ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Alaska can be a deadly place to be a woman. A new study ranks Alaska first in the nation in the rate of women murdered by men.
The Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. that aims to reduce gun deaths, says the homicide rate among females murdered by males in Alaska was 3.15 per 100,000 in 2014.
“That’s nearly three times the national average. That’s pretty stunning from a statistical standpoint,” said Kristen Rand, the center’s legislative director.
It’s not the first time Alaska has topped the list either, she said.
“It’s not an anomaly,” Rand said.
The state with the second-highest rate of women killed by men was Louisiana, with 2.15 per 100,000. Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, New Mexico, South Dakota, Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas round out the top ten.
“Women are almost always killed by someone they know,” said Rand.
Guns tend to be the weapon of choice for men who kill women. The study found that for murders in which the weapon could be identified, 54 percent of female homicide victims nationwide were shot and killed by a firearm.
Not so in Alaska -- at least not in 2014, the year the study examined using data from the FBI's Supplementary Homicide Report.
Of the 11 female Alaska homicide victims that year, 45 percent were killed by guns, or five out of 11.
Two of the 11 Alaska victims were killed with knives or other cutting tools. One woman was killed by a blunt object, one was killed by bodily force, one was strangled, and one was murdered in a fire or with an incendiary device, according to the report and supplementary information provided by Marty Langley, senior policy analyst with the group.
Ninety-one percent of the Alaska homicide victims knew their assailant, according to the report. Of the women who knew their murderer, 40 percent were wives, girlfriends, ex-wives or common-law wives.
Nine of the victims were white. Two were Alaska Native.
Most of the homicides resulted from an argument.
Rand said many people think that women are often killed by strangers in dark alleys. That’s a myth, she said.
“What society really needs to be concerned about is an acceptance of situations where men can use violence against women in a friend or acquaintance context or an intimate partner context and that escalates into homicide,” she said. “This is a problem that everyone needs to pay attention to.”
The study urges state legislators to adopt laws that enhance enforcement of federal legislation and ensure that guns are surrendered by or removed from the presence of abusers.
Gregory Stephens, a field representative for the National Rifle Association in Alaska, directed KTUU to the NRA's national office for comment on the study. A woman who answered the media line at the organization's Virginia headquarters late Tuesday afternoon said the person who handles Alaska media inquiries had left for the day.
KTUU reporter Samantha Angaiak contributed to this story.
Contact Paula Dobbyn at email@example.com, 907-762-9242 or @pauladobbyn