Researcher finds gun violence costs US $250B annually

Global Business

Shootings like the one in Las Vegas lead to a now familiar American ritual—mourning for the victims, followed by discussions about gun control. 

But one thing that is rarely discussed is the economic toll of gun violence in America.

CGTN’s Karina Huber has more.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 36,000 Americans died in 2015 of gunshot wounds. Just under 85,000 were injured. One researcher estimates the cost of that violence is around $250 billion a year.

“The cost of firearm injuries per household with guns is about the same as the cost of road crashes per household with a motor vehicle,”  Ted Miller, principal research scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation said.

Miller estimates direct costs total $11 billion annually. They include medical and mental health care costs along with police investigations and court and prison costs. He says about 87 percent of those costs are paid for by taxpayers. The other $239 billion comes from indirect costs that cover lost income and the impact on victims’ quality of life.

Miller studied the cost of injury and violence in the United States for a living but he wasn’t paid for his work on gun violence, on his own time. Other researchers have reportedly been discouraged from looking into gun violence. Miller thinks researchers have been muted, in part, because of political pressure. Roughly 40 percent of U.S. households own a gun.

“So there are a lot of members of Congress who not only get lobbied by the National Rifle Association but even hear from their constituents that they care about owning their guns. I personally think that that doesn’t justify not doing gun research,” Miller said.

In a country that is deeply divided over guns, Miller hopes that by highlighting the economic costs, liberals and conservatives will come together to enact sensible laws that could reduce some of the violence.

Jeffrey Moore, senior analyst with Global Risk Insights, spoke to CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo about the firearm industry in the United States and why it is so influential.