True Story: You Are More Likely To Be Killed By Almost Anything Other Than A Terrorist

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Originally Published: 
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There have been a total of two terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since Trump was elected president. The first, on November 28, 2016, happened at Ohio State University, by a man “inspired by terrorist propaganda from ISIS,” according to CNN. The perp rammed his car into a group of people, then got out and started slashing with a knife — 11 were injured. Obama was still the commander-in-chief for that one. The other terrorist attack was carried out by a white supremacist on March 20, 2017, and involved sword-stabbing. That’s Trump’s only domestic terrorism case.

Basically, for all the anti-immigrant rhetoric seen during this administration — rhetoric Trump used in the face of the London terrorist attacks — you’re more likely to be killed by any host of things than by those big, bad Muslim bogeymen.

According to Wikipedia, which has the most recent statistics compiled, in 2016, 49 people were killed by domestic terrorism in the U.S. — all in the Orlando nightclub shooting, “currently the deadliest mass shooting in modern United States history.” 117 people were injured in 7 other attacks. This does not count the perpetrators, who often committed suicide by police officer. Contrast those numbers with the ones from Gun Violence Archive that President Obama was always trying to get us to understand. In the same year, 15,057 Americans were killed by firearms, 30,601 were injured, and 2,194 people were killed by accidental shootings. You are far, far more likely to be killed while cleaning your own gun than to be mowed down by an ISIS-crazed radical.

You’re also far more likely to die of that disease you avoid getting a shot for: influenza. As of September 15, 2016, the CDC says that “85 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated pediatric deaths” occurred in the United States. Unfortunately, they don’t keep count of adult deaths, but they do estimate them. Those estimates ranged from a low end of 12,000 adults per year (2011–2012) to 56,000 adults (2012–2013). Even the 9/11 attacks pale in comparison to this number, which killed 2,996 people — let alone the Orlando attacks, which while horrifically tragic and the worst gun violence in American history, destroyed 49 lives — not 56,000.

But if you don’t worry about the flu, worry about the police. The vast majority of officers mean well and are well-trained. But as for the ones who aren’t, well, according to PBS Newshour, 957 people were killed by the police themselves in 2016. Half of those deaths were white men, but when you account for population, “black men were three times as likely to be killed by police and they accounted for a third of the unarmed killed.” Moreover, last year, 64 police officers were killed in the line of duty. That’s more than the number of Americans killed in terrorist attacks in the same amount of time.

If you’re not starting to realize that you have a whole lot more to worry about than terrorists, here’s some more stats to help solidify that revelation. In 2016, a whopping 136,053 people, according to the according to the CDC, died of plain old accidents. And Fortune says that 2016 was the deadliest year for car accidents in the U.S. in nearly a decade. They state that as many as 40,000 people died in motor vehicles crashes last year, a 6% rise from 2015,” and 4.6 million people were seriously injured. 4.6 million seriously injured. That really puts those 117 people injured by terrorists into perspective — not to trivialize any injury or pain, but the sheer magnitude of suffering caused by car accidents is absurd. If Donald Trump really wanted to save American lives, he’d pour money into Google’s self-driving car.

But we mothers don’t worry about ourselves. We worry about our children instead. We don’t care if we get killed in a terrorist attack, just don’t take our babies. At least, that’s how I feel about it. But in 2014, the last year they have data for, the CDC reported an incredible 23,215 infant deaths, or 582.1 per 100,000 live births. You don’t have to worry about terrorism hurting your precious ones; you have to worry about them making it out of the hospital. But even if you get them out, well, Cure Search reports that last year, 3,468 of child deaths were attributable to childhood cancer. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for children ages 10–14.

Speaking of suicide, worry about your untreated mental illness more than you worry about the terrorists. If Donald Trump really wanted to save American lives, he’d start a massive push to make mental health care, including in-patient care, available to anyone who needs it. In 2013, according to the CDC, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death with a full 41,149 people deciding to end their lives that year. That’s 113 suicides a day, the agency says, or 1 every 13 minutes. Last year, 0.6% of Americans attempted suicide. That’s far more than the number affected by terrorism.

Then there’s America’s best friend, the dog, which killed 31 people last year, according to Admittedly less than the terrorism count of 49. However, they also attacked 4.5 million people in the same time, says the CDC, and 1 in 5 bites gets infected. And that 4.5 million includes 6,750 postal workers in 2016 alone. 2015 saw a total of 28,000 people undergoing reconstructive surgery as a result of dog bites. Fido’s starting to look far more dangerous than that lady with the hijab, isn’t he? (That’s because he is.)

There’s also the literal bolt from the blue. Last year, according to NOAA, 38 people were killed by lightning strike — again, less than domestic terrorism. However, they also report an average, over several years, of 279 injuries per year. You have a 1/42,000 chance of being struck in one year, and a 1/13,000 chance of being struck in your lifetime. Your chance of being hurt by a refugee terrorist, according to Business Insider? 1 in 46,192,893.

It keeps getting better. In 2014, says the CDC, 31,959 people died of accidental falls — a mammoth number of deaths, especially when compared to the 49 horrifically gunned down in Orlando. 42,032 people died of accidental poisoning. And while the CDC won’t give hard numbers for one year of food poisoning mortality data, it’s clear from their estimates that food kills more people than terrorists — they peg the number at around 3,000 people. So watch what you put in your mouth, especially that poultry.

You have a lot to worry about as a parent — whether your kid is eating their veggies or sleeping through the night, whether they’re happy and healthy and loved, whether they’re polite and kind and don’t savagely bully or bite other children. Then there’s all this stuff to worry about: car accidents, cancer, food poisoning. Stuff, like terrorism, we can’t stop or prevent. Stuff we can’t help. Stuff that keeps us up at night — or should.

If we’re worked up about the immigrants and refugees, then we’re worrying about the wrong thing. Make roads safer. Help get opioids out of kids’ hands. Funnel more money into public schools. Provide adequate, affordable health care for all Americans. Make sure Grandpa doesn’t fall, and baby doesn’t eat all the aspirin. These are actual things you can do to help keep your loved ones safe and thriving.

The Muslim ban? That won’t do a damn thing.

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