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More US Dead From Domestic Guns Since 1968 Than All Wars

Submitted by on February 8, 2013 – 10:21 pmNo Comment
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One of the most outrageous claims of the gun debates has actually been verified as “True” by a prominent fact checking website. Politifact has certified that “more Americans have died by gunfire” since 1968 than in every war the country has fought combined.

The claim was notably made by PBS commentator Mark Shields last December. The fact check was originally published in January, but seems to have gotten new life after being posted to the site Upworthy. Of course, the gun control debate has barely stopped raging since the Newtown shootings on December 14.

Politifact highlights that the main difficult is tabulating reliable numbers for both total war casualties (going back to the Revolution) and total gun casualties (with spotty statistics).

Calculating broadly for war casualties brings the number to about 1, 171, 500. Presumably, when the numbers include “war-related deaths, not just those that occurred in combat,” the include deaths due to disease, which was a major cause of fatality in pre-WWII conflicts.

It is unclear if suicides attributable to PTSD among active duty troops and veterans were counted in either category. US army suicides outpaced combat casualties in 2012; however, the figures are still too low to have made a difference.

Even calculating broadly, war casualties are not near the level of gun deaths: over 1,300,000. These in fact include many suicides; suicide is the leading type of gun death in the country, comprising over 60%, and shootings comprise over half of suicides.

But those who say a suicidal person will do the deed whether or not they have a gun are not necessarily correct. A study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that guns in the home are a risk factor for suicide, especially among teens- and that suicide by firearms is up to 85% more effective than other frequently-used methods.

[Image via Upworthy]

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