Fact 3: Last month, the National Counterterrorism Center issued its 2011 report. Its drafters concluded that "seventeen
U.S. private citizens worldwide were killed by terrorist attacks in 2011" and that "fourteen
U.S. private citizens were wounded by terrorism in 2011." In the NCTC's 2010 Report, those figures were 15 killed and nine wounded.
Fact 4: Last year, around the anniversary of the terror attacks, David Sanger of the Times estimated the cost of America's counter-terrorism program following 9/11 to be $3.3 trillion. On Tuesday, my Atlantic colleague Steve Clemons put the figure at $2.7 trillion for just defense spending alone. Let's agree, whatever the exact figure, that it's an awful lot.
Fact 5: According to 2008 statistics, compiled by the CDC's National Center for Injury and Violence Prevention and Control and chronicled by the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence, 31,593 people died in America as a result of gun violence. Of those, 12,179 people were murdered. Nearly 3,000 children died as a result of gun violence that year, and another 66,749 people were injured.
Fact 6: According to 2009 statistics, again compiled by the CDC, 31,147 were killed in America by firearms. Of this figure, 11,493 were murdered. The Brady Campaign estimates that 334,182 people have been killed by gun violence since the Twin Towers fell.
Fact 7: In Colorado Friday, an alleged lone gunman, armed with an assault rifle, body armor, and gas grenades, killed 12 people and wounded 58 more. Last month, during a single weekend in the city of Chicago, eight people were killed and 45 wounded as a result of gun violence. Approximately 33 people are murdered each day in America.
Fact 8: According to a 2011 CRS Report, from FY2001 to FY2010 "Congress increased direct appropriations for the
ATF by 50.2%, from $771.0 million to $1.158 billion... The proposed FY2011
firearms program allocation accompanying the Administration's budget request is
$837.4 million, or 72% of the FY2011 budget request ($1.163 billion)." In the end, Congress evidently approved an ATF 2011 budget of $1.113 billion. For FY2012, that number evidently is $1,152 billion. (The ATF puts the increase at only 45% over the period, and says the appropriations through 2010 came to $1,115 billion).
Fact 9: Of course the ATF isn't the only federal bureau which addresses the issue of the enforcement of existing gun laws in America. Other arms of the federal government also are involved. Although I could not find these expense figures on short notice (earnest crowd, please feel free to source), let's stipulate that another $2 billion dollars of federal money* goes toward these efforts. I think that's a generous estimate.
My question now is simple: Why do we spend at least 1,000 times more money protecting ourselves from terrorism than we do protecting ourselves from gun violence? I'm not necessarily suggesting that we spend less on anti-terrorism programs. Like everyone else, I am grateful there have been no mass casualty terror events since 9/11. I'm just wondering, instead, what possible justification there could be for spending so relatively little to try to reduce the casualties of gun violence.