Any shooting sets off a cascade of costs, from surgeons who repair damaged organs to police who collect evidence and try to identify a suspect. An arrest, trial and conviction push the bill higher. Taxpayers foot the bill for the police, court and prison resources. In many cases, gunshot victims are uninsured and rely on government or charitable programs to cover medical costs, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That’s to say nothing of the societal costs , including the grief and anguish of loved ones, families living in fear, neighborhoods losing property values, people moving away and fewer businesses coming in.
“We’re all victims of gun violence in a very tangible way,” said Prof. Philip Cook of Duke University. “Even though those medical and disability costs are high, they are still a small fraction of what you might think of (as) the social costs.” The Journal Sentinel analyzed one of the 583 shootings in the city last year. It found direct costs of more than $700,000. That estimate was derived through interviews with experts and a review of court records, police reports and the victim’s medical bills. Nearly 60 percent was to pay for the incarceration and supervision of a shooter, 15. Although the public might feel immediate sympathy for a shooting victim, much of the long-term attention is focused on the offender, said District Attorney John Chisholm. The victim’s experiences — including physical, mental and economic effects — recede into the background. “I don’t think the issue of cost is at the forefront of the public’s consciousness,” Chisholm said.