When Comparing American Deaths Caused by Terrorism to Those Caused by Gun Violence, a Startling Trend Emerges

Trace William Cowen
"The reporting is routine," Obama said during an emotional address on Thursday. "We've become numb to this."

When a lone gunman opened fire on the campus of Umpqua Community College in Oregon on Thursday, the country was once again reminded of the troubling frequency of such tragedies and their potential relation to the current status of gun control. When President Barack Obama addressed the nation in response to this latest shooting, he emotionally expressed the reality that "thoughts and prayers" were simply not enough to combat such a troubling pattern in America:

Somehow, this has become routine. The reporting is routine, my response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it. We've become numb to this. It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun.

I'm going to bring this up. Each time this happens I'm going to say that we can actually do something about it, but we're going to have to change our laws. This is not something I can do by myself. I've got to have a Congress, and I've got to have state legislators and governors who are willing to work with me on this.

During his heartfelt call to action, Obama also asked news organizations to compile the number of Americans killed through terrorist attacks in the last decade and compare it with the number of Americans killed by gun violence. Following Obama's request, CNN compiled numbers using 2013 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the resulting chart above so clearly indicates, gun violence is a far greater threat to the average American than any act of terrorism.

Between 2004 and 2013, 316,545 people were killed by firearms on American soil. During that same time period, just 36 people were killed in domestic acts of terrorism. Even when adding in numbers for Americans killed overseas as a result of terrorism (277 between 2004 and 2013), the total number of Americans killed by terrorism (313) is profoundly lower than those killed by firearms. For the purposes of their comparison, CNN included both suicides and homicides in their comparison.

It's worth noting that, in June of this year, the Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives rejected an amendment that would have repealed the ban on scientists at the CDC from conducting research on the relationship between gun ownership and gun violence. According to Forbes, many opponents of such research refuse to support the repeal due to the fact that "a gun is not a disease."

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