Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Is American gun violence a greater security threat than transnational terrorism?

Following the Umpqua Community College shooting, President Obama asked media organizations to compare the number of Americans killed through terrorist attacks in the last decade with the number of Americans who have died in gun violence. That image, displayed below reveals some remarkable findings.
If you take out accidental deaths and suicide the numbers look more like this:
Source: State Department/Micah Zenko, Justice Department
What can we say about these graphs? First, it would appear the Global War on Terrorism is working. The trillions of dollars spent in the past decade seem to be keeping American fatalities near zero. Yet, there is the glaring number of around 11,000-12,000 people a year dying to gun violence. In terms of American deaths, it is far more likely you will die by gun violence than a terrorist attack. But that does not mean gun violence poses a greater security threat. Terrorism is more than violent acts. It's ideology, corrupt perspectives, and a manipulation and distortion of some deeply held religious views. It's all of this and more. Terrorism has the ability to destroy nations, cripple moderate or democratic movements, and marginalize non-violent communities. Ultimately, the threat of terrorism goes beyond the number of deaths. 

That being said, far too many people die from gun violence in America. As we prepare for the Democratic debate tonight, a large focus will be over gun control. It will be interesting to see in the coming months and in next years election, what progress can be made to lower these numbers. 

No comments: