Should We Compare Civilian Gun Violence To Military Gun Violence? You’ll Learn How Violent We Really Are.

            I was at a hospital conference this morning where the speaker happened to mention that gun violence claimed more American lives since 1968 than were lost in every military engagement fought by U.S. troops since the country began. And while this is a shocking notion – the idea that we are more the victims of our own violence than the violence suffered when our country is at war with other countries – I decided to take a deeper look at those numbers, in particular the gun injury numbers from the Civil War.

            Why look at the Civil War?  For two reasons.  First, in terms of wartime deaths, it was far and away the costliest war of all.  We used to think that the final toll was somewhere over 500,000; that number was recently revised upwards to 750,000, which appears to be closer to the real mark. But this global number hides a significant issue that must be explained when it comes to comparing war deaths to civilian gun violence, namely, that two-thirds of the soldiers who died between 1861 and 1865 were victims not of wounds from warfare, but died from diseases caused by unsanitary conditions on and off the battlefield, and at least another 15% died from other causes not related to battle engagements at all.  In fact, it is estimated that only 20% of all the men who died on both sides during the Civil War actually were killed during the fighting itself.

            According to the Congressional Record Service, and I tend to think their research on all issues is about as valid as any research can be, the total number of battle deaths suffered by U.S. troops since 1775 is 575,000.  This number excludes casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan, and also doesn’t count Confederate soldiers who lost their lives between 1861 and 1865.  Throw them into the overall figure and we are still something just beyond 600,000 victims of gun violence in warfare over the entire history of the United States.  According to the CDC, the total number of gun deaths for the civilian population of the United States since 1999 is 497,632.  And everyone thinks that gun violence has claimed more lives than Americans lost in battle if we go back to 1968?  Give me a friggin’ break. How about just go back to 1995?

            I don’t think that comparing civilian gun deaths to overall military fatalities is a valid comparison at all.  For the simple reason that men and women in uniform die from all sorts of causes, natural and otherwise, which may have nothing to do with whether they were victims of hostile fire or not.  Soldiers are not infrequent victims of accidents in training, military suicides may be declining lately but they are certainly not unknown.  As far as we can tell, the great flu pandemic of 1918 probably first infected Western countries from an outbreak in a military base in France. The ratio of all military deaths to combat deaths in all American wars is in the neighborhood of 2:1. The percentage of marines killed in Desert Shield – Deseret Storm, of all the Devil Dogs serving in the Gulf, was one-one hundredth of one percent. Hell, you would have been safer walking around with the 1st Cavalry Division in Wadi Al-Batin than traipsing down Prospect Avenue in the South Bronx.

            Know what?  I’m sick of the 2nd Amendment and I’m sick of all the dopes and dupes who email me nonstop to remind me that the 2nd Amendment gives them the ‘right’ to protect themselves with a gun.  Because the truth is that the number of people who successfully use a gun to protect themselves and everyone else is about as many as the number of troops who lost their lives protecting Kuwait from Saddam Hussein.  Which by no means should be taken as even the slightest rebuke of those who participated in the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91. But carrying a weapon into battle and carrying a weapon as you walk through Walmart just isn’t the same thing.      

18 thoughts on “Should We Compare Civilian Gun Violence To Military Gun Violence? You’ll Learn How Violent We Really Are.

  1. I have researched my family genealogy going back hundreds of years and no one in my immediate family last their lives due to guns during wars. I had two great great uncles who lost their lives in the civil war because of disease. Domestic gun violence has claimed two members of my immediate family! Both of them due to family conflicts.

  2. Mike, why can’t someone like you run the GVP camp? Or Mark Carmen, or some other “gun guy” person? Seriously.
    I work a whole lot with the GVP folks and thus have had the opportunity to view them & their operations, up-close & personal. Though they’re quite smart & clearly mean well, more often than not they engineer their own failures when it comes to changing gun policy.
    To be fair, they have made positive strives of late. Still, in my opinion, they are miscast for their leadership role in the gun issue.

    • Like he’d do any better than your current anti-gun leadership.

