gun laws – and higher gun ownership rates. Conversely, the states with the lowest gun death rates have stronger gun laws and less gun ownership.
Unlike most states, Alabama’s gun death rate is boosted by a rapidly rising homicide rate. Most states see more suicides than homicides by gun. But more than half of Alabama’s gun deaths were homicides in 2021, working out to a rate of 12.9 deaths per 100,000. That homicide rate ranked third in the nation.
Mississippi led the nation in firearm homicides and also in overall firearm deaths, while Louisiana was second in both categories.
Back in 2010, gun suicides far outpaced homicides in Alabama, as in most states. But the number of firearm homicides was higher in 2020 and 2021 than the number of firearm suicides here. While a rising homicide rate can be seen nationwide, the sharpness of the rise in Alabama is relatively unique and can be seen below.
Alabama is now, according to federal data, one of just 10 states where gun homicides outpaced suicides in 2021.
While ranked third among states for the rate of firearm homicides, Alabama’s gun suicide rate of 12.4 per 100,000 ranked No. 12 in the nation in 2021.