#19 – Economic Consequences of US Gun Violence “Far Costlier” Than Previously Known

by Shealeigh
Published: Last Updated on

Gun violence costs Americans an astounding $557 billion per year in direct, indirect, and long-term costs, according to a July 2022 study by gun-control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, reported on by NPR. Everytown’s study, “The Economic Cost of Gun Violence,” firmly stated, “America cannot afford gun violence.”

As NPR journalist Eric Westervelt detailed in his report, the $557 billion figure—roughly 2.6 percent of the US gross domestic product—includes the “immediate costs of a shooting, such as the police response, investigations and ambulance services all the way to the long-term health care costs. The analysis also includes estimates for [victims’] lost earnings, costs incurred by the criminal justice system, the price of mental health care and more.”

According to Westervelt, separate research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine documented a four-fold rise in healthcare spending from 2008 through 2018 related to non-fatal injuries caused by guns. Together, Westervelt said, the two studies “underscore that the repercussions from firearm deaths and injuries are deeper, wider and far costlier than previously known.”

The number of mass shootings in the United States has grown considerably in the past few years. In July 2022, the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that tracks shootings in the United States, reported at least 314 mass shootings in 2022 alone and more than twenty-two thousand individuals whose lives were cut short by gun violence.

The enormous economic costs of gun violence impact all Americans. According to the Everytown study, taxpayers, survivors, families, and employers pay an average of $7.79 million daily in health care costs. American taxpayers pay more than $30 million every day in police and criminal justice costs for investigation, prosecution, and incarceration. And employers lose an average of $1.47 million daily in productivity, revenue, and costs required to recruit and train replacements for victims of gun violence. Overall, US society loses $1.34 billion daily in quality-of-life costs from the impacts of gun violence on shooting victims and their families. The annual cost for each resident in the country is about $1,698. However, states with weaker gun laws and more gun-related injuries and fatalities suffer more economically, with per capita costs for firearms violence double or more than in states with stronger gun restrictions.

In addition to NPR, Time also reported the estimated $557 billion total annual cost of gun violence in the United States. The Time article referenced a special issue of the medical journal JAMA on gun violence, which cited the Everytown study as its source for the statistic.91 Other corporate news outlets, such as the Los Angeles Times, have sometimes covered the economic costs of gun violence but without citing the July 2022 Everytown study or its estimate of the astronomically high total cost of firearm violence.

Eric Westervelt, “American Gun Violence Has Immense Costs Beyond the Death Toll, New Studies Find,” NPR, July 21, 2022.

Student Researcher: Lauren Reduzzi (Drew University)

Faculty Evaluator: Mickey Huff (Diablo Valley College)