Going through some of the homicide data I teased in this post sparked an idea to show it in map form.
Here it is:
I had hoped to use a different country for every state, but there was a whole cluster of states with homicide rates close to that of Haiti and Cuba (5.8 per 100,000 and 5.4 per 100,000, respectively) and a relatively large gap between them and any other country, so I had to use them multiple times.
California and North Carolina have murder rates right around the national average. Both have excellent universities, high unemployment and diametrically opposite gun policies. Two data points means nothing, but it’s interesting to see the national average being represented by states taking two very different approaches on the issue—and not just on guns. California has a relatively progressive slate of statewide politicians who are working to expand social services, while North Carolina is fully in the grasp of a Tea Party revolution. I’d expect the California approach to make more of a dent in the murder rate, but both states are beginning at the same baseline, so we can see for ourselves as time goes on.
New England is basically Western Europe. Minnesota and Iowa have murder rates resembling the two countries gun control advocates often use as models for the United States. Iowa has achieved the low murder rate of Australia without having had to resort to Australian-style gun policy. It would be nice if gun policy took facts like this into consideration, but it is in the political interest of neither side.
There is plenty of depressing news, however. D.C. is as murderous as Russia. Most Southern states line up with countries in West Africa, Central America and the Caucasus, places with both high murder rates and a general sense of insecurity not associated with a first world country. Michigan compares unfavorably with East Timor, a country that needed UN peacekeepers until last year and a place where the State Department advises travelers not to go out at night if possible.
Fun fact: Georgia and Georgia have almost the same murder rate. 6.1 per 100,000 for the country, 5.9 per 100,000 for the state.