The Most Horrifying Gun Statistic of All

America is and always has been at war with itself.
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Ben Cohen
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America is and always has been at war with itself.

In the wake of the horrific gun massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, there have been many articles decrying the latest installment of America's never ending series of firearm related bloodbaths. There have been passionate speeches from public figures, pledges to fight for change, and the all too familiar resignation that there is little anyone can do to end it. 

And it is true -- the murder of 50 people celebrating Gay Pride by a single person with a legally purchased firearm will likely be forgotten in the coming weeks, despite it being the deadliest mass shooting in US history, and replaced with another one of equal horror and incomprehensible human suffering. 

After the country sat by and allowed 20 children no older than five die in a hailstorm of bullets from a deranged psychopath in Sandyhook Elementary School, Connecticut, then did absolutely nothing about it, there should be no doubt about America's resolve to keep guns in the hands of mentally unstable bigots and predators. 

Bear this is mind -- since President John F. Kennedy's head was blown to pieces by a gunman in 1963, more American citizens have been killed by guns than American soldiers in every single war in the country's history. Yes, you read that correctly. 

As PolitiFact reported (via the HuffPost):

  • From the Revolutionary War through December 2014, 1.2 million Americans have died in military conflicts, according to the Congressional Research Service.
  • A 2012 report by a Binghamton University historian estimated a 20 percent higher death toll from the Civil War, which would push total deaths in military conflicts to 1.4 million.
  • By contrast, domestic gun deaths from 1968 to 2014 add up to nearly 1.5 million.
  • Some 63 percent of those gun deaths were suicides, and 33 percent were homicides.
  • PolitiFact could not find data for gun deaths before 1968. Add in the missing years, and the total number of firearm fatalities since JFK’s death would surely be higher than 1.5 million.

So the number of citizen deaths from gunshot wounds isn't just more than all US wars combined, it is much, much more. 

But then this is what America is: a nation built on the murder of indigenous peoples by violent men who believed guns were not just a tool to subdue others, but a way of life itself. Guns are the basis of America's national identity, and murder a byproduct of it. The horrifying statistic on the number of people who have died from gun violence may seem shocking when compared to official deaths in US wars. But it actually isn't when you realize that America is and always has been at war with itself.