The costs of gun violence, direct and indirect.

The costs of gun violence, direct and indirect.

by Doyle Ranstrom on Mar 28, 2021

I remember it like it was yesterday or even this morning. I remember the room. I remember the smell in the room and the color of the wall.  I remember the nurse or nurses who checked on her.  I remember her breathing with a ventilator. I remember the family and friends who visited us in the visitor's room.  I remembered watching her lay in the hospital bed in the ICU. 

The "her" was one of my older sisters.  She had been in a car accident on a Friday and died a few days later.  She was one week away from graduating from nursing school in the Twin Cities.  She had been a passenger in a one-car accident.  The driver, a classmate, was fine.  I was 14 years old and just completed my freshmen year in high school.  

When I woke up that Friday morning a long time ago, my sister was fine, excited to start her career as a nurse. When I finally went to bed late that night, she was in an ICU and a few days later, dead.  

The emotional impact on our family was severe.  In some sense, my mother who lived to age 89 never fully recovered. It was only when I was well into my career as a CFP®, that I started to think about the economic impact.  My sister was looking forward to a long career as a nurse.  She would have contributed to the economy not only as a worker but also as a health care professional.  

I think of this whenever I see a fatal car accident.  But I also think of her untimely death every time I see a mass shooting such as what we just witnessed in Boulder, CO, and earlier in Atlanta, GA.  The morning of each shooting or any shooting for that matter, the families of the victims, spouses, parents, children, siblings along with other relatives and friends, likely woke up in the morning thinking about a lot of things.  I doubt if any of them thought, the victim, their loved one, would be gone at the end of the day and their life would never be the same. 

In the last few days, there has and will continue to be a discussion about gun violence and regulation in the US. Then it will go away.  In 2020 almost 20,000 Americans died from gun violence and another 24,000 from gun-related suicide.

Let's be honest, if a mass shooting of elementary students in Connecticut or high school students in Florida does not lead to regulation, it will never happen.  The reason is the supporters of gun violence through the use of lobbyists, Pacs and SuperPacs will bribe state and National leaders to support their agenda. Regardless if legal or not, when an organization gives money to an elected leader to support its agenda, it's a form of a bribe.  

In the debate about gun control, there is one area on which I believe all can agree, 100% of all gun violence should be paid by the firearms industry. A February 2021 Report from Everytown Research and Policy states including medical costs, police and criminal justice costs, employer costs, and work-loss, the annual cost of gun violence in the US is $66 Billion.  

It was another part of the Report that really struck me.  The Report estimated quality of life costs exceed $200 Billion. If that does not make sense to you, ask yourself this, "do you think the parents and other family members of victims in either Sandy Hook Elementary or Stoneman Douglas High School are or ever will be the same?"

According to a 2019 Gallop Poll, about 32% of US adults own guns.  But 100% of US adults are responsible for the costs related to gun violence.  In a very real sense, non-gun owners are subsidizing gun owners.  With the economic costs of the pandemic, trillions of dollars of new debts, the US can no longer afford to pay for the costs of gun violence.  Through the use of sales taxes along with ongoing registration fees, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, and owners need to pay 100% of the costs on a pro-rata basis.  Pro-rata simply means types of firearms would pay the total costs in relation to their usage in total gun violence costs. 

Some may say the economic benefit of firearms outweighs the costs.  According to a firearms website, the economic benefit of the firearm industry is about $64 Billion which is less than the direct cost of firearm violence and substantially less than the total cost including quality of life costs.  

Let's be clear.  I am not advocating regulation or limitations on the firearm industry.  I am simply advocating the industry pay 100% of the direct costs of gun violence in the US.  We simply can no longer afford to subsidize it.  

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