‘Domestic Terrorism’ Kills Fewer Americans Than Lightning Strikes, GAO Report Reveals

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Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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Despite being widely covered as one of the gravest threats to the United States, “domestic terrorism” killed fewer Americans than lightning strikes between 2010 and 2021, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Between 2010 and 2021, a total of 145 deaths were attributed to domestic terrorism across 231 different incidents, according to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) data reviewed by the GAO. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an average of 28 Americans per year were killed by lightning strikes from 2006 to 2011. Assuming an average number of deaths per year, this would mean that around 336 Americans died from lightning strikes between 2010 and 2021.

The GAO’s report, which it released Thursday, is a summary of previous work the office has done on violent extremism and terrorism. The organization sought to advise government agencies like the FBI and the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis (DHS I&A) on how they can do a better job containing domestic extremists and preventing domestic terrorism incidents.

Despite domestic terrorism accounting for a statistically insignificant 13.2 deaths per year across the entire U.S., the Biden administration has made a key point of snuffing out domestic terrorism and cracking down on extremist ideologies, particularly in institutions like the military. Those efforts were inspired largely by the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. (RELATED: New Study Debunks Major Dem Talking Point About ‘Domestic Extremism’ And The Military)

Despite the relatively low number of domestic terrorism incidents that took place over the 11-year period studied, the GAO also found that the number of domestic terrorism-related cases open with the FBI increased from 1,981 in 2013 to 9,049 in 2021, a jump of 357 percent.

In 2021, the Secretary of Homeland Security said domestic terrorism poses the most substantial terrorism threat to the United States.

In its conclusions, the GAO recommended that the FBI and other agencies coordinate to better share domestic terrorism data and that DHS and the Justice Department develop a comprehensive counter-extremism plan with measurable goals going forward.