Gun Violence Costs Florida $5 Billion a Year, Gun Control Group Says
Ian Witlen

Gun Violence Costs Florida $5 Billion a Year, Gun Control Group Says

Asking why this country makes it extremely easy for deranged teens to by military-style rifles clearly doesn't persuade politicians to enact basic gun control laws after yet another mass killing. Florida lawmakers, in particular, aren't really moved by appeals to their hearts, morals, or consciences, and it's debatable whether some or any of them even possess those things. Instead, progressives are often forced to couch their requests in economic terms — because the status quo is not only immoral but also costly.

Take, for instance, Florida's gun laws: A new report from the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun control nonprofit formerly known as the Legal Community Against Violence, issued a report this month about the astronomical economic cost of Florida's awful gun violence laws. By the Giffords Center's count, Floridians are blowing more than $5 billion per year in direct costs stemming from gunshot wounds. The center issued the paper in the wake of the Parkland school massacre.

According to the Giffords Center, Florida sees an average of 827 gun-related homicides, 1,538 gun-related suicides, 1,694 nonfatal interpersonal shootings, and 1,773 unintentional shootings a year. Naturally, those incidents force both the state and private companies to expend resources on health-care costs, as well as dispatching emergency responders.

"The more than 6,000 shootings each year in Florida are a serious drain on the economy. Based on the gun violence-related expenses we can directly measure, including healthcare costs ($228 million per year), law
enforcement and criminal justice expenses ($383 million per year), costs to employers ($29 million per year), and lost income (nearly $4.4 billion per year), the initial price tag of gun violence in Florida is over $5 billion per year," the center writes.

Though the bulk of that $5 billion comes in the form of "lost wages," the Giffords Center estimates taxpayers cover roughly one-fifth of that cost. According to the center, 85 percent of gun violence victims are uninsured or on a publicly funded insurance program such as Medicaid or Medicare. Tallying up law enforcement costs and other state-funded factors, the Giffords Center estimates $950 million from taxpayers is burned up on gun violence issues every year.

The center also estimates that the "quality of life" loss due to "pain and suffering" has an economic value of roughly $9.1 billion, but it doesn't cite how it determined those figures.

The Giffords Center has also issued similar reports for New York, Ohio, Arizona, Maryland, and Minnesota. Florida comes in second behind only Ohio, where costs balloon to $7.3 billion per year. The other four states barely eclipse $2 billion.

Gun advocates, especially the National Rifle Association, will surely argue that most of these costs are a necessary price to pay in order to preserve Americans' constitutional right to own firearms. And, sure, even a repeal of the Second Amendment would not rid the nation of the hundreds of millions of guns already circulating throughout the nation.

But the Giffords Center notes that states (and countries) with stricter gun control laws tend to have fewer shooting incidents and therefore spend fewer resources on gun violence. The center's latest "gun-law scorecard" issued this year gave Florida a big, fat "F" when it comes to gun-safety laws.

The center is not calling for the Sunshine State to remove all guns. Instead, the analysts argue that simple laws such as universal background-check requirements, mandatory safe-storage laws, and a repeal of the state's horrendous Stand Your Ground "shoot-first" law could help reduce gun deaths. A majority of voters polled in the wake of the Parkland shooting seem to agree.

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