Listen to some southern politicians talk about U.S. violence and you’d think New York City was as dangerous as Ukraine. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proclaimed crime in New York City “out of control” and blamed it on George Soros. Former president Donald Trump called his native city a place "where the middle class used to flock to live the American dream are now war zones, literal war zones.” In reality, the Big Apple's region is far and away the safest part of the U.S. mainland when it comes to gun violence, while the regions Florida and Texas belong to have per capita firearm death rates (homicides and suicides) three to four times higher than New York’s, reports Politico.
On a regional basis it’s the southern swath of the U.S., both in cities and rural areas alike, where the rate of deadly gun violence is most acute -- regions where Republicans have dominated state governments for decades.
Someone living in the most rural counties of South Carolina is more than three times as likely to be killed by gunshots than someone living in the equally rural counties of New York’s Adirondacks or the impoverished rural counties facing Mexico across the lower reaches of the Rio Grande.
The reasons for these disparities end extend back to events that predate the advent of shotguns, revolvers, ammunition cartridges, breach-loaded rifles and the American republic itself.
The geography of gun violence is the result of differences at once regional, cultural and historical.
The reason the U.S. has strong regional differences, says Politico, "is because our swath of the North American continent was settled by rival colonial projects that had very little in common, often despised one another and spread without regard for today’s state boundaries."
Author Colin Woodard contends that, "Building coalitions for gun reform at both the state and federal level would benefit from regionally tailored messaging that acknowledged traditions and attitudes around guns and the appropriate use of deadly violence are much deeper than mere party allegiance."