clock menu more-arrow no yes

Guns killed more Americans in the past 50 years than every US war ever

Since the Vietnam War, about 67,000 Americans have died in combat.

In that same time frame, about 1.5 million have died in the US after being shot by a gun.

Gun deaths in this country are just as common as car crashes. Guns kill more people than AIDS, war, illegal drug overdoses, and terrorism combined. And when you look back over the entire history of the country — stretching back to the Revolutionary War — you learn that guns have killed more Americans than all the wars we've fought in combined.

About 1.17 million people have died in combat since the founding of the US. About 1.49 million have died of a gunshot since Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed in 1968, which is about as far back as we could find good data.

The two World Wars and the Civil War were devastating. More than 400,000 Americans died in World War II. But in the past 47 years, guns have killed more people than every war going back to the Revolutionary War, when battles were fought with muskets and the Second Amendment didn't exist.

During the Obama administration alone, guns have killed more Americans than World War I did.

Most of these gun deaths are suicides, followed by homicides and then accidental deaths. There are about 11,000 firearm homicides each year, which is a big chunk of the approximately 33,000 annual gun deaths in the US.

Learn more about gun violence in America here.

Recode

What you need to know about Biden’s free rapid test program

Coronavirus

We’ll never have a normal flu season again

Interviews

Could a 54-year-old civil rights law be revived?

View all stories in Politics & Policy

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Meat/Less

How to eat well and do good, in 5 emails.