March 7, 2018—In the wake of the school shooting in Parkland and as the Florida legislature debates new gun laws, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence unveiled a new analysis that details the damage gun violence does to Florida’s economy. The research, put together by experts at Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, finds the overall economic cost exceeds exceeds $5 billion, with a direct annual cost to Florida taxpayers of approximately $950 million. The new report, The Economic Cost of Gun Violence in Florida, highlights the need for lawmakers in the state to focus on passing important, life saving solutions that have been passed in other areas of the country.
“Gun violence devastates individuals, families, and the entire community where it takes place,” said Mike McLively, senior staff attorney at Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “Our research makes it clear that it’s not only victims and their families who are impacted by gun violence, it’s the entire state. Healthcare providers, employers, law enforcement, and local businesses face enormous costs each time a shooting happens. Florida has suffered through horrific shootings like Parkland and Pulse and also bears the scars of daily gun violence. It’s time for leaders in Florida to do more to save lives and ease this horrific epidemic’s cost to the state.”
The report notes that, on average, there are more than 6,000 shootings in Florida each year, resulting in direct measurable cost of over $5 billion. That includes:
Healthcare costs: $228 million
Law enforcement and criminal justice expenses: $383 million
Costs to employers: $29 million
Lost income: $4.4 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 Florida taxpayers is approximately $950 million.
Even more striking, when indirect costs that impact families and communities, including pain and suffering, are factored in the overall estimate the economic cost of gun violence rises to $14.1 billion per year.
Recently, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence released the latest edition of its Annual Gun Law Scorecard, which grades and ranks each state on the strength of its gun laws. This comprehensive, 50-state analysis clearly shows how stronger gun laws help reduce gun death rates and save lives. Florida received an “F” due to its lack of comprehensive gun safety measures. For example, the state has yet to enact universal background checks and does not regulate the sale or possession of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines.
Moreover, the Florida legislature in recent years has passed dangerous laws that actually make residents more vulnerable to gun violence. In 2017, Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law was amended to become even more extreme. Although the amendment was deemed unconstitutional, it is currently on appeal. Rather than encouraging people to shoot first and ask questions later, the Florida legislature should be enacting common sense reforms to keep guns out of the wrong hands.
Giffords is also supporting research and programs to fight urban gun violence in order to help save lives and lessen the economic impact of gun violence. Last December, Giffords Law Center, in partnership with PICO National Network and the Community Justice Reform Coalition, released a landmark report, Investing in Intervention: The Critical Role of State-Level Support in Breaking the Cycle of Urban Gun Violence, which highlights innovative programs in three states, including New York, that dramatically reduce levels of gun violence in impacted communities. Florida should invest directly in similar programs.