Over Half of All Homicides in West Virginia Are Committed With a Gun


Homicides surged in the U.S. by nearly 30% in 2020, the largest annual increase since record keeping began. The same year, U.S. firearm sales hit an all-time high of nearly 23 million, increasing 24% from 2019, according to consulting firm Small Arms Analytics.

The increase in gun sales at the same time that murders spiked may be more than mere coincidence. Based on local police department data compiled by the FBI, an estimated 77% of murders were committed with a firearm in 2020. Firearm homicide numbers vary considerably by state, however.

In West Virginia, a total of 102 murders committed in 2020 had a weapon associated it. Of those murders with a known weapon type, 67.6% involved a firearm, the 31st most of the 45 states with available data.

Nationwide, handguns are by far the most commonly used firearm type in murder cases, and in West Virginia, handguns were used in 38 of the 69 murder cases involving firearms.

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, the overall murder rate in West Virginia stands at 6.6 for every 100,000 people, compared to the national homicide rate of 6.5 per 100,000.

Rank State Share of homicides involving a gun, 2020 (%) Total murders involving a gun, 2020 Total murders involving a handgun, 2020
1 Delaware 89.2 66 32
2 Illinois 86.7 896 762
3 Wyoming 85.7 12 10
4 Tennessee 85.4 566 234
5 Louisiana 85.1 593 242
6 South Carolina 84.5 453 240
7 Kentucky 84.5 261 155
8 Missouri 82.9 470 265
9 Maryland 81.6 400 354
10 Virginia 80.7 423 212
11 Michigan 79.2 595 237
12 Indiana 78.5 366 246
13 North Carolina 78.2 580 325
14 Texas 77.4 1491 751
15 Ohio 76.8 600 269
16 Arkansas 76.3 235 104
17 Iowa 75.7 84 33
18 Minnesota 75.1 142 79
19 Rhode Island 75.0 24 4
20 Wisconsin 74.9 227 85
21 Massachusetts 73.1 117 64
22 California 72.9 1606 1032
23 Utah 72.8 67 43
24 Kansas 70.8 63 31
25 Oregon 70.5 86 43
26 Connecticut 70.0 98 23
27 New Jersey 69.6 229 156
28 Colorado 68.9 202 141
29 Arizona 68.7 292 219
30 Maine 68.2 15 10
31 West Virginia 67.6 69 38
32 Oklahoma 67.5 197 140
33 Nebraska 66.1 41 31
34 New York 64.7 517 415
35 Vermont 64.3 9 6
36 Idaho 64.1 25 18
37 New Mexico 63.3 88 29
38 Nevada 62.2 107 77
39 Washington 59.4 177 102
40 New Hampshire 50.0 6 3
41 Montana 49.1 28 16
42 Alaska 45.8 22 16
43 North Dakota 45.2 14 5
44 Hawaii 41.0 16 5
45 South Dakota 40.8 20 13

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