Legislation will encourage growth of public health programs that have proven successful at reducing gunfire in other states
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence recently published a landmark study on the cost of gun violence to Maryland’s economy
April 24, 2018 — Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, applauded the Maryland Legislature for passing a law that will help address urban gun violence by boosting support for evidence-based public health programs. In 2016, Maryland suffered from 707 gun-related deaths and in Baltimore alone, there were 275 firearm homicides.
“Communities in Maryland know all too well the heartbreak and devastation that gun violence causes,” said former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of Giffords. “Bullets in these neighborhoods don’t know boundaries. They hurt people in parks, at home, walking to school, driving a car. Too many lives are being cut short, too many families are being left devastated. This needs to stop. Maryland has been leading the nation in the fight to enact gun safety legislation, and that legacy continues today. I applaud the Governor for signing this bill and legislators for championing legislation that will continue to reduce violence in cities like Baltimore. Together they are showing that courage can save lives.”
In February, Giffords joined Maryland leaders, recipients of these life-saving programs and bill sponsor Delegate Brooke Lierman at a press conference in Baltimore in support of this legislation. The bill signed by Governor Hogan establishes the Maryland Violence Intervention and Prevention Program Fund to invest in evidence-based public health strategies for reducing gun violence. The fund will provide financial support to local governments and community-based organizations ready to implement programs that can reduce homicide, injuries, and trauma in areas disproportionately affected by 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. This is true in Maryland as well – in 2016 almost 90 percent of the state’s 436 gun homicide victims were African American.
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 lifting up proven solutions to address 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 and lifesaving programs in three states. 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. Today, Maryland joins the small but growing number of states that recognize the importance of investing in these proven solutions.
Giffords is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives from gun violence. Led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, Giffords inspires the courage of people from all walks of life to make America safer.