Every day when you turn on the TV news there seems to be at least one story of a shooting even in small states like Iowa. Often that is about the last we hear of the victims. In our short attention span society today’s victim is soon replaced by tomorrow’s victim. We don’t hear of the grieving family left behind if the victim dies – the spouse, the children, the parents who must suddenly cope with a shattered life.
Nor do we hear of those that survive but whose lives are often thrown into a hell on earth of bankruptcy, dysfunctional bodies, countless surgeries and shattered families. Another aspect seldom considered is the loss of the victim’s talent in this world – what could they have produced? Could they have created the next internet mega company had their live’s not been so tragically altered? So much lost. Almost all of it in the United States senseless and avoidable. Australia showed us that a country with a will can take on the gun culture and win.
When the news of the murder of a young woman at Coral Ridge Mall spread early this summer, my heart went out to her family. Their lives are now shattered due to some guy’s fantasies and access to guns. How many times must lives be shattered before people cry out “Enough!” Even the slaughter of children at Newtown couldn’t get this country off the schneid.
One question that has persisted in my mind over many years is whether any group pr agency has ever put a dollar amount on the cost of gun violence in this country. Try as I might, I could never find any research that delved very deeply into this subject. It seemed rather odd that in a country that places a value on nearly everything the cost of our love affair with guns has gone mostly unresearched. Then, while waiting for an appointment earlier this week, I had a chance to catch up on my Mother Jones reading. Low and behold, I ran into this article.
There is a treasure trove of information in this article. It is hard to pick out representative passages to entice you to click on the link and take it all in. But here are a couple to start with:
HOW MUCH DOES gun violence cost our country? It’s a question we’ve been looking into at Mother Jones ever since the 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, left 58 wounded and 12 dead. How much care would the survivors and the victims’ families need? What would be the effects on the broader community, and how far out would those costs ripple? As we’ve continued to investigate gun violence, one of our more startling discoveries is that nobody really knows.
Jennifer Longdon was one of at least 750,000 Americans injured by gunshots over the last decade, and she was lucky not to be one of the more than 320,000 killed. Each year more than 11,000 people are murdered with a firearm, and more than 20,000 others commit suicide using one. Hundreds of children die annually in gun homicides, and each week seems to bring news of another toddler accidentally shooting himself or a sibling with an unsecured gun. And perhaps most disturbingly, even as violent crime overall has declined steadily in recent years, rates of gun injury and death are climbing (up 11 and 4 percent since 2011) and mass shootings have been on the rise.
Yet, there is no definitive assessment of the costs for victims, their families, their employers, and the rest of us—including the major sums associated with criminal justice, long-term health care, and security and prevention. Our media is saturated with gun carnage practically 24/7. So why is the question of what we all pay for it barely part of the conversation?
Why the lack of solid data? A prime reason is that the National Rifle Association and other influential gun rights advocates have long pressured political leaders to shut down research related to firearms. The Annals of Internal Medicine editorial detailed this “suppression of science”:
“Two years ago, we called on physicians to focus on the public health threat of guns. The profession’s relative silence was disturbing but in part explicable by our inability to study the problem. Political forces had effectively banned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other scientific agencies from funding research on gun-related injury and death. The ban worked: A recent systematic review of studies evaluating access to guns and its association with suicide and homicide identified no relevant studies published since 2005.”
Click on the link and read the full story. Mother Jones is one of the very best investigative journals in the country. They outdo themselves with this article.