All they are saying is give peace a chance.

A nonpartisan and independent think tank in the nation's capital has crunched reams of data and says that Minnesota ranks among the most "peaceful" states in the union.

The "United States Peace Index," released Thursday by the Institute for Economics and Peace, ranked the states based on five "absence of violence" indicators based on statistics collected by the federal government: homicides, violent crimes, percentage of population incarcerated, number of police officers and availability of small arms.

Leading the way in peacefulness, according to the institute, is Maine. Next are: New Hampshire, Vermont, Minnesota, North Dakota, Utah, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Iowa and Washington.

At the other end of the list, Louisiana brings up the rear at 50th.

The institute says that New York, California and Texas have been getting more peaceful since 1991, while North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana saw the largest declines.

The index found that a state's ranking is strongly connected to factors such as high school graduation rates, infant mortality, access to basic services, employment, poverty and teen pregnancy. But factors such as median income and a state's partisan political leanings had no discernible impact on a state's peacefulness, the institute added.

In presenting its findings, the institute said that a more peaceful nation could save many billions of dollars and create more than 2.5 million jobs.

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Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482