Economic Consequences of US Gun Violence

by Vins

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 US, reported at least 314 mass shootings in 2022 alone and more than 22,000 individuals whose lives were cut short gun violence.

According to a July 2022 report titled “The Economic Cost of Gun Violence” by Everytown for Gun Safety, “America cannot afford gun violence.” In an average year, US gun violence has an economic consequence of $557 billion, a figure that continues to increase as more mass shootings occur. These costs represent the lifetime expenses associated with gun violence, such as long-term physical and mental health care, earnings lost to disability or death, criminal justice and police investigations, and more.

The enormous economic costs of gun violence impact all Americans. According to Everytown, 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 on a daily basis 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 almost double or more the amount of costs, compared to individuals living in states with stronger gun restrictions.

To raise awareness of this growing toll, in June 2022 Everytown launched a $400,000 “Don’t Look Away” advertisement campaign to urge senators to reach an agreement regarding firearms measures and to reinforce the urgent need for stricter gun laws following mass shootings in Texas and New York.

“Calculating the economic cost of gun violence is a critical addition to this narrative because it puts a price on our collective inaction and equips policymakers, advocates, local leaders, and all Americans with additional information that can help advance action to prevent shootings and keep our families safe,” said the Everytown staff.

As of July 2022, ABC News is the only major news outlet to cover the economic impacts of gun violence, stating that “gun violence costs in America haven’t been thoroughly analyzed because they haven’t been the top priority for policy makers who are looking for solutions to curb gun violence.”

Source: Everytown Research & Policy Staff, “The Economic Cost of Gun Violence,” Everytown, July 19, 2022.

Student Researcher: Lauren Reduzzi (Drew University)

Faculty Evaluator: Mickey Huff (Diablo Valley College)