On September 21 Americans for Responsible Solutions–the gun control group founded by Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly–tweeted numbers from the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAP) claiming armed citizens in America have killed more people since 1989 than all wars since 1776 combined.
The tweet contains a meme which says, “The number of deaths from gun violence just since Reagan’s presidency is higher than the number of soldiers killed in combat in all of U.S. history.”
CAP then claims “gun-related deaths in the United States from 1989 to 2014 [were] 836,290,” and claims the “total U.S. military killed in war from 1776 to 2015 [was] 656,397.” The problem with the way CAP presents this–and Americans for Responsible Solutions rewteets it–is not that the gun deaths are exaggerated, but that the military deaths are much, much higher than CAP reports.
In fact, gun deaths are actually dwarfed by military deaths.
Think about it–the figure for gun deaths represents a rough average of slightly more than 10,000 fire-related homicides a year and 20,000 firearm-related suicides a year over a 27-year period. This gives CAP a figure of 836,290 firearm-related deaths from 1989 to 2015. To make that number appear more pronounced they quote military deaths since 1776 at 656,397 without explaining how they overlooked the fact that approximately 600,000 were killed in the Civil War alone.
In fact, if we take deaths from the Civil War–600,000, and add the deaths from World War I–approx. 115,000, World War II–418,000, Korea–35,000, and Vietnam–58,000, we are already at 1,226,000 American deaths and we haven’t even added the deaths from the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Spanish / American War, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Iraq, and others.
The bottom line–gun deaths in America do not come close approaching the number of deaths our men and women in uniform have suffered while fighting for our freedom. The figure CAP provided for all military deaths from 1776 to 2015 barely covered the deaths in the Civil War alone.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter; @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.