      Gun control is woefully unpopular, and does NOT improve public safety.

      Doesn’t matter who stumps for it, it’s a born loser.

    • Nope to either! Seen polls on background checks, first they have confusing results when you look at all the questions (ie 90% favor background checks, but 50/50 split on if we need more or less gun control)

      And when background checks have actually been on the ballot they fail, or pass with a narrow margin.

      As for background checks improving safety, 90% of the denials are false positives and there are statistically ZERO prosecutions. It’s really a lousy system.

      Hey, but I don’t need to convince you, you’re on the losing side, and will continue to be there….hence why you’re disappointed by your current anti-gun top-down leadership, and want somebody as feckless as Mike to lead the charge.

  3. The general public apparently perceives background checks as outside of what can be termed “gun control”. To them gun control is something akin to a gun ban, gun registration or draconian regulations that would require law abiding citizens to jump through hoops to acquire guns. I can see why they’d be opposed to such measures.

    Regarding background checks on the ballot either not passing or minimally passing, you do have a point. But, as the public becomes more aware of how they work, this will change.

    That 90% of denials are false positives is an issue, but a small one since they’re usually resolved in short order (coupla’ days, typically). What is valuable about background checks is they tend to catch the true, prohibited persons – which is the real objective. And they can be made more effective with better data collection.

    Just about everybody involved in the gun violence issue would prefer more prosecutions for gun law violators, or any person who poses a real danger to safety. (The number of dyed-in-the-wool bleeding hearts is small.) Unfortunately, it’s tough for the public to force prosecutors to act a certain way. Some are just soft on violent offenders while others maybe be hamstrung by resource limitations – plea bargaining, etc, are therefore expedients. (The BATFE is resource poor and often can’t assist prosecutors the way they would like.)

    Most importantly, stopping illicit gun transfers at the source protects the public, with or without penalties for violators. And this is what tightly written background check laws do. (Still, it sure would be sweet to throw the perps behind bars for lengthy stays.)

    Lastly, Mike would make a great GVP czar. The problem is prying him away from his lucrative writing gig.

    • Everything you just said, in that last statement, including “and” and “the” are incorrect, weather it is because you are lying or because you are so steeped in anti-gun propaganda is of little concern to me as present company has zero chance of impacting gun policy in America, and the public is onto the nefarious plans of your masters.

  4. I’m far, far from anti-gun. And I’m neither lying or am I a puppet of anyone. Facts are, linear studies of tightly written & properly funded background check laws have shown noticeable drops in gun violence. The trouble in this country is finding BC laws with those qualities. Plus local or state laws can’t be nearly as effective as those passed on the federal level.
    Of course, other measures have been successful as well, including LE doubling down on violent offenders. Further, more promotion of safe gun storage would go a long way to making us all safer.
    We require airports to screen passengers. There should be a terrorist watch list. And we require background checks for persons who interact closely with children, such as youth camp personnel.

    A little prevention can go a long way. The majority of GVP folks are not trying to disarm the American public. By my experience, they could not care less which, or how many, guns any of us has, as long as we properly secure them & transfer them only to persons who can be trusted with them.

    • Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.

      I first learned your name when Joan Peterson spoke highly of you as a friend.

      Joan is of course a Brady Campaign director and the President of a Joyce Foundation anti-gun lobby group.

      Joan is of course an outspoken and unapologetic proponent of “assault Weapon” bans, carry bans, ammunition bans, as well UK/Australian-style gun confiscation.

      A quick Google Search of your name shows a video of you working with said Joyce group for Minnesota’s own ban of so-called “Assault Weapons”, which your testimony is factually incorrect and anti-gun boilerplate.

      Also you are a maker of classically-styled black powder firearms….firearms that have never fallen under the ATF jurisdiction….quaint that.

      And of course here I find you leveling praise on a Bloomberg Bootlicker who is just as disingenuous.

      I’ve been doing this for a LONG time, Brent, you are ALL anti-gun, and you are all liars….and we ALL know it.

