18 December 2009

The Cost of Gun violence

I was curious as to how much this "Freedom" and "right" costs the American public and found John Rosenthal's December 15, 2009 post Health Care Costs and Gun Violence. He's a businessman, not a public health professional, but even being in business would give him an ability to assess the costs. He gives the figure that:
On average, guns kill or wound 276 people every day in America. Of those, 75 adults and 9 children will die. In the US there are more than 30,000 deaths and over 100,000 injuries related to gun violence each year.

He also states that:
According to the Public Services Research Institute in 2008, firearm homicide and assault cost federal, state and local governments $4.7 billion annually including costs for medical care, mental health, emergency transport, police, criminal justice and lost taxes. They also state that when lost productivity, lost quality of life, and pain and suffering are added to medical costs, estimates of the annual cost of firearm violence range from $20 billion to $100 billion. According to the National Center for Disease Control, the cost of firearm fatalities is the highest of any injury-related death. In fact, the average cost of a gunshot related death is $33,000, while gun-related injuries total over $300,000 for each occurrence.

OK, That means firearms injuries cost the United States public between 20 and 100 billion dollars a year. Jens and Ludwig calculate the cost of gun violence at the higher figure ($100 billion). Fiscal Spending in the US was $2,979 Billion with medicare and medicade spending coming in at 23% at a cost of $682 Billion. That would make the cost of gun violence roughly 3 to 15% of the Medicare/Medicade budget. The 100 Billion figure puts the cost of gun violence at around 3% of the total US Spending figure.

To put this number into perspective, $100 billion could be used to cover nearly two-thirds of those in America who are currently without health insurance, or to pay college tuition at a good public university for 27 million people – roughly the entire population of New York and New Jersey combined. And this reflects the costs of gun violence for just one year.

Now, the fact that firearm injuries are preventable, which they are if we reduce the amount of firearms in circulation via registration and conditions on firearms' sales. Simply requiring a criminal background check for all gun sales would significantly restrict access to guns by those who historically misuse them without limiting the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens. Of course, firearms regulation is the bugaboo of the gun cretin crowd who would fill this blog with comments, if I allowed them. On the other hand, they remain mute about the cost to society of their "right". In fact, they scream loudly about rights, yet are not willing to show responsibility. Perhaps it is time to make them pay for their right!

Rights come with responsibilities. I think that the sale of firearms, ammunition, reloading supplies, and other gun related items should be heavily taxed to defray the cost to society since it is society that must bear the burden of their "right". But why should society be burdened and why has society allowed itself to be burdened by those who claim this right, yet are not willing to shoulder their responsibilities?

If they can't exercise their right in a responsible manner, then this right should not exist in the matter of public interest.