From the Publisher: Jul 17 1989

Nation editor Robert T. Zintl never forgot how LIFE magazine in 1969 drove home the human cost of the Viet Nam War by publishing photographs of 217 of the 242 American servicemen killed in a single week. Today far more Americans die each week from gunfire. Zintl proposed that TIME undertake a project to find out who the victims are and how they die.

The task of getting the information -- by canvassing thousands of coroners, police desks and sheriffs' offices from coast to coast -- was logistically awesome. It would have been impossible without TIME's national reporting network, which includes...

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