There are some states in America where women are safer than others. And according to the Violence Policy Center (VPC), there's one reason for that: guns.

The VPC conducted a study of all male-on-female homicides committed in the U.S. in 2014 — the last year for which data is available. They examined FBI data on homicides with one female victim and one male perpetrator, and began to identify trends.

The vast majority of female victims, they found, are killed by someone they know, most of which are intimate partners, like a boyfriend or husband. The most common murder weapon, by far, is a gun.

gun violence domestic violence
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Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that the states with the highest rates of violence also have some of the worst gun-control laws, and some of the highest rates of gun ownership. In the 10 worst states, gun deaths account for anywhere from 38% to 69% of all male-one-female homicides.

"Guns in the hands of abusers can escalate domestic violence to homicide in the blink of an eye,” VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand said in a statement. “Removing guns from a domestic violence situation is crucial.”

The good news is that male-on-female homicide rates are dropping: down 31% since the organization started their study in 1996. Representatives from the VPC told Revelist there are several things states can do to reduce their numbers, from passing stricter gun control laws to creating programs to help men deal with anger issues.

Based on the VPC’s research, there are 10 states that need these suggestions most. The researchers compared the number of male-on-female homicides in each state with the size of their female population to find the 10 states with the highest murder rate per capita.

Read on to see the 10 worst states for male-on-female violence, and learn more about their gun control laws.



photo: Revelist/Bryan Green

Almost 200 women were murdered by men in Texas in 2014. Texas does not require background checks for private guns sales, or limit the number of guns that can be purchased at a time. It also does not require gun owners or dealers to obtain a state license. 



photo: Revelist/Bryan Green

Fifty-three women were killed by men in Tennessee in 2014. Almost 70% of those women were shot and killed by guns. The state gets "high marks" from Guns & Ammo for allowing residents a lifetime open-carry permit. Gun owners do not need need to register or license their weapon.



photo: Revelist/Bryan Green

Eighty-fours women were murdered by men in Georgia in 2014. Of those women, 65% died from gunshots. Before federal lawmakers passed a law prohibiting domestic abusers from buying guns, Georgia allowed those convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors to buy them. It also did not require guns to be removed from the scene of reported domestic abuse.


South Dakota

photo: Revelist/Bryan Green

Seven women were murdered by men in South Dakota in 2014. The state ranks fourth highest for gun ownership in the country. It requires no permit to purchase rifles, shotguns or handguns, and does not require gun owners to be licensed or registered.


New Mexico

photo: Revelist/Bryan Green

Eighteen women were murdered by men in New Mexico in 2014. The state does not license firearm owners or dealers, or require guns to be registered. It also does not require background checks for private gun sales. Before federal lawmakers passed a law prohibiting domestic abusers from buying guns, New Mexico did not prohibit those convicted of domestic violence from buying a gun.


South Carolina

photo: Revelist/Bryan Green

Forty-three women were murdered by men in South Carolina in 2014. The state does not restrict what kind of firearm residents can purchase or own, and gets "nearly top marks in every category" from Guns & Ammo. Gun owners — and even gun retailers — in South Carolina require no state licensing.



photo: Revelist/Bryan Green

Nineteen women were murdered by men in Oklahoma in 2014. A whopping 65% of these women were killed by guns.

Residents of the state do not need a permit to purchase rifles, shotguns, or handguns, and do not need to license or register their weapon. The Oklahoma state House of Representatives passed a bill allowing open carry without a permit this March.



photo: Revelist/Bryan Green

Twenty-eight women were murdered by men in Nevada in 2014. The very next year, the state strengthened their second-amendment protections, and reduced city government's power to overrule them. It is legal to carry a weapon — open or concealed — in a restaurant, bar or casino in the state. There is no ban on assault rifles or limit on magazine capacity.



photo: Revelist/Bryan Green

Fifty-one women were murdered by men in Louisiana in 2014, giving it a rate of 2.15 homicides for every 100,000 women. The state also does not regulate assault weapons, or require gun owners to license or register their gun. In fact, gun owners are free to bring guns into restaurants, or stash them in their cars. The state also has the 13th highest rate of gun ownership in the country.



photo: Revelist/Bryan Green

Men in Alaska killed 11 women in 2014, giving this state the highest rate of male-on-female homicides in the entire country. Coincidentally it also ranked No. 3 on Gun & Ammo's list of best states for gun owners.

Gun owners in Alaska can tote their weapons with or without a permit, and can conceal them or carry them openly. There are also no restrictions — aside from the federal ones — on what type of weapon you can buy.

Cover image from iStock/KatarzynaBialasiewicz.