Gun Deaths In Last 50 Years Top All War Deaths In U.S. History

| by Kathryn Schroeder
U.S. Soldiers in Vietnam.U.S. Soldiers in Vietnam.

The claim that more Americans have been killed by gunfire in the U.S. than died in all its wars since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 appears to be true.

The Virginia Center for Public Safety, a gun control advocacy group, handed out fliers at a Jan. 18 rally that said: "Since John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, more Americans have died by gunfire within our own country than American servicemen and women who were killed in all our wars.”

Politifact decided to check available data to see if the group’s statement was factual, and the fact-checking organization believes it to be true.

According to a list complied in January 2015 by the Congressional Research Service, which included casualties from the Revolutionary War through Operation Inherent Resolve, which is targeting the ISIS militant group, 1.4 million Americans have died in the conflicts.

Between 1968 and 2014, 1.5 million fatalities by gunfire have been recorded in the U.S., according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC data did not include the years 1963-1967, but Politifact estimates that if those years were included, the actual number of deaths by gunfire would be close to 1.6 million for the more than 50-year period.

The figures include all deaths by gunfire, not just murders.

Based on Politifact’s findings, it appears that the Virginia Center for Public Safety is correct. More Americans have died from firearms in their own country than in every U.S.-involved war since 1963.

This finding is similarly shocking to that which was uncovered late last year.

In December 2015, the CDC found that for the first time in more than 60 years, the death rate for Americans killed by firearms is as high as the death rate linked to motor vehicle accidents, Voice of America reported.

For every 1 million people, guns and car accidents each cause 103 deaths per year in the U.S.

The shift in the statistics is believed to be from a reduction in motor vehicle deaths due to better safety standards in vehicles, an increase in enforcement on driving under the influence of alcohol, and better road conditions.

On the other side, firearm deaths have increased, mostly due to more suicides occurring, but 21 states in 2014 had more gun deaths than auto fatalities.

Sources: Politifact, Voice of America / Photo credit: Tommy Japan/Flickr

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