      • And because he doesn’t want to respond to his own posts, Mike has just emailed me and told me to *Expletive* Myself.

        Have I said anything untrue? I will admit I am not charitable to people looking to strip the rights from innocent people and make public safety worse in this country.

        But I will only speak the truth, blunt and to the point, but the truth.

  5. It’s really too bad that this issue is so divisive. It should be merely a dry, public safety matter and nothing more.

    True, Joan P. & I are friends. We got to now each other as a result of the gun violence issue. Like many who are so involved, she came to it through personal tragedy. So naturally she and similar individuals are going to be on the zealous side.

    Weer’d Beard, I don’t doubt your sincerity. But I do question some parts of your position. And frankly, unless I’m perfect (which of course I’m not), I expect that parts of my position are questionable also.

    I’m confident, however, that certain gun laws could be passed on the federal level that will reduce gun violence and have nil impact on gun rights, ownership or use.

    • Well Brent, by nature it’s divisive. Both sides express the same end goal, to reduce violent crime…..which technically isn’t even correct, as the pro-gun side states their goal to reduce violent crime, while the anti-gun side is very solid in the “Gun Violence” message.

      And of course we have some of the most liberal gun laws nation-wide (ever if you consider blacks, women, and native Americans were not considered “human” and were denied gun rights until surprisingly recently) in recent history, and our violent crime rate is at record low levels, and there are more people with carry permits than ever in the history of this nation, and many states who have stepped away from carry permits.

      Causation is not correlation, but you do NEED correlation to SHOW causation.

      Further, you talk about being a “moderate” in this issue, and you and I did have a nice email exchange, and I look forward to future correspondence, and it comes in stark contrast with the simultaneous correspondence with Mike.

      Still you’ve stumped for gun bans, gun bans you’ve admitted were ineffectual, and you are pushing for expansion background checks despite your admission that the current system has deep problems.

      You belong to an anti-gun group that openly stands for banning and confiscation of firearms, and crippling of carry laws.

      Further you can talk all you want about being a “voice for common sense”, but there is no equivalent to the NRA.

      I am a life member of the NRA, I went to the website, I signed up and payed the bill, My membership allows me to vote in the board elections, attend the annual meeting, and take action how the group operates.

      Same with my membership to The Second Amendment Foundation, Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts, and the Second Amendment Sisters.

      There are a bunch of other groups I could also join and become active in.

      What’s on the other side. You work WITH Protect Minnesota, but you can’t become a member, or vote in new directors. Further the NRA exists because of it’s members, Protect Minnesota exists thanks to Grants from the Joyce Foundation of Chicago, who also bankrolls other anti-gun groups like the Violence Policy Center, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, etc. I would also note that while there are some contrasting differences between the various pro-gun groups (the best example are the feuds between Gun Owners of America and the NRA, but the NRA has had differences with several other pro-gun groups) the Joyce groups not only work in lockstep, but frequently cite the other groups “research” to support their agenda to appear to have 3rd party support.

      Then there’s the Brady Campaign, who again, can be donated to, or volunteered for, but the direction of the action comes from the appointed board of directors, not from the average joes who hold signs and march in protests.

      But the big elephant in the room in Michael Bloomberg’s plethora of anti-gun groups, I doubt I could even list them all. Again, no membership, no feedback from the volunteers, just give us money, and take marching orders.

      And of course NONE of these groups are pushing for effective, common sense, or moderate gun control.

      Couple all of this with the sheer massive popularity of the pro-gun side puts no chips in the anti-gun side of the table.

      That and the mistakes of the past. The NRA supported the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban in hopes that it would satisfy the anti-gun side….which quickly pushed for MORE regulation.

      So in short, the pro-gun side has had our discussion, we’ve made our compromises, and in the end it didn’t solve violent crime problems, or leave the anti-gun side happy….so now we’re done playing with you.

      You don’t need to agree with us, you don’t need to understand, you don’t need to cooperate, you don’t need to bring anything to the table.

      Your side is wrong, and your side is finished, and you will do nothing to stop it.

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