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Gun Violence Rates In Rural Areas Match or Outpace Cities

As gun violence continues to fuel violent crime, some conservative politicians are not only refusing to support violence prevention measures but are also rolling back gun laws. Many of these same officials express the narrative that gun violence is only a problem in urban, Democrat-led cities, and media outlets focus on gun violence in cities like Chicago.

The truth is that rural communities—particularly in red states—have increasingly faced levels of gun violence that match or outpace urban areas, says the Center for American Progress.

Rural communities are experiencing high rates of gun violence.

From 2016 to 2020, the two U.S. counties to experience the most gun homicides per capita were rural, Phillips County, Ar., with 55.45 age-adjusted homicides per 100,000 people, and Lowndes County, Al., with 48.36 age-adjusted homicides per 100,000.

During the same years, 13 of the 20 U.S. counties with the most gun homicides per capita were rural. Some 80 percent of these 20 counties are in states that received an “F” grade for their weak gun laws, say the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s 2021 annual state scorecard rankings.

Overall, the total gun death rate for rural communities—when age-adjusted per 100,000 people—was 40 percent higher than it was for large metropolitan areas in 2020.

The center contends that "despite negative media attention, many large cities are proportionately safer from gun violence than their rural counterparts.

It notes that Chicago's Cook County ranks 79th for firearm homicide rates, and Philadelphia County ranks 38th.

The five boroughs that comprise New York City rank between 360th and 521st for firearm homicide rates:

Los Angeles County ranks 316th.

Southern and Midwestern states with loose gun laws and large rural populations have contributed to a rise in gun homicides, the center says. It reports that states including Arizona, Arkansas, and Missouri have contributed to the more than 100-fold relative increase in gun homicide rates from 2014 to 2019.

Gun ownership rates among rural citizens are higher than they are in urban areas, which can lead to increased gun violence. Some 46 percent of adults who live in rural areas are gun owners, compared with only 19 percent of adults in urban areas and 28 percent of suburbanites.


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