U.S. Shootings Since 1963 Have Killed More Americans Than All Wars Ever

Well, this is depressing.

Here's the shocking claim: Since President John F. Kennedy was shot down in late 1963, more Americans have been killed by gunfire in this country than died in all U.S. wars.

The Virginia Center for Public Safety, a gun control advocacy group, repeated that assertion, which has been made before, in fliers handed out at a Jan. 18 rally in Richmond. And PolitiFact decided to run the numbers with the latest data.

Short version: It's true.

Here's what PolitiFact discovered:

  • 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 yes, more Americans have died from gunfire within their own country in the last half-century or so than died in all the wars the U.S. has ever fought.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama announced new anti-violence actions that would, among other things, close the gun show loophole that allows certain purchasers to bypass background checks. His announcement sent gun manufacturers' stocks soaring.

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