Gunshot wounds and deaths cost Americans at least $12 billion a year in court proceedings, insurance costs, and hospitalizations paid for by government health programs, reports USA Today. “I think people probably don’t understand that as well as they ought to,” said Ted Miller, author of a study that found that gunfire deaths and injuries incur a direct societal cost of $32 per gun.
Two decades ago, Miller calculated the costs to society of shooting injuries and deaths with funding from the National Institute of Justice. He ran the numbers again after the Newtown, Ct., shooting. “Back in 1994, the costs of drunk driving were substantially higher, but it has reversed,” Miller says. He found that total costs per injury had at least doubled or come close for medical care, psychiatric care, court cases, insurance, and emergency transport. For example, in 1992, medical care for a fatal shooting averaged $14,500. In 2010, that number reached $28,700. Data analyzed by Miller for the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, costs to the government in 2010 broke down this way: $5.4 billion in tax revenue lost because of lost work, $4.7 billion in court costs, $1.4 billion in Medicare and Medicaid costs for firearm injuries and deaths, $180 million in mental health care costs for gunshot victims, $224 million in insurance claims processing, and $133 million for responding to shooting injuries.