New Report Shows How Gun Violence Impacts Communities and Taxpayers of the State
January 10, 2018 — With the seventh highest gun violence rate in the nation, Missouri families know all too well the pain and devastation brought by gun violence. In a new report, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence takes an even closer look at the epidemic by examining the yearly financial impact of the state’s more than 1,800 gun-related incidents. The analysis, The Economic Cost of Gun Violence in Missouri, finds that the directly measurable cost of gun violence in Missouri exceeds $1.9 billion, with a direct annual cost to taxpayers of approximately $384 million.
“Gun violence brings with it not only overwhelming pain and emotional distress but also a price tag we often forget about,” said Mike McLively, urban gun violence initiative director at Giffords Law Center. “This public safety threat devastates victims and their families while causing lost opportunities that leave communities across Missouri reeling. The healthcare system, law enforcement, victims, and businesses all bear strains after a shooting that lead to higher costs for everyone. Missouri’s well-being is on the line, and it is our hope that our data provides leaders guidance to address the causes behind gun violence and do more to protect Missourians from shootings before they occur.”
Giffords Law Center finds the $1.9 in directly measurable costs exacts a substantial toll on Missouri’s economy. These costs include:
- Healthcare costs: $98 million
- Law enforcement and criminal justice expenses: $159 million
- Costs to employers: $12 million
- Lost income: $1.7 billion
A large portion 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 Missouri taxpayers is approximately $384 million.
The impact of gun violence in Missouri is not felt equally by all residents. According to the report, more than two-thirds of gun homicide victims in Missouri are African American. Black men in the state are more than 17 times as likely as white men to be a victim of gun violence—and the numbers are rising. Gun homicides from 2014 to 2016 rose by nearly 43% and were concentrated cities like St. Louis and Kansas City.
Even more striking, when indirect costs that impact families and communities, such as pain and suffering, are factored in, the overall estimate the economic cost of gun violence rises to $5.5 billion per year. There are many concrete steps that Missouri can and should be taking to address this public health crisis, including enacting gun safety laws and investing in evidence-based violence prevention and intervention strategies.