In 2012, on the PBS News Hour, Mark Shields stated that since 1968, "more Americans have died from gunfire than died in … all the wars of this country's history."
Politifact.com did a study to determine the validity of Shields's claim. Here's what they found via the Congressional Research Service:
Politifact ruled that Shield's statement is true:
War of 1812
Civil War (Union and Confederate, estimated)
World War I
World War II
Persian Gulf War
Another 362 deaths resulted from other conflicts since 1980, such as interventions in Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Somalia and Haiti, but the number is not large enough to make a difference.
The number of deaths from gunfire is a bit more complicated to total. Two Internet-accessible data sets from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allow us to pin down the number of deaths from 1981 to 1998 and from 1999 to 2010. We’ve added FBI figures for 2011, and we offer a number for 1968 to 1980 using a conservative estimate of data we found in a graph in this 1994 paper published by the CDC.
Here is a summary. The figures below refer to total deaths caused by firearms:
1968 to 1980 377,000
1981 to 1998 620,525
1999 to 2010 364,483
1.4 million firearm deaths trump 1.2 million deaths from war. They also note these figures refer to "all gun-fire related deaths -- not just homicides, but also suicides and accidental deaths."
The NRA and pro-gun crazies have been spouting statistics for their cause, in fear, since the Sandy Hook massacre. Liberal/Pro-GunSense groups have given their own figures. Who wins? Nobody. The study is devastating, and proves America has sorely lost, is losing, and will continue to lose, until laws are changed.
This sobering and poignant information needs to become known to every U.S. citizen. And we need to demand action. Thank you, Mark Shields. Thank you, Politifact for the research.