Guns killed more Americans than AIDS, war, terrorism, drug overdose combined

Guns for sale are displayed in Roseburg Gun Shop in Roseburg, Oregon, on Oct. 3, 2015. Christopher Harper-Mercer, the gunman slain by police after he killed his English professor and eight others at an Oregon college, was once turned away from a firearms academy by an instructor who recalled finding him 'weird' and 'a little bit too anxious' for high-level weapons training.Reuters

Immediately after the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, that resulted in the death of 10 people, including the gunman who killed himself, President Barack Obama made a challenge to the media on Thursday.

"Have news organisations tally up the number of Americans who've been killed through terrorist attacks in the last decade and the number of Americans who've been killed by gun violence, and post those side by side on your news reports," he asked.

VOX analysed the data and concluded that Obama was right—guns killed more Americans between 2001 and 2013 than AIDS, terrorism, war in Iraq and Afghanistan and illegal drug overdoses combined.

It said, "even in 2001, over 10 times as many Americans were killed by guns as by terrorists. In an average year between 2002 and 2011, there were roughly a thousand times as many Americans killed by guns as by terrorism."

In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there were 6,893 Americans who died based on iCasualties data. In contrast, guns killed Americans numbering almost five times that figure in 2013 alone, VOX said.

The AIDS epidemic in the US started in the 80s and 90s. "Since then, public health campaigns have limited the spread of HIV and anti-retroviral drugs prevent many HIV-positive people from developing full-blown AIDS. Guns kill far more Americans per year than AIDS, and yet aren't treated as a public health crisis by the US government," VOX noted.

Drug overdoses, it said, kill about one-third as many Americans per year as gun-related homicides, suicides and accidents.

Ian Mercer, the father of Oregon shooter Chris Harper-Mercer, said guns are to blame for the incident.

"How on earth could he compile 13 guns? How could that happen?" he said, according to CNN.

He added, "We talk about gun laws. We talk about gun control. Every time something like this happens, they talk about it and nothing gets done. I'm not trying to say that that's to blame for what happened, but if Chris had not been able to get hold of 13 guns, this wouldn't have happened."

Mercer said he has never held a gun and he does not want to. "I'm a great believer (in) you don't buy guns, don't buy guns, you don't buy guns," he said.