Saturday 3 October 2015

Gun Violence Killed 428 Times More Americans Than Terrorism Over The Last 10 Years

And that's using a narrow definition of gun violence, which includes homicides but excludes suicides, accidents and other kinds of gun deaths. It also uses a wide definition of terrorism, including attacks in which doubt exists about a terrorist link and crimes by anti-abortion assailants.

In the wake of the Umpqua Community College massacre on Thursday – the 294th mass shooting in the US in the past 274 days – Barack Obama issued a challenge to news media outlets.

"Have news organisations tally up the number of Americans who have been killed through terrorist attacks in the last decade and the number of Americans who have been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports."

So here it is:
The difference is so large that the line for terrorism deaths tracks very close to zero but if you scroll over the graphic, the numbers will pop up.

That's for the past decade. But even when we expand the dataset to include September 11, 2001, the deadliest terrorist attack in history in which more than 2900 people died, gun homicides account for 50 times more American deaths than terrorism.

Between 2005 and 2014, gun violence (homicides only) killed almost 12,000 Americans a year on average, according to figures from the University of Sydney website and the Gun Violence Archive.

Terrorism killed an average of 28 Americans a year, both on US soil and abroad, according to figures from the University of Maryland's Global Terrorism Database and the US State Department.

In all, gun homicides accounted for about 119,000 American deaths.
If we widen the definition of "violence" to include suicides, accidents and other gun deaths, that figure swells to more than 300,000 deaths.

Over the same period, 55 people (including 53 US citizens) were killed in terrorism-related attacks in the US and 225 private US citizens were killed in terrorist-related attacks overseas.

The deadliest terrorist attack on US soil in that decade was the 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire on fellow soldiers, killing 13 and wounding 31 others. Hasan, a military psychiatrist believed to have recently converted to Islam, was sentenced to death in August 2013.

Taking the tally further back, to 2000, and so covering the September 11 attacks, the ratio of gun violence deaths to terrorism deaths falls dramatically, but remains high nonetheless.

American terrorism-related deaths rise to about 3300. (The numbers get patchy because the US State Department's figures for terrorism-related deaths of US private citizens overseas only start from October 2002.)

Gun homicides rise to about 165,700, and all gun deaths swell to more than 420,000. (This is an underestimate because figures for gun suicides, accidental deaths and other gun deaths are not yet available for 2014. It's likely to be more than 430,000.)

That's at least 127 Americans killed at the end of the barrel for every one slaughtered by terrorists, even when we take September 11 into account.


The Sydney Morning Herald

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