MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md., October 7, 2017 – While not the most warlike country in the world, the U.S. has been involved in a significant number of armed conflicts. Since we became a country in the late 18th century, we have been a party to 12 different wars, including the War for Independence from England which took place near the end of the 18th century.
Prior to our independence, the former English colonies in America participated to some extent in at least two international conflicts as well.
In 1741, American combatants joined the forces of Admiral Vernon to siege Cartagena de Indias in the southern Caribbean. Located today in modern Columbia, Cartagena was one of the most important cities under Spanish governance at the time.
From 1754 to 1763 the colonies also participated as part of the British forces that fought the French in the French and Indian Wars.
NBC reports that in all the wars America has waged since its independence, approximately 1.2 million Americans have died. By far the largest toll came from the Civil War (498,332 killed) and World War II (405,399).
In that same report, NBC estimated that from 1968 to 2017, the number of firearms related deaths in the U.S. was approximately 1.53 million. Even if we subtract the deaths due to war wars since 1968, approximately 100,000, that number is still higher than the deaths caused by all our wars combined. (Note: The report is not clear whether the 1.53 million number of total deaths excludes those deaths from the totals.)
If, on the other hand, we add the number of American deaths caused by other Americans during the Civil War, the total rises to approximately 2.0 million.
Of course, this number pales in comparison with the number of citizens killed by their own countrymen in other countries like Russia. It is believed that Stalin caused the death of at least five million Russians during his regime of terror. Deaths due to Russia’s Communist revolution have been estimated as high as 9.0 million.
A similar pattern of death occurred during the Communist’s rise to power and eventual governance of China in the 20th Century.
Some countries like the Congo Free State in Africa have endured approximately 8 million deaths due to internal conflicts since 1886.
What all these statistics tell us is that human beings, including we Americans, are more likely to be killed by our own fellow citizens than by our foreign enemies. This appears to be true if we analyze our history over the last 150 years.
Granted, other factors have resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands in this country. One example is the 19th century’s widespread American Native genocide that arose from complex factors including famine, vicious and/or misguided government policies and straightforward racism. Equally problematic in these turbulent times was the forced servitude, continuing mistreatment and violent deaths inflicted on many African slaves.
On the other hand, the number of Americans that have died in combat the entire 150-year term noted above has been relatively minor as compared to the total number of deaths caused by non-combat firearms. For those of us who believe ourselves to be pacifists, this is a contradiction. Does this mean that the military is actually more humane than the American population as a whole?
In the aftermath of the massacre in Las Vegas this past weekend some are calling for the regulations or ban of the so called “bump stock” device that makes semi-automatic rifles into fully automatic weapons. This consideration is a case of too little, too late. Perhaps worse, it may turn out to be a “red herring” that will not result in any real improvements in the current situation.
When will Congress act to create rational gun control policies? It does not appear that this will be undertaken until many more of our citizens are killed by other Americans.
In America today, we likely do not need to worry about our foreign enemies. It appears we are more likely to be killed by a “friendly” fellow citizen exercising or taking malicious advantage of what he or she considers to be his or her Second Amendment rights.
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is an avid reader of history and has as his super power the ability to see (and analyze) the past. He is in Twitter (@chibcharus), Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook (Mario Salazar).