ViolenceComparing U.S. deaths from terrorism vs. gun violence

Published 5 October 2016

The number of Americans killed in acts of terrorism – both on U.S. soil and abroad — between 2001 and 2014 is 3,412 (including the victims of the 9/11 attacks). During the same period, 440,095 people died by firearms on U.S. soil (homicides, accidents, and suicides). In 2014, for every one American killed by an act of terrorism in the United States or abroad, 1,049 Americans died in the United States because of guns.

On twenty-five occasions during his nearly eight years in office, President Barack Obama has formally talked to the American people on the subject of gun violence. This is one formal address on the subject every 112 days.

Fox43 reports that that in the last year alone, he has formally addressed the nation on the subject of gun violence every thirty-six days.

After a gunman opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Oregon in October 2015, killing nine people and injuring seven, Obama said the shootings, unfortunately, were becoming routine. In his address after the shooting, he urged American news organizations to tally two sets of figures, and compare them to each other: the number of Americans killed in terrorist attacks in the last decade, and the number of Americans who have died in gun violence.

“We spend over 1 trillion dollars and pass countless laws and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so,” Obama said. “And yet we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?”

“I would ask news organizations — because I won’t put these facts forward — have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who have been killed in terrorist attacks in last decade and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence. And post those side by side on your news reports. This won’t be information coming from me. It will be coming from you.”

“When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer,” the president noted. “When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them, to reduce auto fatalities. We have seat-belt laws because we know it saves lives.

“The notion that gun violence is somehow different — that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and do everything they do under such regulations — it doesn’t make sense.”

Last year CNN tallied these numbers – and has updated the numbers with another year of data now available.

CNN found that for every one American killed by an act of terror in the United States or abroad in 2014, more than 1,049 American died or were killed because of guns.

CNN says that it used numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and found that from 2001 to 2014, 440,095 people died by firearms on U.S. soil (the most recent data on death by firearms which CDC has are for 2014). The “death by firearms” data cover homicides, accidents, and suicides.

The U.S. State Department numbers show that 369 U.S. citizens were killed overseas as a result of incidents of terrorism from 2001 to 2014.

CNN has also compiled all terrorism incidents inside the United States and found that between 2001 and 2014, 3,043 people killed in domestic acts of terrorism – including the 9/11 attacks (see below the list of terrorist acts on U.S. soil).

This brings the total of U.S. citizens killed in acts of terrorism inside the United States and abroad from 2001 to 2014 to 3,412.

CNN has compiled this list of domestic terrorism incidents on U.S. soil:

September 11 attacks (NY, DC, PA) 9/11/01

2001 Anthrax attacks (DC, NY, CT, FL) Oct., Nov. 2001

El Al counter shooting (California) 7/4/02

Beltway sniper attacks (DC, Mid-Atlantic) Oct. 2002

Knoxville church shooting (Tennessee) 7/27/08

Pittsburgh police officers killed (Pennsylvania) 4/4/09

Tiller abortion clinic (Kansas) 5/31/09

Holocaust Museum shooting (DC) 6/10/09

Fort Hood shooting (Texas) 11/5/09

Plane crash into Austin IRS building (Texas) 2/18/10

Fort Stewart Army base killing (Georgia) 12/10/11

Sikh Temple Shooting (Wisconsin) 8/7/12

St. John’s Parish police ambush (Louisiana) 8/16/12

Boston Marathon Bombing (Massachusetts) 4/15/13

LAX Shooting (California) 11/05/13

2014 additions:

Overland Park Jewish community center (Kansas) 4/13/14

Isla Vista shooting (California) 5/23/14

Las Vegas shooting (Nevada) 6/8/14

Killing of state trooper in Blooming Grove (Pennsylvania) 9/12/14