Thursday, January 28, 2016

U.S. Shootings Since 1963 Have Killed More Americans Than All Our Wars Combined

The Virginia Center for Public Safety, a gun control advocacy group, has asserted that since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, more Americans have been killed by gunfire in this country than have died in all U.S. wars.

Gun nuts of course found their claim to be outrageous so the fact checking organization PolitiFact decided to run the numbers with the latest data available. Here’s how the numbers checked out…

WARS

The most comprehensive list found on U.S. war dead was compiled in January 2015 by the Congressional Research Service (Library of Congress). Their list included casualties from the Revolutionary War through our present military actions Operation Inherent Resolve, which is targeting the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria.

The number of U.S. dead in all those conflicts came to almost 1.2 million, according to the research service.

The site added this qualifier though: Research service says that during the Civil War, the nation’s deadliest conflict, Union and Confederate losses combined were 525,000 to 530,000. But a 2012 study by a Binghamton University historian estimated the combined toll was much higher -- about 750,000.

So for the sake of argument the site used the higher Civil War death tally which brought the total U.S. deaths in military conflicts to an inflated 1.4 million.

US WARS = 1.4 MILLION

GUNS

The firearm fatality stats were compiled from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which provides a series of hard figures and estimates of yearly gunfire deaths in the U.S. from 1968 to 2014. They added up to about 1.5 million fatalities.

The Virginia Center for Public Safety’s claim on gun deaths goes back to 1963 but the site couldn’t find figures going back to that far since the oldest year for data available was 1968.

That being the case the site concluded that the figure of 1.5 million deaths since 1968 was surely an underestimate of the Virginia Center for Public Safety’s gun deaths claim going back to 1963. 

The site then crunched the numbers and concluded that the actual number probably is closer to 1.6 million.

*A key thing to know about these figures is that they include not just murders but suicides, homicides, accidents, legal interventions and undetermined causes. Some might argue that this lessens the impact of the claim but keep in mind the war death toll also used causes of death other than guns as well so it more than equals out.

GUNS = 1.6 Million

THE FINAL TALLY

So in conclusion at least two hundred thousand more Americans have died from gunfire within their own country in the last half-century than died in all the wars the U.S. has ever fought.


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