How Many More Americans Die of Gun Violence Than War?

October 5th 2015

Kyle Jaeger

Last week, President Obama challenged the media to compare the number of deaths that result from gun violence to the number of Americans who die due to terrorism. ATTN: answered that challenge, and we found that difference is dramatic. Between 2001 and 2013, there were 3,380 American deaths from terrorist attacks; during that same timeframe, more than 406,000 Americans died from gun violence.

This is the 15th time Pres. Obama has made a statement on mass shootings during his presidency.

Posted by ATTN: on Thursday, October 1, 2015

But that's not the only comparison that should warrant our attention. In the wake of the Oregon shooting, which left nine people dead after a gunman opened fire at Umpqua Community College, debates over gun control have forced many to confront troubling statistics about the rates of gun violence in the U.S., and there is good reason for that.

By looking at the difference in American deaths from gun violence and, say, AIDS, war, and illegal drug overdoses—as Vox did—one can see just how commonplace these tragedies are. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, firearm injuries are second only to motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death in the country. 


Guns killed significantly more people than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—"almost five times as many Americans in 2013 alone," as Vox wrote. Firearms were responsible for almost three times as many deaths as AIDS (approximately 12,000 in 2012). And though the rate of fatal drug overdoses has increased over the past five years, gun deaths still outpace that cause (approximately 13,000 in 2013) by almost double.

"The federal government has spent a lot of money and time trying to lower the death toll from things like car accidents and AIDS," Vox reported. "It's waged metaphorical wars on terrorism and drugs, and literal ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, to keep Americans safe. And yet the United States won't take the most basic steps on the national level, such as requiring background checks on every gun sale in America, to reduce the death toll from guns."