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The Cost of Firearm Violence

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Firearm injuries cost $174 billion in the United States in 2010 and the government's firearm injury bill alone exceeded $12 billion. PIRE researcher Ted Miller estimates annual firearm injury costs average $645 per gun in America.  The costs include medical and mental health care costs, criminal justice costs, wage losses, and the value of pain, suffering and lost quality of life. Violence - assaults and suicide acts - dominated the costs. These estimates are based on the latest injury data from the Centers for Disease Control and unit costs from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation's (PIRE) widely cited injury cost model.  Data was developed by Ted R Miller, PhD, Principal Research Scientist, Children's Safety Network Economics and Data Analysis Resource Center, at Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, December 2012.  All incidence data are from CDC's WISQARS web query system, accessed December 2012.

SOURCES

Ted R Miller, PhD, Principal Research Scientist, Children's Safety Network Economics and Data Analysis Resource Center, at Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, December 2012, miller@pire.org, 240-441-2890
All incidence data are from CDC's WISQARS web query system, accessed December 2012.
 
DEFINITIONS
 
Medical Care includes payments for hospital and physician care, as well as rehabilitation, prescriptions, allied health services, medical devices, and insurance claims processing. For fatalities, also include coroner and premature burial costs.
Mental Health Care includes payments for services by psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and pastoral counselors. Also includes insurance claims processing.
Work Loss includes wages, fringe benefits, and household work lost due to death and permanent or temporary disability.
Lost Tax Revenue includes income taxes losses due to wage losses.
Criminal Justice includes criminal justice processing, sanctions, legal defense, and incarceration costs.
Emergency Transport includes ambulance, helicopter, and coroner transport costs.
Police includes costs of police response and investigation.
Criminal Justice includes criminal justice processing, sanctions, legal defense, and incarceration costs.
Insurance Claims Processing is the cost of processing public and/or private health insurance claims.
Employer Cost includes costs of recruiting and training replacements for workers who are killed or permanently disabled and juggling schedules due to temporary disability, as well as workplace disruption talking about firearm incidents.
Quality of Life values the pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life of people who were shot and their families; we did not value fear experienced by people who were not shot.
Direct Cost includes out-of-pocket costs for medical and mental health care, emergency transport, police, criminal justice, and insurance administration.
 
 

These estimates were funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services, and by Public Health Law Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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