On Thursday, Americans remembered those killed on D-Day, 75 years back. It was a day of enormous heroism that was critical in turning back Nazi Germany’s attempt to conquer Europe. Thousands of Americans, Canadians, Australians and soldiers from other countries were part of the largest amphibious invasion force in history.
Some 2,501 Americans gave their lives that day, according to historic estimates. Another 1,913 soldiers from other Allied countries also died, bringing the total death toll from the immediate invasion to 4,414.
It took until late April before the number of people killed by guns in the United States in 2019 topped that number, according to data collected by the Gun Violence Archive. (This data excludes suicides.)
As a percentage of the population, the death toll on D-Day was equivalent to about 5,930 deaths in the United States today — fewer than have been killed here in shooting incidents so far this year.
In an interview with President Trump earlier this week, British journalist Piers Morgan drew a comparison between American gun violence and World War II.
Morgan noted that there were 35 gun deaths a year in Britain, half the number killed on average each day in the United States. Trump responded by making an argument he’s made before: that if the concertgoers at a nightclub in Paris had been armed during a terrorist attack there in November 2015, fewer people might have died.
“Here’s my problem with that argument,” Morgan said. “More people were shot dead in America that week than have died from guns in Paris since the Second World War. The stats are so against that argument.”
Trump replied: “Well, what are you going to do? You’re going to take the guns away from hunters?” He also pointed out that many people have rifles for entertainment.
Morgan’s data point is incorrect. According to the Gun Violence Archive, 234 people were shot and killed in the United States the week of the Paris attacks. There are more gun suicides than homicides in the United States, but, even so, France has averaged more than 1,800 gun deaths per year in recent years.
It’s still the case, though, that other nations see far fewer gun deaths than does the United States. Looking at estimates since 1990, calculated by the Global Health Data Exchange at the University of Washington, there were more homicides by gun in the United States in 1990 alone than there were from 1990 through 2017 in the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany combined.
Most of those killed in the United States this year died in incidents in which they were the only victim. While we focus on mass shootings (defined by the Gun Violence Archive as incidents in which four or more people were killed or wounded), victims of these incidents make up only a tiny fraction of all those killed in 2019.
The number of those killed and wounded by guns in the United States has already topped 16,000 this year.
An after-action report compiled by the U.S. Army after D-Day found that between June 6, 1944, and July 1, the United States suffered 2,811 deaths and 13,564 wounded.
That’s 16,375 casualties combined — slightly less than the total from shooting incidents in the United States this year through June 6.