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Media Outlets Answer President's Gun Violence Challenge

Count CNN and NBC News among those media outlets that took President Obama up on his call to compare terrorist violence and U.S. gun violence.

Frustrated at yet another mass shooting, the president took to the airwaves Thursday night (Oct. 1) to comment on the Umpqua Community College attack in Roseburg, Ore.

He suggested the media has a role in getting the message across that mas gun violence must stop and to counter the press releases that will call for more guns and fewer gun safety laws. In an effort to avoid criticism for "politicizing the issue" -- though he argued guns threaten the body politic -- President Obama asked media outlets to publish gun violence stats.

"I would ask news organizations ... to tally up the number of Americans who have been killed by terrorist attacks in the last decade and the number of Americans who have been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports," Obama said. "This won't be information coming from me, it will be coming from you."

On its website Friday (Oct. 2), CNN did just that.

"Using numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we found that from 2004 to 2013, 316,545 people died by firearms on U.S. soil," CNN reported. "This data covered all manners of death, including homicide, accident and suicide."

CNN noted that 2013 is the most recent year CDC data for deaths by firearms is available.

By contrast, CNN said, "[a]ccording to the U.S. State Department, the number of U.S. citizens killed overseas as a result of incidents of terrorism from 2004 to 2013 was 277. In addition, we compiled all terrorism incidents inside the U.S. and found that between 2004 and 2013, there were 36 people killed in domestic acts of terrorism. This brings the total to 313."

NBC News took on the challenge on its website as well, looking at data from 2001 to 2013 and taking a slightly different tack than CNN. While it also used CDC stats, the news organization used only homicides and did not include "legal interventionism" (police) or suicides.

NBC found that while 153,144 people were killed in firearm homicides over that period (the number would have been 394,912 if all deaths were included), only 3,046 people in the U.S. died in terrorist or possible terrorist attacks with the 9/11 attacks obviously representing the majority of those deaths.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.