The state most plagued by gun violence is one of the most beautiful places on earth

Drake Baer

Oh, Alaska.

Famed for its untamed wilderness, gigantic size, and Sarah Palin, the 49th state has another, less illustrious distinction to add its resume: the place where you're most likely to be killed by gun violence

As we recently detailed, the Kaiser Family Foundation assembled a table of statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on 2013 mortality rates from firearms in each state.

According to Kaiser's analysis, Alaska has the highest rate of gun-related deaths of any state.

It's 19.8 deaths per 100,000 residents.

For the sake of comparison, the national average is 10.6 gun deaths per 100,000 people, and the lowest rate is in Hawaii, with 2.6 deaths per 100,000 people.

Which prompts a basic question: why is the rate so high?

There are a few reasons:

• Alaska has a ton of guns. A full 60% of homes in Alaska have a gun. It's topped by Wyoming, where 62.8% of homes have guns. (And unsurprisingly, Wyoming had 17.51 gun deaths per 100,000 residents.) 

• Alaska is sparsely populated. The total area is 586,000 square miles, or over twice the size of the next-largest state, Texas. It has a population of 736,732, meaning that there's 1.2 persons per square mile. 

• Alaska has really liberal gun laws. It's one of four states that have "concealed carry" without a permit, and the Violence Policy Center says that Alaska has "extremely lax gun violence prevention laws."

• Alaska has a lot of suicide. Over 80% of firearm deaths in Alaska were self-inflicted, and Alaska has the highest suicide rate in the US — nearly double the average

So between the availability of guns, liberal laws, and unchecked mental health issues, Alaska is especially vulnerable to firearm-related deaths. 

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