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Mississippi Has Nation's Fourth Highest Rate Of Gun Death

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Mississippi has the nation's fourth-highest rate of death by firearm. That's according to new research on both homicides and suicides in the state.

At 17 deaths per 100-thousand residents, Mississippi has a gun death rate that is more than 50-percent above the national average.

The Violence Policy Center, a DC-based gun control advocacy organization, looked at how many people died by firearm in each state and compared it with gun regulations and rates of gun ownership.

Cathie Whittenburg with States United to prevent Gun Violence says states with high rates of gun ownership all had higher rates of gun death.

"When you look at overall number of homicides and the overall number of suicides, overwhelmingly these deaths are caused by guns. It's up around 80-plus percent of all Homicides and of all suicides in Mississippi are due to guns," Whittenburg said.

Whittenburg says the research shows that Mississippi should tighten its regulations on firearms with steps such as universal background checks.

However, state lawmakers appear to be headed in the opposite direction with more than two dozen bills loosening gun regulations.

Speaking on the floor of the House, judiciary B chairman Andy Gipson of Braxton says the state needs to form a task force to examine to lowering restrictions on who can carry a weapon and where.

"Guns don't kill people, people do. So for as many situations where a victim has been hurt there are as many or more situations where someone with a firearm has been able to keep a crime from happening," Gipson said.

Mississippi's gun death rate is eight times higher than the state with the lowest rate, Hawaii.