Following Senate Budget and Taxation Hearing, Giffords Urges Maryland Lawmakers to Pass Bill to Save Lives by Reducing Urban Gun Violence

February 28, 2018 — Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, urged the Maryland Budget and Taxation Committee to pass a law that could help save lives by reducing urban gun violence.  In 2016, Maryland suffered from 707 firearm related deaths and in Baltimore alone, there were 275 firearm homicides.

The legislation considered today would establish the Maryland Violence Intervention and Prevention Program Fund to invest in evidence-based public health strategies for reducing gun violence. The fund would provide financial support to local government and community-based organization ready to implement programs that can reduce homicide, injuries, and trauma in areas disproportionately affected by gun violence.

“Gun violence continues to destroy lives and damage communities in Maryland,” said Nico Bocour, Giffords State Legislative Director. “It’s a public health crisis that requires bold solutions that have backing from the neighborhoods dealing with the problem on a daily basis. With the Maryland Violence Intervention and Prevention Program Fund we can give local leaders the ability to continue programs proven to reduce violence in cities like Baltimore. It’s time for the legislature to pass this bill so Maryland can continue to lead the way in addressing gun violence.”

Each year, nearly 115,000 people in the United States are shot. Underserved neighborhoods bear the brunt of this epidemic—black men make up 6% of the nation’s population, but account for more than half of gun homicide victims each year.

A recent report, “The Economic Cost of Gun Violence in Maryland” from Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence notes that local businesses are severely impacted when gun violence occurs because it keeps customers and tourists away and often limits hours of operation. On average, it found there are 1,672 shootings in Maryland each year, resulting in direct measurable cost of over $1.3 billion. That includes:  

  • Healthcare costs: $70 million
  • Law enforcement and criminal justice expenses: $145 million
  • Costs to employers: $8 million
  • Lost income: $1.1 billion

Much of this tab is picked up by the public. Up to 85% of gunshot victims, for example, are either uninsured or on some form of publicly funded insurance. Additionally, law enforcement efforts are funded entirely by taxpayer dollars. As a result, the direct annual cost of gun violence to Maryland taxpayers is approximately $294 million.

Even more striking, when indirect costs that impact families and communities are factored in the overall estimate the economic cost of gun violence rises to $3.6 billion per year.

Giffords Law Center has been at the forefront of offering solutions to solve the problem of urban gun violence. The center recently released a report, Investing in Intervention: The Critical Role of State-Level Support in Breaking the Cycle of Urban Gun Violence, that highlights innovative programs in three states that save lives. The report focuses on the impact of gun violence in our nation’s cities and examines how Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York each support community-based programs that have helped reduce gun homicides and shootings while saving taxpayer money.

Each has invested in evidence-based strategies to combat the violence found in their most-affected cities. Massachusetts, for example, began investing in community-based gun violence reduction strategies in 2006. From 2010 to 2015, the state’s gun homicide rate fell by 35% while nationally the rate rose 14%. Yet 45 states have so far failed to invest in evidence-based violence prevention and intervention programs.